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November Book Club Choice

The Summer House by Mary Nichols

Cover of The Summer House


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A heartwrenching story of love and loss - and three women whose lives are entwined by tragedy. Spanning both World Wars, the spectrum of city and village life, the rich and poor, the story unfolds during a time of huge change.
Lady Helen follows convention and klistens to her family when they encourage her to marry a suitable man, but instead she finds true love with a young soldier and falls pregnant with his child. But when Oliver heads to the front, her family forces her to give the baby up and she never hears from Oliver again...
Twenty years later, with a new war a foot, Helen's daughter, Laura, now a grown woman, is working as a nurse with her adoptive mother Anne (who has never told Laura she is not her real mother). But soon the secrets and lies that have pervaded their lives come to a head, and shatter even the few truths they thought they knew.

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Suggested Discussion Points:

Author Q&A

Q. As a reader, I am always drawn to novels set in and around the world wars, like The Summer House. As a writer what draws you particularly to this period?
M. Gibbons, S Wales

A. I suppose I like writing about the Second World War because for one thing I am old enough to remember it. I remember the blackout, the blitz, the rationing, the evacuees and the black market, though being a child at the time, less about the actual battles. It was also a time of heightened drama in the lives of ordinary people, which lends itself to fiction.

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Q. Which of the three characters, Helen, Laura and Anne, did you enjoy writing about the most?
Corrie Davidson, York

A. They are three very different characters and I enjoyed writing about all three and the way they interacted with each other. I don't think I have a favourite.


Q. Do you think you have to be able to relate to some aspect of a character's personality in order to write a convincing character?
Ann Sable, Ryde

A. I think you need to be able to relate in some way to every character in order to make him or her convincing, even the not-so-nice ones. I like to discover what makes someone tick, to put myself in their shoes, and that tells me how they are likely to behave in a given situation.


Q. Which elements of the book did you enjoy writing the most - the drama or the romance?
V. McKenzie, Wirral

A. It is difficult to separate the drama and the romance because they are so interwoven with the characters' lives and what is happening to them. You could say especially so in wartime.


Q. Are you very disciplined when you write your novels ie. force yourself to sit down a certain number of hours a day, or simply as and when you feel in the mood?
D. Monroe, London

A. I am very disciplined and write every day, but I do not have to force myself. It's harder to force myself to take time off!


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Book Club Reviews

This star review was by Cath.

Absolutely loved this book! :)Cath

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