Swallowtail Summer

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

When you look at a group of friends what do you see? The answer is you only see what they want you to. Rather like a swan in the water, the surface may seem smooth and easy going, but underneath the water, there is a furious paddling of feet, and turmoil, hidden from the casual observer.

‘ Summertail Summer’ is like this, three friends who have known each other since they were young, spend holidays together at a beautiful house in Norfolk, later they include their wives and eventually for some of them their offspring, but then someone dies and the following year even though they know it will be different they are unprepared for how different.

The beginning of the story introduces the characters; shows how they interact with each other and reveals some of their motivations. Even though this is a lot to assimilate and is slow-paced, it’s worth persevering, as it makes the rest of the book easier to follow. Allowing you to appreciate the complex characters and their diversity and secrets.

It is interesting to see how the characters interact, and how the group dynamics remain largely unchanged until Orla dies. This life event forces the group to change. The story’s essence is, will the friendships and family relations survive the need to change?

All of the characters are realistically flawed and many are not likeable, but this doesn’t detract from the story, just makes it more realistic. One of their favourite holiday activities is to search for Swallowtail butterflies. Their elusive quality equates to the finiteness of happiness, love and youth. It makes the story an interesting, but poignant read, with a lovely Summertime, feel.

I received a copy of this book from Orion Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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I always look forward to a book by Erica James; her stories always have substance - the sort that you can really get your teeth into. This, her latest story, set in the picturesque Norfolk Broads, sounded right up my street. I settled down to read it with great anticipation. I have to admit that, unusually, I found the book a little heavy going at the beginning, where so many characters were introduced at once; I kept losing track of their relationships. However, I eventually became immersed in their world. 

This is a story of friendships and loyalties, centred on three men who have been the very best of friends from schooldays and their families. One of the trio, Alastair, owns a rather marvellous sounding house right by the water, where the families gather together every summer to enjoy a holiday of fun and relaxation on and off the water, sometimes searching for the elusive swallowtail butterfly. Since Alastair was widowed the previous year, this summer promises to be somewhat different. However, none of the others could have guessed exactly how different. Alastair has some shocking news for them all, which promises that things will never be the same again. This news triggers a reaction that reverberates through the group, affecting them all in turn.

I have to admit that this is not my favourite Erica James novel; it has the usual depth that I associate with her writing, but it did not fire my imagination to the usual extent. There was certainly never a dull moment, however. Alastair’s shock announcement had everyone considering what it meant for them and whether they should try to change his mind. All sorts of emotions were released, often leading to conflict within the group and testing the strong ties that existed between the friends. Quite a few skeletons came out of the cupboards as well. I certainly never knew where the story would lead next, and definitely could not have predicted how it would all end. I would still recommend this as an interesting book to read, but, to my mind, there are better Erica James books out there.
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It's the first book I read by this author and I'm happy I requested it because it's a really good one.
It's engaging, entertaining and well written.
I liked the amazing setting, it made me crave to be there, I love the plot.
I will surely read other books by Ms James.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Orion Publishing Group and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Absolutely loved this book, have read all of Erica James novels, so was looking forward to this one. 
Found myself quickly immersed with the characters and their feelings.
A real insight into families and friendships and what happens when things don't follow through the way you expect.......
A good read, highly recommend.
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The beautiful Norfolk broads are the setting for this great read and it’s very much a main character with the long summer days and the broads in all its glory.  Alastair is coming home to Linston End to tell his oldest friends some great news unfortunately they don’t take it well and secrets, betrayals and doubt start to surface.  An excellent summer read that looks into family, friendships and love.
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I love reading books by Erica James and was really excited to be approved on Netgalley to read this in the lead up to it being released.

Swallowtail Summer is based on the Norfolk Broads which is one of my favourite places to visit in the UK and somewhere I always find really therapeutic and relaxing to visit. 

During this story Alistair has returned home to the fold of his friends after going travelling following the tragic loss of his wife the previous year. After inviting his friends to stay with him for the weekend the summer then begins to unfold in a way that none of the friendship group ever foresaw.

A story focused around friendship, love and loss, I enjoyed this book but found it harder to relate to the characters and the many dynamics within their friendship group. I found the younger generation more relatable and was routing for Callum and Jenna to become more than friends. 

Swallowtail Summer was a more complex read and wasn't as light hearted as the books I have come to associate with Erica James, I enjoyed the book but it was missing a bit of her normal magic for me.
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I was really looking forward to reading this book as it is set on the Norfolk Broads, and I love Norfolk and often visit on holiday.  The actual house and the setting sound lovely, but I found the characters harder to like.

Alastair owns Linston End, the house that his friends have holidayed in over the years (Danny and Simon from his schooldays, along with their wives and children).  He and his wife Orla lived in it, until Orla died.  Then once this happens Alastair takes himself off travelling for a while, only to return with the news that he's met someone and is selling the house and moving.  Everyone is shocked and quite put out really as where are they going to holiday now?!  I'm not really sure why as it is Alastair's house, not theirs, and it wasn't really their decision.  The guys all had Alastair on a bit of pedestal, which I found a bit strange as they were all adults now with families of their own and it was like their friend was being taken away from them.

Once the new lady in Alastair's life is also thrown into the confusion when they all visit the house to meet her there are a real mix of varying emotions from everyone.  Everyone seems to have their own worries and things they keep secret.

