Author: Trish Morey
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Publication Date: December 16, 2019
Copy: Purchased personal copy
One Summer Between Friends is largely set on Lord Howe Island, a small community off the coast of New South Wales. The setting is glorious and one that I must say sounds like a beautiful place to visit, Morey paints it vividly.
The story is very much character driven but the setting is an integral part of that, especially in that it’s a small community.
Floss, Jules and Sarah were childhood best friends who shared everything and thought they would be lifelong friends there to share the ups and downs of life together, forever. Sarah moved to the mainland to forge a career as an accountant while Floss and Jules were happy to remain on Lord Howe Island. Their friendships remained strong until things happened that tore the friends apart, these were things we didn’t learn about until well into the story and I had to keep reading to find out what went so horribly wrong.
These three friends were so close and to lose a friendship like that leaves a massive hole, a hard hole to fill because friendships like that are hard to find.
We open with Sarah thinking she may finally be about to be offered a partnership at the firm she has given her all to for 17 years, a firm she started in straight out of university. A partnership there was question she would ever be offered because it still has very much a boys’ club mentality. Unfortunately her day doesn’t quite go to plan, beginning with the call from her father with news that her parents are in a Sydney hospital after hip surgery for her mother; recovery and rehab are going to take time and they need her to come home for six months to run the family store on the island. How is that ever going to work when she thinks she’s about to be offered the position she has spent years working towards?
More to the point, why would she want to return to the island and all of the past hurts she’s been trying to escape. She doesn’t want to be on the island where she can’t hide from the ghosts of her past and she can’t forget all that has happened.
Her meeting with the partners goes far from how she expected and she agrees to head home to run the store, albeit reluctantly.
Floss seems to have it all, married to her highschool sweetheart with a brood of beautiful children and living in paradise; except that things aren’t always how they seem. Floss is feeling a little trapped in her life and her marriage has seen better days, and she has no idea what to do about it.
Jules is happily living a life she never expected, or knew she wanted, until she finds something that changes everything.
One Summer Between Friends is very much the story of all three of these ladies but I feel like Sarah is really the central character. She has certainly not had things easy and I found her easy to relate to.
Actually, I found all of these women easy to relate to. These are women approaching 40 and going through things that many women of a similar age are going to understand and empathise with. We won’t always react the same way or make the same decisions but I could certainly see how thedecisions were made.
One thing that really touched me is that these women, friends since childhood, who had always thought they would be friends forever, don’t seem to have other really close friends. I’m sure they have other friends and people they spend time with but not friends that they can share anything deeper than the day to day. I think that’s beautiful in that it was clearly a friendship so deep and special that it’s irreplaceable but it’s also sad that when the friendship imploded there wasn’t anyone to share the struggles that require a special friendship.
Sarah being back on the island is a perfect opportunity to try and find a way back to friendship but she’s determined that’s not on the cards. Jules reaches out and Sarah wants no part of it.
The reunion between Sarah and Floss came as a surprise to both of them with an unexpected meeting in the store, though I guess they both knew it was possible. Theirs is a slightly awkward meeting which leads to more regular contact.
I can completely understand this falling out, Floss had everything Sarah had always wanted and couldn’t have. Her bitter jealousy got the better of her and she snapped, said terrible things and broke off a friendship they both relied on. Years later and Sarah is dealing a little better with the way things are, she knows she was in the wrong and tries to make amends; helped by the fact that Floss understands.
This becomes a summer of transformation for all three women. I quickly realised that it’s not just the ghosts of friendships past that Sarah is running from, her mother has a poison tongue and unleashes it on Sarah regularly. There were some comments that I thought were just insensitive and thoughtless but not necessarily intended to harm, but there were others that were most definitely designed to flay and open wounds Sarah is so desperately trying to heal.
I loved these women and I felt for them through their issues and I hoped that they would find their way back to each other because the friendship they shared was an important piece of all their lives. I could understand Sarah’s reluctance but I also hoped they would find a way through it.
The struggles they face are the same struggles that many face; fertility, health issues, intimacy, family dynamics, career choices.
There is a list of book club questions in the back which I have given some thought to but won’t address here because it gives away quite a lot.
All three of these women have done things they aren’t proud of, things that it isn’t easy to come back from. Things they need to forgive themselves for as much as ask forgiveness and though some of them I can understand I still don’t know that I could have forgiven myself in their shoes.
One Summer Between Friends was a beautiful book of life, family and friendship in all it’s pleasure and pain. I would love to check back in on these characters in another year or two to see what’s happening for them. I have hopes and dreams for them that I would love see come to fruition.
One Summer Between Friends is book #3 read for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2020 and I’m not sure what number reviewed. I might need to start a new list to keep track of the reviews I have actually written, hopefully I’ll catch up soon.
I would love to hear what you think if you have read One Summer Between Friends.