A review by Lynne Larby
Beth Poole is a dog trainer from Yorkshire, England. Her parents died in a car accident when she was a child and her sister died from breast cancer a few years ago, one month before Beth found a lump in her own breast. She had a double mastectomy to significantly increase her chances of survival then her ‘loving’ husband broke up with her while she was lying in a hospital bed still groggy from all the drugs because he claimed to be “a breast man”. Charming.
The above is backstory that trickles out throughout the story; when the story begins, Beth’s grandparents give her a plane ticket to Australia to push her into going on holiday.
The ticket is for Western Australia because Louis, Beth’s step-grandfather, made a mistake. Beth decides to head to Margaret River and stay in a cottage for a month or two.
Once there, locals befriend Beth; Laura takes Beth clothes shopping while the men give her tours of the vicinity… while trying their chances. Thus a romantic triangle is born.
Clayton Hardy’s mom died of cancer when he was 6 and he’s never really come to terms with it. When he learns of Beth’s brush with cancer, he freaks out. Clayton’s best friend, Jeff, remembers it very well — and how Clayton didn’t speak for a year afterwards.
Clayton’s father, Rob, has a problem with a woman, Gwen. This conflict is entertaining for readers, especially if you’ve ever witnessed something similar in real life, however, cancer is the root cause of this conflict too. I was satisfied with the resolution but it was too fast.
The background characters in Summer Harvest add real depth and personality to the story. It made me want to visit Margaret River, too.
I adored the dog aspect of the story and Beth’s propensity for deciding what kind of dog people are. For example, a friendly guy is a Jack Russell Terrier. I was a bit disappointed that the doggie elements weren’t maintained throughout. They tail off by about halfway. I wish Beth’s labeling of people was more of a feature of the plot in some way. It felt a little like Chekov’s gun sitting, unused, on stage at the end of a play.
Summer Harvest is an enjoyable, well-written novel with an engaging romance and characters who explore issues around cancer. I highly recommend Summer Harvest to romance readers and people whose lives have been touched by cancer.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Format: paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Penguin Random House)