The Gold Dark Summer
A Boarding School Story
by Susan Papas
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Pub Date 15 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 3 Aug 2022
In her 14th summer, Sadie risks everything to go in search of the love she dreams of.
“…vividly captures the magic and excitement of youth…” The Self-Publishing Review
14-year-old Sadie rebels against the rules and regulations of her strict English boarding school, risking disgrace, the loss of friendship, exclusion from the coveted Music Festival, even expulsion from school, to ride an emotional roller-coaster that will take her to the heights of happiness and the depths of despair. As summer term draws towards its close and her world is collapsing around her, she must somehow find the strength and maturity to ride out the storm and emerge not only older and wiser, but victorious.
“A superbly plotted coming-of-age novel with a strong cast of characters and a vibrant setting. Highly recommended!” The Wishing Shelf
It is 1959, and the shadow of World War II still lingers over England. Sadie dreams that the father she has never known will return, even though he was killed in the war. She dreams that Danny, a senior at the nearby boys' school, whom she glimpses only from afar, in church, will one day notice her, but he has eyes only for her best friend, Lucy. And she dreams that she and Lucy will be selected to sing in the prestigious Music Festival, and bring glory to the school.
"An elegy for adolescence and a simpler age, sensitive, insightful, bittersweet, and poignant". Debbie Young, author.
This beautifully-written, heart-wrenching novel of first love, friendship and betrayal, is a must-read for teenagers and all those seeking “a realistic reminder of what it’s like to be young…"
“An eloquent novel detailing the ins and outs of an English boarding school in the late 1950s, The Gold Dark Summer is a lushly descriptive work about the delights and dangers of forbidden first love. Sadie, a young scholarship student at Bracken Hill who lost her father in WWII, falls for a boy and must cope with the consequences, including the betrayal of friends. Papas’ poignant book vividly captures the magic and excitement of youth, where every change and new experience is a dramatic opportunity for personal growth and exploration, offering a look at adolescence from a historical perspective that is wholly recognizable in the present day.” The Self-Publishing Review 4½ stars
“Like the Malory Tower books, this is set in a girls’ boarding school – although there is a boys’ school too. And, like Enid Blyton’s books, it’s set in sort of the same time; a time when the children would say stuff like, “Cheer up, old thing.” And there was a matron, and she would say things like, “Scrub those fingers, young lady, as soon as we get back from church."" Yes, there’s a lot of Malory Towers in this novel. Yet... There’s also a lot more!
Firstly, this is a coming-of-age story and, in many ways, the problems the protagonist (Sadie) must face seem so much bigger than Darrell’s. Enid Blyton was a victim of her time and couldn’t (and possibly didn’t want to) allow her characters to get involved in anything too deep – particularly boys! Secondly, the characters in this novel feel better developed, not just in terms of who they are, but also what they want. Thirdly, the author’s writing style is in many ways much stronger than Blyton's; lyrical almost and, thankfully, not too flowery. The story’s cleverly plotted, the setting is well-described, and the characters jump off the page. ...a captivating read. Highly recommended.” The Wishing Shelf 5 stars
“Papas’s honest exploration of her protagonist’s inner world and outer life takes place over the course of a season at a British boarding school in the late 1950s. This slice of Sadie’s life is a particularly life-changing one, and Papas doesn’t miss a moment of it. …she is a capable storyteller with both an eye for beauty and a keen sense of empathy. That empathy gets applied equally to everyone in the story, from the adults in Sadie’s life, to the friends who both help and hurt her, and even to the young man who sets her heart alight for the first time. The young women see the double standards that exist around them, and know they want to be able to live more freely. They try to find that freedom however they can – a striking and beautiful journey that hits upon what all young people share in their adolescence. …a worthwhile read for those seeking a realistic reminder of what it’s like to be young, and of how, as one character aptly puts it, “Growing up is like walking blindfold through a minefield.” That is: terrifying but exhilarating, with everything raw and brand-new. Papas conjures this feeling well with her detailed, poetic prose, and does so in a way that lingers long after Sadie’s story has concluded.” Indie Reader 4 star review
“An elegy for adolescence and a simpler age, sensitive, insightful, bittersweet, and poignant. The characters are strong and engaging, the boarding school setting highly evocative, the descriptions both lyrical and filmic in their clarity."" Debbie Young, author of the St Bride's School series, and the Sophie Sayers Village Mystery series
Average rating from 4 members
This book is an inspirational story indeed! I did find that the story started out quite slow, and I struggled to get into the story, however once I stuck with it, I wasn't disappointed! It tells the tale of a young girl living in a boarding school who has to face the hardships of war, friendship and love! Susan has a way of describing a setting, it makes you feel as though you are right there with the characters! Please do not judge this book by the first few chapters! I promise it gets so much better! And has become one of my "want to reread" again books! Thank you for giving me an opportunity to read this book.
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