Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (10 May 2012)
‘Do you still love him?’ Every second of every minute of every hour of every day…
Alice is 18 and about to start university while Joe’s life is seemingly going nowhere. A Dorset summer, a chance meeting, and the two of them fall into step as if they have known each other forever.
But their idyll is shattered, suddenly, unexpectedly. Alice heads off to Cambridge and slowly picks up the pieces of her broken heart. Joe is gone; she cannot find him. When she catches the attention of Lukas – gorgeous, gifted, rich boy Lukas – she is carried along by his charm, swept up in his ambitious plans for a future together.
Then Joe is there, once more, but out of reach in a way that Alice could never have imagined. Life has moved on, the divide between them is now so great.
Surely it is far too late to relive those perfect summer days of long ago?
We meet Alice while she is travelling to Dorset with her mum. Her dad will join them at weekends over the six week stay. Alice meets Joe on the first day in the pub that is run by his parents … and the magnetic pull is there from the beginning. They have so much in common and their relationship is warm and playful. They walk Joe’s dog Dyson down to Dancers Ledge on the coastline and have trips out together to Corfe Castle and Brownsea Island (as a resident of Dorset I can vouch for the authenticity of these scenes!) As Alice and Joe become closer, she finds out about his family background. One incident finds Alice and her family fleeing Dorset earlier than planned.
Alice tries to find Joe but doesn’t succeed. She’s been living in Cambridge for six months leading an insular life and feeling broken when she meets Jessie and a friendship develops. He’s a professional punter and Alice soon finds herself part of this ‘group’. It’s alongside the river banks that her relationship with Lukas first develops. Nine years later, Joe is once more on the radar but seemingly totally out of reach.
Narrated in the first person, the reader becomes a part of Alice’s life. Alice changes and grows in maturity over the years and I thought the author made this very real – from the uncertainty of an 18 year old to a married woman refusing to be controlled.
The places we see through Alice’s eyes also add interest to the story. We spend time in Dorset, Cambridge and visit Germany, becoming involved in the communities and individual characters.
The characters, leads and those on the periphery, are believable. The relationships are also true to life. It’s easy to image the pact Alice made with best mate Lizzy and how Joe’s family affected the change in the way Alice related to her own parents.
Alice and Joe’s relationship is totally different from Alice and Lukas’. The alienation of her friends in both relationships (for different reasons) and trouble with the parent’s are very similar though. I did wonder if best friend Jessie might also be a contender for an intimate relationship … sometimes we see the ‘best friend’ turn out to be the one all along …
I so wanted Alice to have what was right for her. From the moment Joe is in the public eye I avidly turned the pages. I have to admit to being tempted to read the end but just (only just!) stopped myself. I was so desperate to find out and the tension was unbearable! By this time I really couldn’t say for sure what I wanted though – stay or …
I found One Perfect Summer an emotional read. There’s a heartbreaking moment with Dyson (sobbed my heart out) and tears involving Joe and Lukas. The heart-warming friendships and the romance balanced out the tears (mine I mean). I’m a softie at heart!
One Perfect Summer was a quick read for me. I enjoyed the writing style and it was easy to become absorbed in Alice’s life. You should definitely add this to your holiday reading list! Another success for Paige Toon.
I would like to thank Simon & Schuster for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review.