Book Review for “Mrs. Lorimer’s Quiet Summer” by Molly Clavering.
Summary: “In what is surely Molly Clavering’s most autobiographical novel, two middle-aged women writers, close friends and neighbours, offer one another advice and support while navigating life in a lively Border village. Lucy Lorimer, the more successful author, with her four children, in-laws, and grandchildren gathered for a summer reunion, must try to avert disaster in one daughter’s marriage, help a daughter-in-law restless with mundane married life after flying planes in the war, and deal with the awkward reappearance of an old flame. Unmarried Grace (‘Gray’) Douglas, meanwhile, has struggles of her own, but is drawn delightfully into her friend’s difficulties.”
Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary, UK: Scotland, Threipford (fictional) Other Categories: Novel, Vintage, Humor, Romance.
Well, they did it again, that Dean Street Press! They went and sent me a book and I fell head over heels. I swear, if I could, I would only read and review their books. But that’s not realistic. Never mind, I’ve got two more ARCs from them, and I hope to get to at least one of them as soon as I can. The thing is, being American, despite marrying into a British family, there is no way that I could have known about these authors, so I’m eternally grateful that I am now filling this hole in my education. That said, let’s get onto the review of this book.
Once again, we get a novel set in the post-WWII era that just oozes with charm and wit. To be more specific, Clavering concentrates her story on Lucy, the matriarch of Lorimer family, most of whose children are married and no longer living at home. The one still single, her youngest son Guy, ends up being another focus of this story, together with his romantic inclinations. Yes, I said romantic, and yes, essentially this is a type of romance novel, but not one that is at all saccharine or maudlin. True, there is a girl in this book whose main purpose in life seems to be to marry someone, but her reason for wishing to do so is because she’s been saddled with the most horrible name, and marrying would help at least with her surname. This twist on the “helpless female who needs a man to save her” was for me, just adorable. (Okay, call me a hypocrite, but sometimes I like to get a bit mushy, especially if the most intimate we get is a chaste kiss, and some blushes.)
Actually, this is more than just tale about a mother and her single son. This is more a book that tells the story of family dynamics, and how each one interacts with the others. While I can’t call it a family saga, per se, it certainly does delve closely into them all. No, this is more a portrait of village life, but as viewed from both within and without. Since all of Lucy’s children are adults, and are only visiting for the summer, they give us the perspective of the visitors. At the same time, Lucy and Gray give us their observations of both Lucy’s suddenly overburdened home, as well as some colorful residents of the area. And all this starts begins with Lucy finding out that the house nearby that she’s long coveted (for both its size and gardens) has been purchased by an outsider for just two people (while she has to stow some of her children at Gray’s home when they all converge on the village at the same time).
Interestingly enough, Clavering employs a third-person omnipresent narration, which was slightly confusing to me at some points. This happened mostly when the narration flitted among the lesser characters, when she was telling us of their emotions and thoughts. I’m beginning to see that this POV was quite popular during this era, and while it seems the most natural way to tell a story, it sometimes makes for passages that feel slightly unfocused. Despite this, I did feel that Clavering did an excellent job of portraying all of the Lorimer family members, and I was able to picture each of them in my mind. Added to this are some lovely, poetic descriptions of this area of Scotland, and you’ve got yourself a novel that is sure to appeal to a very wide range of literary fiction readers. I was so attracted to this book that I finished it in record time. For this, I think it deserves a very healthy four and a half stars out of five, and I honestly recommend it, with a smile on my face.
Dean Street Press re-released the 1953 novel “Mrs. Lorimer’s Quiet Summer” by Molly Clavering on June 7, 2021. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), Foyles, Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Walmart (Kobo) US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel.