Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Review: Theme for a Summer by Sandra Davies
The book explores the changing moral standards of the 1960s through the eyes of a group of teenage girls. They are all reaching an age where they must choose where they stand on the question of sexual mores.
When their comfortable associations with, and long-term crushes on, the local lads are disturbed by the arrival of a clan of Irish brothers, they are soon embroiled in the consequences of their choices.
The story starts innocently enough with a little under-age drinking. A smoothly operated cover-up, launched by the single word 'plod', expels the girls onto the village streets. Here we learn of the challenge that the group have set themselves for the coming school holiday. They must all try to 'get off with' as many of the boys as they can before September arrives and ends the summer break.
Central to the plot is the relationship between Bridie Burdock and Sean Donovan, but there are many other associations within the potentially disastrous realms of the summer challenge.
To be fair, there are so many characters involved in the story that the names are a little confusing at first and it takes a few chapters to get the hang of everyone's familial relationships. But persevere.
Along the way there is plenty of opportunity to observe the effects of the emergence of the hippy generation on small town life. We also discover that the idea of 'free love' was not all that new, and that it was never truly free of all costs. We also encounter the double standards that parents can operate in rules for their children.
Theme for a Summer is nicely evocative of the time and regular mention of the hits of the era helps to recreate a vivid picture for anyone who lived through those years.
The plot appears predictable at first but takes some sharp turns away from the expected direction. At the end the reader is left wanting to know more, which is a good thing for the first in a series of books that follow Bridie and Sean's progress across a couple of decades.
The book is available by clicking the link at Sandra's blog Lines of Communication. She completed another section of the tale for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last year and is currently working on the latest volume of the tale.
A printmaker, Sandra also designed the covers for all the Bridie books.
UPDATE from Sandra. June 2012: Can I please update this by saying that 'Theme for a summer' is now available from Lulu, in a combined volume with Book 2, 'Reunion'. Also the two that follow that, 'Holding steady' (my first NaNoWriMo novel) and 'Damage limitation' in print and as ebooks.