One Last Summer

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Such a lovely poignant book to read. I hadn’t read the description before I started it. Just liked the look of the book. I was not disappointed one iota. Lovely storyline. Flowed well and was easy to read. Though the storyline included a sadness it didn’t dominate the entire book which is good. I might not have read it if I’d seen the description so was glad of that.
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Harrie, Audrey and Lisa have been good friends since college, nearly twenty years.  Harrie decides to rent out a priory for the entire summer and host her friends, so they can relax, laugh and ultimately learn that she won't be around for that much longer.  The setting allows them to enjoy each other's company and hash out some of their current life issues.  Audrey is overworking herself in a new business endeavor and Lisa is scraping by working as a supply teacher and wishes for a more settled and secure life.  Hattie has recently learned that her breast cancer has returned after being in remission for several years, and it has spread to the extent that it is now terminal.  After she got over the shock of her diagnosis, with the help of her daughter Honor, Hattie decides that her dearest friends must be told, and that it will be in the most beautiful setting possible.   Her goal is accomplished soon after the friends are reunited and settled in at the priory.  

This book and its difficult topic are so well written that even though the predominant thought throughout the story, especially in Harrie's thoughts, is a very sad one, this book is not sad.  It is not morbid.  It is a wonderful, heart warming read that makes you want to get in touch with all the people you care about.  Having lost three dear friends to cancer I can connect very well with the story and I loved reading it.  Very strongly recommend.  

Thank you to Netgalley, the author Victoria Connelly, and the publisher Lake Union Publishing for a free ARC in return for my honest review.
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This is a moving and poignant read which still provides the reader with a hopeful and enjoyable read. You feel invested in the story and I particularly enjoyed how you got to know all the women in the novel who all had their own story going on. It is a thought provoking story and deals with some difficult issues of terminal illness and saying goodbye. However, it always retains a sense of the love and friendship between the friends.

Hannah is a wonderful character who is never mawkish or self- indulgent. It feels like a credible story. With a wonderful setting and beautifully written prose, it is an engrossing read which you can't put down. Despite the sadness, there are also some funny moments and a feeling of timelessness and life carrying on.

In short: A moving and compassionate story of love and friendship.

Thanks to the author for a copy of the book.
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Harriet has received the devastating news that her cancer is back and it's terminal. She wants to spend one last summer with her best friends. She rents an old abbey in a beautiful location so they can all enjoy peace, serenity and being cut off from the responsibilities and stresses of everyday life.

Harriet wants to say goodbye, but without the other two being aware of that being her intention. It makes the situation slightly difficult, because Audrey and Lisa can only react to the facts when they know what they are dealing with. It makes them come off as insensitive and self absorbed.

I liked the fact the author didn't feel the need to make the relationships Harriet and Lisa have with new men automatically be sexual. Men and women can have close friendships without any extra commitments. They can bond and have satisfying conversations without going the full mile within the first few days of meeting each other.

I found it a little unusual that Harriet hadn't shared anything about her illness with her 'best' friends. I understand it makes for a more emotional read, but surely losing an important part of herself and image as a woman would be something she might want to share with the women she says are the closest to her.

It's a story about friendship, loyalty and relationships. It's also about maintaining control of your life when life decides to throw a spanner in between the spokes of your wheel of life. Harriet decides, it is her choice. She might not be able to dictate the when or the how, but she can try and determine the time leading up to it. It's a thoughtful and emotional premise.
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I really enjoyed this book. Despite some serious themes in it, it is an easy book to read as it flows seamlessly from one scene to the next.

The characters are all well-written, they have depth and genuine issues which are realistic and I suspect everyone who reads the book will either identify with one character or recognise their traits in someone they know. The priory they stay in sounds gorgeous and cosy and just the sort of peaceful getaway that I think most of us could do with at some point in our lives.

This is the second book I’ve read recently that has got me thinking about the little things, listening to the wind blowing through the trees, the softness of my cats fur, the joy of standing with the sun on my face and many other small things that we take for granted or forget about while we’re rushing around apparently living our lives. How many people, on their daily commute, look out the window and see the patterns in the clouds or the sunrise or set? How many people are rushing about each day just now and missing the spring blossom on the trees? We’re always chasing something that’s just out of reach, ever wonder what would happen if we stopped chasing?

