Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Lemon Grove - Helen Walsh

About the book...
Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Deia, on Mallorca's dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn's stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by Nathan's youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly charged liaison that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.

About the author...
HELEN WALSH was born in Warrington in 1977 and moved to Barcelona at the age of sixteen. Working as a fixer in the red light district, she saved enough money to put herself through language school. Burnt out and broke, she returned to England a year later and now works with socially excluded teenagers in North Liverpool. She is the author of three previous novels, Brass, which won the Betty Trask Award, Once Upon A Time in England, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, and Go to Sleep.

My thoughts...
I was given a proof copy of this book in return for an honest review by Georgina Moore at Headline which I'm more than happy to do.

I really wanted to read this book, I'd heard so much about it, not all good I have to say.  There didn't seem to be any middle ground reviewers either loved it or couldn't get on with it at all.  Life kept conspiring to stop me reading it but eventually and ironically I finished it on the train north on publication day as Helen Walsh was heading south to London.

The story is set in Mallorca, in the summer  on what is, the annual, family holiday.  Only this year Jenn and Greg are expecting not just their fifteen year old daughter but her seventeen year old boyfriend too.  An event they're not altogether pleased about.

Circumstances such as — the heat, good food and relaxation play a huge part in the events that brings unexpected passion to their villa.  It's quite hard to believe that over the course of just one week everything that held the family so strong unravels to the point that nothing will ever be quite the same again.

I've been a mother of a teenage daughter and remember the egg-shell walking well!  As a parent I've kept my counsel rather than face the fireworks so can emphasise with Jenn who's feeling it twice as bad, on account of being 'step-mother' to Emma.  She has a husband who seems wrapped up in his world - just like real life really.  It's easy to get stuck in the comfort zone and not see what's under your nose - marriage and family's are hard work and shouldn't be ignored - a lesson both Greg and Jenn needed to learn.

Jenn's defences are down, and Nathan unleashes feelings in her that she hasn't known for a long time if ever.  First came lust and then out of control passion that Jenn knows is wrong but she is compelled to ignore the warning bells.  Passion blinds her to what she's doing and she careers down a path that can only lead to her self destruction.

I found myself reading faster and faster, heart in mouth as I envisaged Jenn getting caught and ruining everybody's life in the process - I kept willing her to come to her senses, I wanted to shake Greg and make him see what was going on under his own nose.  The sexual tension just fizzes off the page, there was no quiet build up it was animalistic and intense, graphic but without being too much.

I'd highly recommend this book and would love to hear there was going to be a sequel - everything gets wrapped up nicely but then Helen added a twist right at the end and we're left guessing what happens next.

I gave this book 5/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Great review, thank you. A gripping book, I read it in 24 hours... and yet, the marital fit and the lust somehow didn't quite gel, things got resolved too quickly... Evocation of backdrop was stunning, transported me straight back to Mallorca.