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June 21, 2023

The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"That place has been my whole life. Everything I thought I knew about myself was constructed in those few months I spent within touching distance of the sea. Everything I am is because Alistair loved me."

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of psychological thriller The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop
June 2023; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250283917
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); psychological thriller

Fifteen years ago when Rachel was just 17, she fell in love.  Even though life didn't work out the way she wanted and even though she is married to someone else, her first love is the man who occupies her mind and her heart.

When Rachel was 17, she went backpacking with her best friend for the summer.  She and her friend traveled all over looking for good times and fun.  When they arrived on a remote Greek island, she was about ready to pack her things and go home.  They met some other young girls who were traveling around and she decided to stay a little longer.  Then she met Alistair.  Even though he was 20 years older than her and even though he wanted to keep their relationship a secret from everyone, he quickly became her everything.  He consumed her thoughts and she wanted to be with him all of the time.  The only problem is that he worked for a rich man and handled things for him and he frequently couldn't see her.  When he invited all of the young girls to a party at the rich man's house, they were surprised that the only people at the party were rich older men who appeared to want more than just conversation.  Still, Alistair convinced Rachel that she was special and she'd be helping his career by being nice to these older men and especially nice to his boss.  Drugs and alcohol were available to the girls and most of them just lived in the moment.  Their lack of maturity put them close to danger several times.  When one of the young girls died and the police began asking questions, Alistair fled the island and disappeared from Rachel's life.  She was crushed and never really got over her love for Alistair nor her memories of her glorious and free life on the Greek Island.   Fifteen years after that summer, unhappily married to another man, she has the opportunity to get in touch with Alistair again and doesn't hesitate.  Even after all this time, she refuses to accept the fact that she was controlled by an older man -- what she remembered as love was a type of sexual manipulation.

The story is told in two timelines - both told by Rachel.  One timeline is about her life on the island when she was 17 and the other is present day fifteen years after her summer on the island.  Even after all this time, her memories are of being carefree and in love with a wonderful man and she hasn't grasped that she was being manipulated for sexual favors.  Will anything at all make her realize the truth?

This beautifully written debut novel was a deep look at the MeToo movement - at the coercion that some men use on women who naively consider it to be a type of love.  The author does a fantastic job of describing life on the Greek Island.  It was easy to feel like you were there.  She also does a magnificent job of showing how naive Rachel was at 17 and how easy she was to manipulate and then later show her struggling with her memories and trying to discern if life really was as happy and carefree as she remembered.  This book was so well written that it's difficult to realize that it's a debut.  I look forward to future books from this author

Buy The Girls of Summer at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  

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