Sun. Desire. Obsession. An explosive, intelligent novel from the prize-winning author of Brass.
One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family where the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken. Jenn and her husband, Greg, holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn's stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn.
As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of 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 put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative that percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down.
Sultry, spare and brilliantly paced, The Lemon Grove is a meditation on female desire, the variations of marriage, and the politics of raising other people's children. It is the work of a writer acutely alive to the complex workings of the human heart.
©2014 Helen Walsh (P)2014 Headline Digital
After the excellent reviews on Amazon and elsewhere I had high hopes for this novel. Unfortunately I was hugely disappointed. This is a short book but moves along at an incredibly slow pace and completely lacks atmosphere or tension. I found the middle class family tedious and unlikeable and as the mother of a teenager myself I found Jenn's obsession with the teenage Nathan rather unbelievable. The whole novel felt forced and there was an absence of any real feeling. The narrator was listenable but her narration was similarly forced and did not flow easily.
Review: I have to admit that I bowed to peer pressure when reading this book. I wasn't sure about it initially but then I decided to give it a go, and rather cheekily, my choice of this book at this time was down to the fact that it was a fairly short book. Although I have an ebook copy of this one, my time meant that it was really better to get an audiobook copy and so I bought this book again in audiobook form. Five hours of listening later and I was done!
This book is intense. On the surface it doesn't really look like anything much is going on, but really everyone's emotions are changing every minute of every day and because this book focuses on one character in particular, the effect is Ben more intense, effectively you are living this week or so through the life of this one woman and her conflicting feelings and emotions. I admit that I did expect a little more to happen in the book. You are presented with feelings and situations in the novel and yet there don't seem to be many consequences or results of people's actions. (It's very hard to talk about actual events in the book without giving any spoilers away!)
I love the setting of this book. I really wanted to be by the pool on the cover and you could almost feel the heat hitting you as you the story unfurled and each scene was described to you. I didn't really like any of the characters however. Jenn seemed really immature considering the fact that she is a grown woman with a family of sorts. Her husband seems to be absent, I just found Emma spoilt and vindictive and I thought Nathan to be exceedingly arrogant. It didn't really put me off the book, my dislike of these characters and I do always feel that if you feel strongly about characters overall then the writer has done a good job!
I wouldn't say that this is strong summer recommendations for me but it is definitely a very quick read mad the audiobook was extremely well done. I think it will appeal to those who like something short and intense like this but not necessarily those who want a little more depth to their novel. Overall I enjoyed the book and I'm glad I read it but I would've like some more reaction to the actions that took place.
Assistant Librarian · Eton College School Library,United Kingdom
But The Lemon Grove is not a romance; rather, it is a complex novel about family relationships and growing older. The illicit attraction between Jenn and Nathan is only one of several faultlines running deep between the four inhabitants of the Villa Ana. Jenn and her husband, Greg, are struggling to come to terms with 15-year-old Emma's sudden transformation into a sexually active young woman; Greg is manfully hiding a secret to protect his family; Emma asserts herself by rejecting Jenn's mothering. Into this volatile situation Nathan arrives as a virtual stranger: a cocky, working-class boy newly conscious of the power of his own beauty.
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