**I first published this post on an old blog site on 2 May 2016**
I wanted to share with you the best book I have read this year. The Forgotten Summer, published in February 2016, is the latest book from one of my favourite authors: Carol Drinkwater.
My initial idea for this post was going to be a detailed review of the book. I had read several good and in-depth reviews of The Forgotten Summer and thought, “I can do that. How hard can it be?” Well, as I put pen to paper, I struggled. It was not because I didn’t know what to say about the book. I loved this book and I could talk about it all day long. When it came to writing about it, I just didn’t know where to begin.
As I started to look online for inspiration, I came across Novelicious, and its series of posts called Literary Love Letters: letters from established and aspiring writers to their favourite authors, telling them how much their writing has impacted on their lives. Suddenly, the light bulb moment occurred: why not try writing the post in a different style: as a letter to the author?
Below is my attempt and thank you to Novelicious for your inspiration.
I became truly aware of your fabulous writing at my first visit to The France Show, London, in 2015. Whilst perusing the programme, noticing you rightfully had the opening slot of the day on the main stage, I remember thinking: Carol Drinkwater – famous for her role as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small and who now writes about her life in the South of France. At that time, I must be honest, The Olive Farm had been sitting on my bookshelf untouched for several years. After listening to you talk so passionately about life on the Olive Farm, the 6 books in the Olive Series and your documentary series, The Olive Route, I quickly wondered why on earth I had waited so long to read that copy of The Olive Farm. Needless to say, it did not take me long to become well acquainted with your work.
What strikes me the most about your writing in the Series is your openness and honesty about your life, not to mention your beautiful descriptions, especially of the South of France. These still have me wanting to book flights at a moments notice. So, when I returned to The France Show this year, I bought a pre-publication copy of The Forgotten Summer and started reading it immediately. I was desperately hoping it would contain the same style of writing and, wow, I was not disappointed!
From the front cover I was hooked. As I was drawn into its atmosphere: the idyllic blue sky, the woman walking carefree with her bike through the vineyards, I noticed the question under the title: ‘Is the truth something you really want to know?’ This was such a juxtaposition of the image I had created in my mind. I undoubtedly wanted to know more: Who is this woman? Why is the vineyard so prominent? What happened in this forgotten summer?
As I began to read, the front cover came to life. You introduced me to Jane Cambon, who I like to believe is the woman on the front cover, and her husband Luc, not to mention his formidable mother, Clarisse, all living on the Cambon family’s vineyard estate. After the accident at the annual grape harvest, different aspects of Clarisse’s character come out to play and she does not hesitate to re-ignite the long running feud between herself and Jane. As I became more engrossed in the book, the story began to unravel, as did the characters. You answered my three questions in ways I could not have imagined.
I only had to read several pages to know that your book would turn out to be a marvellous page-turning read. 423 pages of family secrets, enduring love, tragedy, and heartbreak all set on a vineyard in beautiful Provence – I could not have asked for more!
On several occasions, I thought I had worked out where the book was going, until you threw it in a different direction. Your beautiful description played with all of my senses and emotions allowing me to be fully absorbed into the story and to share Jane’s journey.
Thank you for being such a great storyteller and I am so looking forward to your next book.