Portmadog Library Reading Group put themselves forward to read and review Vanessa Lafaye’s Summertime, a powerfully emotional and gripping debut novel about a small town already divided by race having to face the deadliest of hurricanes.
Summertime is out now in paperback, ebook and audio and is in Richard & Judy’s Summer Book Club. If you’d like to volunteer your reading group to read our next book club choice sign up here.
‘I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, the characters were well drawn and I could almost feel the heat and humidity of Florida . . . The description of the hurricane was absolutely riveting and I couldn’t put the book down till I found out what had happened to everyone. I thought it was an excellent read’ – Sheena
‘A brilliant book.The first chapter pulled me in, immediately wanting to know more. I soon became engrossed in the story, characters and place . . . A vivid account of the true destruction caused by a hurricane in that part of the world, illustrating the personal toll on individuals and communities’ – Bronwen
‘I loved Summertime. I liked how there was an element of truth to the story, based around the post war period, along with the biggest hurricane to hit Florida. The way the story and characters were interwoven was brilliant, and I found myself unable to put it down! . . . I’m so glad I had the chance to read ‘Summertime’, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone’ – Emma
‘It’s well written but the topic didn’t appeal to me . . . It was a bit long winded for me although the descriptions were good.’ – Marjan
‘I really enjoyed “Summertime”. The events at the beginning are very interesting and are presented in excellent prose. Excellent characterisation too. I would give it 9/10.’ – Bet
‘The gator gripping opening hooked me from the start and I was engrossed in the lives of the inhabitants of Heron Key . . . There are several twists and turns in this emotional story, and as it is based on an actual tragic event it becomes even more dramatic as you hold your breath, hoping against hope for a reasonably happy ending. An excellent read! I loved it!’ – Anna
‘When you begin to read this novel, do not assume, as I did, that it is To Kill a Mockingbird revisited. It is actually very different. Certainly it deals with unjust,irrational and relentless racism with self-seeking whites and suffering blacks, however, ultimately, it is Nature that takes centre stage. Lafaye’s characterisation is detailed and convincing. Tension, with the constant underlying threat of lynchings, is also effectively developed . . . But it is the description of the hurricane that is truly amazing. Read the novel just for that. You will not be disappointed. ‘ – Sue
‘At first glance the book cover and title portrays an idyllic tropical beach scene. Look again and we see dark clouds gathering overhead and a palm tree blowing in the strengthening wind. There is a storm brewing and it blows right through the pages of this gripping book . . . We are drawn in to the story completely and I found it hard to put the book down. . . I loved Summertime. From page one it was an absolute page- turner. I hope this book becomes an American classic!’ – Margaret
‘The author has woven together three historical events, namely a storm, a lynching and the deployment of veterans to work on the Florida Keys to create a moving piece of fiction. The gripping descriptions of the arrival and progress of the apocalyptic hurricane evoke feelings of real terror and excitement . . . I greatly enjoyed this novel and have been driven to find out more about the real life events that inspired it.’ – Bethan
‘What an amazing debut novel! I found that the story had me gripped right through from the very beginning. The fact that it was based on true fact was an added factor to the powerful story. The descriptive passages I found were excellent and the author’s accounts of the hurricane were terrifying and stayed with me long after I had finished reading the book. Good characterisations and scene settings and interesting revelation of previously unrevealed events of the treatment of the the World War One veterans. I shall be looking forward to this author’s future novels.’ – Sarah