While this is a story of friendship and how deep those bonds can go, it’s also a story of living life, properly appreciating the little things and that it’s never too late to do something new. If the world is getting you down or life is looking a bit duller these days then give this book a try, you might just find yourself looking at things differently once you’ve read it.
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Harriet, Harrie to her friends, books the Priory, a getaway in Somerset for six weeks.

She hopes that she can reconnect with her two oldest friends, Audrey and Lisa. Harrie holds a secret though, one she is not sure she’s ready to share.

Audrey is busy running her own school and is not taking the time for herself. Even when she arrives for the six-week holiday she has promised Harrie, she still can’t stop working.

Lisa has Yoga but isn’t really fulfilled by her day job.

One Last Summer is one of those novels that I knew from the first page was going to make me cry. And it did.


I immediately got very emotionally involved with all the characters. All three of these women have things they are needing to work through – work/life balance, getting older, mortality and relationships.

Most of all though, this book is about the friendship between these three women. There is a love story but it surrounds Harrie, Audrey and Lisa. It was one of the things I loved most about this book.

The setting for this novel sounds amazing. I could really picture this place from the descriptions given. Can I go live there?

I am not going to say much more as I don’t want to give away any more of the plot.

There are times in this novel where I smiled, laughed, got sad, cried – lots of emotions.

Much like its setting, this book is perfect for the warm summer evenings, with a glass of wine and your feet up.

There is sadness but a lot of warmth and a powerful message at its centre. I know what I took from it. I hope you get as much from it as I did.

Thank you Victoria for a wonderful novel.
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A beautiful, sensitive and thought-provoking read about who we really want to spend time with when we know that our time is limited. This also hit very close to home as the ladies in the book are only very slightly younger than I am and these types of issues are similar to the ones that I’m having to think about rather more than I’d like to these days!

Harrie has booked a summer holiday at a gorgeous old priory that’s being restored on the Somerset coast and has invited her two oldest, closest friends to spend it with her. But she has an ulterior motive: this will be the last summer that she gets to see and she wants to take this opportunity for them to reconnect, reminisce and recapture their unique, special friendship.

This is such a poignant and relevant story that raises all those ‘what if?’ questions we tend to avoid. Written with empathy but managing not become over-emotional and gushy, Connelly writes about the depth of female friendships and the lengths that women go to for each other, through thick and thin, no matter what. The friendships that we form with our girlfriends cannot be explained or understood. Regardless of disagreements, misunderstandings, upset and anger, when push comes to shove, we know who we can count on and who will be there for us. The author captures all of this perfectly here and you will find yourself nodding your head as you read, with tears streaming silently down your face.

I found such a touch of melancholy in the contrast between the restoration being done on the Priory, compared to the decline in Harrie’s life. Something was being restored and renewed, whereas her life was waning, coming to an end and the same couldn’t be done for her.

Although the underlying subject matter is admittedly grim, this isn’t a book about illness. It’s not depressing or dull in any way. It is a celebration of life and of friendship. It reminds us to live each day and to revel and rejoice, not only on special, large occasions but also in the small everyday things. Appreciate what we have and who we have, and never take anything for granted. Tell the people in our lives that we love them, and what they mean to us, without expecting anything in return.

A sunny, bright 5 stars for this beautiful life-affirming book!
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One Last Summer is a beautifully written and sensitively told tale of friendship, reconnecting with the past and the ties that bind that will bring a tear to your eye, touch your heart and warm your soul. Best read with a box of tissues handy, One Last Summer is a brilliantly emotional read from Victoria Connelly.

Harriet, Audrey and Lisa had once been the best of friends, but in the last couple of years they’ve drifted apart and are now no longer as close as they once were. With everybody being so busy with their lives and careers, losing contact had become inevitable, however, when life throws you a curve-ball that turns your world upside down, you soon find yourself realising what your priorities are and that is certainly the case for Harriet. Having received some earth-shattering news, Harriet realised that if she wants to reconnect with her friends, then she should stop dawdling and do something about it now. She has always dreamed of spending the summer in an ancient priory on the coast of Somerset and it looks like she might finally get her wish – even if she knows that getting back in touch with her friends will mean revealing her painful secret.

