We start our journey in Cancun, Mexico in 1989 where we find out about Danny’s addiction and Harriet’s secret. Harriet is not impressed with the beach house that’s Danny now owns on the island of Des Amparados and leaving him behind, flies back home alone. Hector is the caretaker of the house and looks after Danny on the island. Danny decides to leave Hector the house with the proviso that once he dies, it is inherited by Danny’s children.
Catalina intervenes one night when Danny is being beaten up on the mainland… and he finds comfort in her arms in the cove of the island. Then a boat appears in the small cover of the island bearing Lucy and four young men. After they have left, he is inconsolable. He hears a gunshot and lays low on the ground in the gravel. We are left with this enigmatic sentence:
“The sound of the final gunshot echoed across the island.” Page 49
Next, we find out that Harriet is pregnant and Megan is her daughter. Catalina gave birth to Esmerelda (Esme) and Lucy to Claudia. We follow the three daughters lives who all feel as if there is something missing from their existence. They are three very different lives – Harriet and Megan in the UK have a very troubled relationship, Catalina and Esmerelda in Cancun living by the Mexican customs before they find a way out which is no way out at all … and Claudia … living a privileged life but with her grandfather … and very little contact with Lucy. Ultimately, all three women set off to find Danny and in the process find out more about themselves.
Written in a third person narrative and alternating between them, it’s really easy to become absorbed with each of the characters and identify with them. As well as the three daughter’s journey to find Danny there is also heartbreak and love along the way for them. Being involved in each of their lives means there is no time for the reader to be bored as there is always something happening. The stories merge when Megan, Esme and Lucy come together on the island but there is more intrigue waiting for the reader as we journey to the climax and resolution. I loved the way it all tied up.
My favourite character is Claudia. For me she made the biggest transition from her protected life and naivety into a woman who listened to her intuition and used it. She grew into her own strength.
I loved the style of writing. For example this simile on how Claudia was feeling:
“Her skin tingled and she felt all stirred up and giddy, like an angry wasp under a champagne glass.” (page 271)
The settings take the reader to many places … in Mexico (both in the city, Cancun and the island), London, Essex, Oxford and Las Vegas. I enjoyed reading about a different culture and I learnt something new! At 15 in Mexico, there is a ritual ceremony for the girls called La Quinceanera. This was a part of Esme’s culture.
For the majority of the story there is the suspense of not knowing what happened to Danny. A postcard sent from him in Las Vegas to Lucy more than ten years ago makes Claudia believe he is alive. On reflection, there are subtle clues but I was so caught up in what was happening to the woman that although it was in the back of my mind, I didn’t guess. I loved it that I didn’t know what was coming!
In the penultimate chapter we are back in Cancun in 1989 where everything is revealed…
The Summer of Secrets was for me a strong three fairy read. It has all the elements of a good read – suspense, mystery, death, journeying to other places and cultures, characters that entrance and find themselves, families, romance, heartbreak and love. One for your to read list.
I won my copy via LovereadingUK on Twitter/FB.