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Summertime by Vanessa LaFaye

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Longlisted for the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown Award Longlist 2016.

In 1935 one of the most ferocious hurricanes ever hit the Florida coast. This dramatic tale features that hurricane but in essence it is a tale of race, prejudice, small-town fears and hardship. The First World War is over in Europe. The black man fought beside the white but back home in America that black man is very much the second class citizen. When a white woman is battered almost to death suspicion naturally falls upon a black man. This is a dark, passionate tale peopled with strong believable characters who imprint themselves upon you. It is a love story, a murder mystery, a tale of human drama and a very fine piece of social history. An excellent read.

If you like Vanessa LaFaye you might also like to read books by Ellen Feldman, Kathryn Stockett and Peter Dexter.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Summertime by Vanessa LaFaye

Florida, 1935. Heron Key is a small town where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp. Everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, the Kincaid family's maid and nanny, feels that she has wasted her life pining for Henry, whom she has not seen since he went to fight on the battlefields of France in WWI. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans on a government works project, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past. When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death in the early hours, suspicion falls on Henry. Old grievances and prejudices threaten to derail the investigation. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. The residents think they're ready, and so do the soldiers. They are wrong. Nothing in their experience could prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way...


'A storming debut novel [that] captures the racial and social tensions in southern America after the First World War. Part social history and part love story, this features the hurricane as a forceful, malevolent character in its own right, whipping through the pages.' THE BOOKSELLER

'This is Vanessa Lafaye's debut novel, and what a writer she is! She has a talent with words that enables her prose to glide across the page, there are no superfluous words, and each paragraph eases the story along. She is a natural creator of atmosphere and suspense, and with a deft hand she creates credible, yet humanly flawed characters. She also creates a very palpable setting, the heat, the oppressive temperatures and the gurgling, sulphurous swampland all assault the reader's senses' TRIP FICTION

About the Author

Vanessa LaFaye grew up in Tampa, Florida, but but made the UK her home from 1987. She worked for academic publisher Wiley in Oxford, commissioning online resources. She detailed the impact of living with cancer in her popular blog Living While Dying, which was picked up in a number of media outlets such as the Daily Mail. She wrote two acclaimed historical novels, Summertime published in 2015 and First Light two years later, both published by Orion, with another recently acquired by HQ. She died in February 2018 aged 54.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Vanessa LaFaye

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