This is such a beautiful tale about summer holidays. I rarely feel that anyone can describe my early summers, but in Meg Rosoff’s The Great Godden, I could have been there. OK, my summers were more boring, with fewer sex gods turning up and less of the undercurrents.
Or maybe not? Obviously no sex gods, but this novel brought home to me how different the slow, languid summers with nothing but sun, sea and sand appear to the young, and what it must be like for their parents. The ones who still have to cook meals and run everything, let alone as in this case, organise someone’s wedding and sew outfits. On holiday!
We have the 17-something main character and her three younger siblings and their parents, arriving at their summer bolthole, to spend all summer, engaging in their kind of nothings as usual. Tradition matters. (At first I thought I was in New England, but realised soon enough that the family live in London, and were driving to the coast, somewhere. It didn’t feel quite English; more Swedish, or maybe American.)
Anyway, this is marvellous, and I defy any reader not to want to join the family, along with the cousins next door and the lovely dog.
And then the Goddens turn up; gorgeous Kit and surly Hugo. They really stir things up, with everyone in love with Kit (who between you and me is a real piece of work) and turning their backs on Hugo.
Our arty main character observes everything, while also falling for the great Kit. Not much happens? Except, of course it does. You just barely notice.
This is wonderful! I feel as if I’ve been given permission to revisit those careless days when I enjoyed life, with no idea how the adults fared; having to get on with each other, and put meals on the table.