Spending time with her old friends in Somerset will give Audrey a chance to take stock and maybe figure out that there is more to life than working yourself into an early grave? Slowing down and making time for herself are two concepts that are anathema to her, but if she keeps going at this rate, she is going to end up paying the ultimate price for her dedication to her job. Meanwhile, Lisa is the total opposite. A happy go luck flirt with commitment issues, she has always preferred her relationships to be casual and transient, but will this summer end up changing her mind?

As the three friends reconnect, they soon realise how important their friendship is to all of them and they will need all the strength and support they can get as, just around the corner, is a twist of fate that will change all of their lives forever.

Having read some of Victoria Connelly’s books in the past, I expected One Last Summer to be a rural romantic comedy, however, no sooner did I read the first page that I realised that this was a book that, while at times witty and charming, was also compassionately told, searingly emotional and wonderfully uplifting. One Last Summer is a very special book that manages to break your heart and lift your spirit in equal measures.

A book that will stay with your long after you turn the last page, One Last Summer is an outstanding tale that should not be missed.
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Favorite Quotes:

He was the head of the maths department and she’d told him that she’d always hated figures and he’d made some wisecrack about liking hers.

Harrie’s diagnosis. D-Day, she called it, and now her life seemed to be divided between everything that had happened before D-Day and everything that had happened after.

Kindness. That was the trait she’d come to value most in recent years. You realised that as soon as you became ill. Kindness trumped absolutely everything else.

… the likelihood was that she wasn’t going to see her birthday. How strange a thought was that – to know that you have seen your last birthday? 

A moment of stillness and wordlessness passed between the two women. It was a strange feeling because Harrie didn’t feel any sort of closeness to Mrs Ryder, but this confession – this sharing of intimate pain – now connected them. Harrie had found that her journey with cancer had linked her to so many people in this way – people she probably would never have spoken to.

Lisa, aligning my chakras and teaching me how to breathe through one nostril isn’t going to save me… This thing’s got me good and proper.

They say laughter is the best medicine… but I don’t think it’s going to cure what I’ve got.

I know he’s the father of my daughter and there’s a part of me that will always love him, but he’s moved on now. He’s married to Lizzie, who has big hair and wears tight tops. So, you see my health isn’t his concern anymore.

My Review:

Knowing her days were numbered, Harriet, Harrie for short, splashed out a fortune to provide one last hurrah to host a peaceful summer vacation with her two oldest and dearest friends of twenty years, who are unaware of her dire health issues.  This wasn’t a highly eventful or active story but a slowly evolving character-based study of coming to grips with mortality, as well as how that was processed and dealt with within complicated relationships and personalities. Each woman possessed a distinct and complex identity with vastly different temperaments, life goals, and levels of accomplishment, yet they cared about each other and fussed like siblings.  

The premise was relevant and thought-provoking while the writing was emotive and thoughtfully insightful with recurrent themes of interpersonal tension, poignancy, melancholia, angst, and wry humor.  The main characters were well fleshed out, although the character of Audrey was the most difficult for me to warm up to as she was the type of person I generally make an effort to avoid in real-life; she was stubborn, bristling with self-importance, driven, highly opinionated, and abrupt. I actually found the local workers to be the most compelling and interesting and greatly enjoyed their addition and contributions to the story.  

New additions to my Brit Word list include plimsolls – which are rubber-soled canvas shoes; slap-up – a large and sumptuous meal; and supply teaching – what most Americans know as substitute teaching.
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Harriet, Audrey and  Lisa are long time friends getting together to reconnect. They have to rediscover each other and themselves on the beautiful Somerset coast. A story of lifetime friendships are discovering what is really important. Thank you Lake Union for the opportunity to read this book of friendships and what is means to be there for each other.
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My first book by this author, but she has written so many that I wonder how I ever missed them!  This is the emotional story of three friends who have drifted apart.  Harriet organises a summer away in an old priory on the Somerset coast for herself, Audrey and Lisa.  With secrets to share and friendships to rekindle, can they face what the future holds?