I did finish the book as I wanted to find out what happened in the end, but I must admit to skim reading the second half.  Maybe it was me but I just couldn't connect to most of the characters and didn't even like some of them which made it hard going at times.
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Swallowtail Summer where do I begin?
First off I think I better say that I have read a few books by Erica James in the past and have rated these highly as her writing style in those have consumed me from the start to the end, so it is with a sad heart I have to give this one and a half stars rounded up to two for this latest book. The reason why is the storyline really did not do it for me, I neither cared where this was going in the end and didn’t like any of the characters so was not invested in their journeys and outcomes. I found myself skim reading pages just to get to the end which isn’t something I do. 
I chose this book on the author and the fact it was set in Norfolk which is somewhere I have been quite regularly so thought I would be able to resonate with everything easier but alas this was not for me, this doesn’t mean to say that this will be up someone else’s street just unfortunately not mine.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed book, up to Erica's usual standard, I read it from start to finish in two sittings.

Would make a great holiday read.
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Friends since school, Alastair,Simon and Danny are now looking forward to a  long and happy retirement with their wives when tragedy strikes:. Orla, Alastair’s wife drowns. One year later, Alastair returns from his travels with a new partner - Valentina.
How well do you know your friends? When the couples and their offspring meet at Alastair’s home for their habitual gathering, the dynamics have changed and Alastair has some upsetting news.
I was not immediately gripped by this novel, I struggled to find one redeeming feature about any of the characters, then suddenly the story took off and the characters started to become less one dimensional.  
This is a study of friendships and what can be taken for granted over time, what can be hidden away and what is hidden in plain sight.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you like reading about family dynamics, friendship and manipulation.
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The story is set in the Norfolk Broads in a house that has been the setting holidays for a group of close friends from their teenage years although the story has some of them now more mature with their now grown up children. One of the members of this group has died and her partner has found someone new and dealing with this change and its consequences form the basis of this story as they holiday together once again.  Erica James is one of my favorite authors but for once the characters in this book did not really draw me into the story.  I didn't care for any of them and wasn't bothered what happened to them, in fact most of them, including the dead woman, irritated me.
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Another glorious read from Erica James. This is set in the Norfolk Broads in a house that has been the scene of family holidays for a group of close friends from their teenage years. Now approaching their later years, a death and a health scare have altered the landscape of their lives and managing this change and its consequences form the basis of this story that takes place as they holiday together, possibly for the last time.
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Let me start this review by saying I am a fan of Erica James, I have read her books for years and whilst not my usual genre I always find myself getting lost in her stories and in her writing. However, this one was not quite what I was expecting and I did not enjoy it as much as I would have hoped. 

This is a different genre style than we are used to for James and I think this might surprise some readers as they will not get what they can normally rely on (and love) when reading Erica James. The characters - whilst well written and believable - did not draw me in. I understand they were not all meant to be likable characters, that itself is not an issue but I feel this book needed someone for me to back/be on board with and it just didn't have that. 

As always, splendidly written but not for me this time. I look forward to reading her next book and perhaps I will have more luck!
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Swallowtail Summer, Erica James

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: general fiction (adult) 

I've read a few of Erica's novels in the past, and those all had a romance slant, so even though this wasn't billed as romance I somehow was expecting one. My bad, its not romance. It is however, and accurate, sharp look at us as people, how we turn a blind eye to what we don't want to acknowledge, and how differently people react when the truth is forced in front of them. 
I liked the strength of the characters, the way they felt real. I can't say I really liked any of them as people though, and I wasn't really invested in the outcome of events. Its not a book that really worked for me, very well written, but the actual story just didn't resonate with me. Possibly because I was waiting for a romance to develop somewhere....totally my fault. I do read stories other than romance, but my mindset wasn't in the right place. Maybe at a different time I'd enjoy it, but right now I didn't. I found it a very sad story, almost depressing in how people could be let down so bsdly by those close to them. 

Stars: Two, just not one for me, but I'll happily read others from Erica. 

Arc via Netgalley
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Great book- really enjoyed it.it was an easy read. 
Thanks to both NetGalley and Orion Publishing for my eARC of this book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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Thoroughly enjoyed this. It was good to read a book where the main characters were older than the usual chick lit/general fiction genre. It makes such a change.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.   I really enjoy reading this authors books and this one was good as well but not the best.
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Alistair, Simon and Danny have been friends for years. Since they were small boys, their summers have always been spent together at Linston End in Norfolk. Even with wives and children, the house remains their refuge every summer.

Following the death of his wife, Alistair decides to take time away from Linston End; on his travels he meets and falls in love with Valentina, a wealthy Russian widow. Upon returning to Linston End, Alistair decides the time is right to the sell house and begin a new life with Valentina - much to the disgruntlement of his friends. As Simon and Danny try to persuade him otherwise, it seems nothing they can say will change his mind. That is, until a near fatal accident brings secrets to the fore and has a catastrophic outcome.

A good book set in a beautiful location. It has a good cast of mostly likeable characters. A story of secrets, jealousy and deception and was an enjoyable read.
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There’s a problem with this book. When it downloads it isn’t a swallowtale summer but something completely different. I have tried to report it but no-one came back to me about it.
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Oops. The book I received was not this one but ‘If Only I Could Tell You’ by Hannah Beckerman.. it was an excellent read.
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