When a book is about old mansions and extravagantly rich families and their secrets…you know things are about to go down. And like, probably not legal things. 😂 I do have a soft spot for books about unhinged rich families, and I was very curious to dive into this. I read Emily Barr’s The One Memory Of Flora Banks back in in 2017 and I remember finding that fascinating, so I was curious about this latest release. This Summer’s Secrets centres around the mansion called Cliff House and the generational secrets buried there (literally). It’s a family saga as it covers three time frames (1940s, 1980s, and present day) and gives us a detailed view of the Roberts family and their complicated past and all the things they don’t want anyone to know.
In the present day, the story is mostly told by Senara, an outsider who has befriended the old, crotchety matriarch of Cliff House, Martha. Then Martha’s children and grandchildren visit because they’re worried Martha is about to write them out of the will. Senara gets sucked into the swirl of their extravagant life, latching on to a nebulous friendship with Clementine who is spoiled and bratty but sweeps everyone up with her magnetic personality. Josie, Senara’s friend also narrates, and she realises her family might be involved in some of the secrets that happened in Cliff House’s past so she’s keen to investigate. She also has far less tolerance for the privilege of the rich and her life is pretty hard as she cares for her disabled mother and is figuring out her sexuality. (Some really nice sapphic rep here too!)
There are bones in the garden and rowdy parties and the butterflies of first romance and secrets from the past that come back to haunt everyone. There are a lot of narrators and side-character names to keep track of, but if you like the wide scope of family sagas, this one might be for you! It also reads slice-of-life at times, going for a slowburn unveiling of the mysteries rather than a speedy thriller vibe. It definitely gave me We Were Liars vibes too.
With mysteries to solve, and legacies to unravel, This Summer’s Secrets makes for a compelling summer read.
Thank you to Penguin Australia for the review copy!
ONE HOT SUMMER, FIRST LOVE AND SO MANY BURIED SECRETS . . .
Senara has never been in love before. She’s not done anything exciting before. Always the sidekick . . . Until the summer that changes everything.
Cliff House is closed off for most of the year until its rich Londoner owners come down to Cornwall for the summer. This year, despite herself, Senara finds herself pulled into this world of wealth and ease, sunbathing and beautiful people. She even finds herself falling in love for the first time.
But Cliff House and its owners are hiding things. They’ve been hiding things for too long and now, despite all their efforts, their secrets are coming out . . . Secrets that involve Senara’s friends and her family in a way she could never have imagined.
published June 13th, 2023