What an emotional story this was!  Reading between the lines on the blurb, it was obvious it was going to be, but I didn’t expect how much it would bring me to tears and tug at my heartstrings.  It does have a cancer storyline, so if you prefer not to read storylines which involve this illness then perhaps this isn’t the book for you.  I have to admit, I’m not very good with stories of terminal illness and whilst I knew it was going to be a tearjerker, I may have chosen not to read it if I had realised the complete story.

But I was brave and did read it!  Whilst it is a book which will have you reaching for your tissues, it is also a heart-warming story of three friends who are bought together for the summer after finding that they had drifted apart for years.  Whilst the storyline is a sad one, it does have its happier moments watching the friends revive their fragile relationships and reminisce about past times.  The characters are so likeable and you get drawn into their stories right from the very beginning. 

The setting of the beautiful Somerset coast was wonderful, and the other characters which they meet during their stay at the Priory add extra depth to the storyline.  It was a sympathetic and well-written story and the author has done a fabulous job of keeping it from being too depressing.  I did struggle with parts of the book but only because of my own memories and emotions that resurfaced - it was in no way because of how the author had written it.

A sad story with a beautifully enlightening theme of friendships and love running all the way through it.  Be prepared for tears, but also expect moments of laughter and fun.  The moral of the story – keep your friends close and live for today, as you never know when it may be your last.
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This book will make you laugh and cry.  I could not recommend this book more. I look forward to the next book written by this author
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Beautifully written book which is easy to read. It’s a lovely celebration of friendship As always with this author the books are a joy to read
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This book follows the tough times that have been bestowed on Harriet, gathering her two best friends together for an amazing long summer in a beautiful priory in the country. 
Many tears were cried and many laughs had throughout the book.
A great read!
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This book was a lovely read about the true meaning of friendship and how one picks up where they left off even after 6 years ..
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One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly
Lisa and Audrey have been invited by their long time friend Harrie to spend a summer holiday at a converted priory she has treated them to. They met 27 years ago and have not met up for the last six but have kept in touch. Harrie has a secret, one she wants to tell them but not until she has to as it will change the whole equilibrium. They have a housekeeper and there is a restorer on the property, a chap who Harrie is finding herself drawn to. They spend their days catching up and reliving the past , enjoying their beautiful surroundings.Lisa is into her yoga and tempts the gardener into trying it for his injured back. Audrey can’t stop working and disappears home for a few days and gets more than the work she anticipated. Harrie invites her daughter over to stay wit the group and this tips the balance. I liked Harrie. She was calm and in control in a very difficult situation. She thought of others over herself. The others had their strengths and weaknesses as we all do and found the best in each other.This is a poignant  and evocative emotional read which is beautifully written. The pages almost disappeared between my fingers as I got so immersed in the story, I was almost at the end before I knew it. One of those reads to take you to another place. One to smile at, one to shed a tear. A truly wonderful read. 
For more reviews please see my blog http://nickibookblog.blogspot.co.uk/
or follow me on Twitter @nickijmurphy1
(rest of links as part of blog tour)
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Beautifully written, incredibly uplifting celebration of friendship - this is the story of Harriet who knows time is running out and she is determined to give her two best friends one last summer to remember,. 

Harriet is full of strength and clearly loves her two besties Audrey and Lisa, even though they have barely spent much time together in the past 6 years. 

This is a summer in which not only does Harriet have to reveal her reason for the get together but the other women all develop and learn more about themselves too.

Like I find with all of this authors books, the pages flew past incredibly fast,  and I was sucked into the story very easily. 

I loved the setting of this book too, The Priory, which was a big atmospheric building, that is having some restoration work done to it. 

The three friends, experience a lot over the course of the book, and although there are sad emotional undertones throughout, there were only a couple of moments where I found a lump in my throat.

A fabulous story that I am delighted to have had the opportunity to read. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
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This is a well written book, just not what I expected. I knew it was going to be sad but not so depressing. This book just wasn't for me, but don't let my review stop you from trying it. Thank you Lake Union Publishing Via NetGalley for the free copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.
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This is a story of lasting friendship, that friendship comes together well throughout the story showing that geographical distance can be overcome. However, there were many times throughout the book where the characters felt one dimensional to me.
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Victoria Connelly is one of my favourite writers, and this book is up to her usual high standard. Beautifully written, with relatable and believable characters, this was a stunning read.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read this.
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