Jera’s Jamboree review : Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown

summerof76Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Myriad Editions (4 July 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1908434333

ISBN-13: 978-1908434333

It’s the start of one of the hottest summers on record with weeks without rain; the summer of Abba, T-Rex and David Bowie; of the Notting Hill riots and when Big Ben stopped dead. Luke Wolff is about to turn 18 and is set to enjoy his last summer at home on the Isle of Wight before leaving for college. His job at a holiday camp promises new friendships and romance. But with the heat and open windows, secrets become harder to hide and his parents’ seemingly ordered lives become unstuck and the community is gripped by scandal.

Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle |  Summer of '76


There’s intrigue as soon as we start reading … It’s December 31st 1971, Joanna Wolff and husband Richard are at a party.  Whose key fob was Joanna looking for?

Leading on from this scene, it’s now early May 1976.  Luke has just bought a new scooter … an orange Vespa.  He’s just finished lovingly polishing it on their driveway when up rides his friend Martin.  They go off to listen to David Bowie’s album.  Feeling hungry, they go downstairs to the kitchen and we’re introduced properly to his parents and his 4 year old sister, Kitty.  From this time, throughout the summer of ’76 we spend time with the Wolff family and friends as seen from Luke’s perspective as the community secret and family secret slowly unravels.  Character’s backgrounds are revealed with more layers of sorrow underlying the face of situations.

Through Luke we get to experience his changing friendships, teenage angst, those awful feelings when we know we’ve made a wrong decision … and that feeling of being on the edge of something really exciting.  His summer isn’t all about working at the holiday camp – plenty of time for sunbathing on the beach and alcohol that long, hot summer!  We see him mature throughout the story. He’s even able to reason through the chaos of his thoughts and have a chuckle with his dad at the end … as opposed to slamming out of the house in frustration (I remember those days well!)

The characters are all fabulous. From pompous new neighbour Mike to 4 year old Kitty.  One of my favourite scenes is with Kitty singing/performing at Martin’s 18th birthday tea.  So funny!  I will never hear Abba in the same way again!

Everything is very authentic from the music and fashion to the social and economical environment… I wasn’t a teen myself then, but do remember quite a lot!  Just like Joanna, my mother used to run up outfits on the old Singer sewing machine (not just for us but for neighbours children too).  I also had a similar elephant to Kitty so they must have been a craze!

Ashdown’s writing has transported me away from our awful summer weather, into a time when all the doors and windows had to be open and the beaches were jam-packed with tanned and gleaming bodies. I’ve believed I’ve been on this journey with Luke, right by his side.  I’ve been at the funeral and climbed a tree.  I’ve been drunk (and very sick!) I’ve been concerned about my mum, felt my dad ruffle my hair and been a part of Nan’s shenanigans.  I’ve been anxious.  I’ve also laughed with Gordon at work and loved my family.

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy ... it's a keeper!

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more about Isabel Ashdown and stay up to date with her on her website, on her Facebook Books page, and follow on Twitter @IsabelAshdown


5 thoughts on “Jera’s Jamboree review : Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown

  1. Pingback: Jera’s Jamboree : Stationery Love with Isabel Ashdown | Jera's Jamboree

  2. So happy that you enjoyed it as much as I did. I thought it was wonderfully done and Isabel brought the characters, place and that long, hot summer vividly to life.

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