I received a copy of Under A Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye via Netgalley. This book is published in the UK as Summertime.
Published in the UK in May 2015, I had not actually heard of this book before I saw it on Netgalley, but I was immediately drawn to the (US) title and cover. I had no idea what it was about, but decided to give it a go. And I’m very glad I did!
Although set in a fictional seaside town in the Florida Keys with fictional characters and a fictionalised plot, this book is based on true events, and I learnt quite a bit from this story! For example, I had no idea that veterans returning from the utter horror and grimness of the First World War were treated so badly, neglected and failed so spectacularly by the government.
A very atmospheric novel with wonderful, flawed yet likable characters, the themes of the novel are manyfold, but the main focus is on prejudice, cruelty and love. We see the strength of the human spirit, maintaining a dignified and decent outlook in the face of hideous racial prejudice and cruelty; the cruelty of the human race and the cruelty and devastating nature of the weather; love in many forms – between brother and sister, man and wife, parent and child, the love of home.
This novel affected me quite deeply, bringing on a recurring nightmare I have occasionally, and it is a novel that will stay with me for quite a long time. This is Vanessa Lafaye’s first novel and I will be waiting with baited breath for her second!
Finding a place on my favourites shelf, I gave this book a wonderful 5 stars.