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Tuesday, September 12, 2023



Overall, I enjoyed this book and will definitely read any future offerings that this author may produce. (Review by Fiona de Goede)

This is the debut novel of new author Katie Bishop – she started writing The Girls Of Summer during the Covid lockdown whilst thinking back to her own backpacking adventures and her interest in the #MeToo movement.

Seventeen-year-old friends Rachel and Caroline are on the adventure of a lifetime, backpacking through Europe before returning to college and the rest of their lives. They have been friends since primary school, Caroline the leader and shy, awkward Rachel more than willing to follow her bold friend’s lead.

On a whim they decide to spend a week soaking up the sun on a remote Greek island, lazing about, drinking and partying with the other young people that they meet up with. Then Rachel notices Alistair, a much older man already in his early thirties, giving her a look that boys normally direct at the more outgoing and beautiful Caroline. Rachel is instantly enthralled with this enigmatic and attractive man who seems equally taken with her.

The two girls befriend several other young girls who have been working on the island as waitresses at a local bar of which Alistair is the manager. When they too are offered jobs at the bar, they decide to stay a bit longer. The drinking and partying escalate rapidly and when it is time for Caroline and Rachel to return home, Rachel decides to stay on. By now she and Alistair are in a relationship, albeit a clandestine one as he promises her to secrecy as, ostensibly, he does not want the owner of the bar to know of their affair. This man, Henry Taylor, is extremely wealthy and powerful and Alistair seems to be at his beck and call and is very careful to obey his every command and fulfil his every wish.

The hold that Alistair has on Rachel grows ever more controlling but as this is the first time in her very young, innocent life that a man pays her so much attention and seems to favour her above all the other beautiful young girls, Rachel just falls more and more deeply in love with him. 

Now, in her thirties and married to Tom, they go on vacation to Greece and end up on the island that had such a profound impact on Rachel’s life. When she recognizes Helen, one of the girls from her youth, still working at the same bar, Rachel is immediately reminded of her deep love for Alistair. She obtains his telephone number from Helen and once back in London, contacts him. They arrange to meet up and the attraction that Rachel felt towards him all those years ago, is immediately rekindled.

They resume their affair and slowly Rachel’s life starts to unravel. Her marriage to Tom is threatened and her obsession with Alistair seems to be taking her down a path of self-destruction. When Helen contacts her and implies that there are truths she needs to know about Alistair, Rachel refuses to believe anything she is told. However, when Rachel eventually agrees to meet up with Helen and several of the other girls that use to work on the island with her, she is forced to listen to and come to grips with some sordid truths. 

This novel deftly moves between young Rachel and thirty-year-old Rachel – the author manages to set the tone perfectly and the balance between past and present is negotiated skilfully. The characters are believable and the storyline moves at a steady pace.  I had enormous empathy with young Rachel as her naivete was so apparent and she was so masterfully manipulated. However, I lost a bit of patience with older Rachel as I felt she missed many red flags in Alistair’s behaviour towards her second time around.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and will definitely read any future offerings that this author may produce. - Fiona de Goede

The Girls Of Summer is published by Penguin Books: ISBN 978-1-7876-3601-9