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Summary

Florida, 1935, and the residents of Heron Key are preparing for the Fourth of July barbecue, little realising how much their world is about to change. Domestic helps Missy and Selma are dismembering the alligator that tried to snatch the baby Missy was watching, before they can get ready for the party.

Henry, a returned soldier from WW1, is hoping that his comrades in his construction team will not disgrace themselves in front of an already fiercely judgemental community. Hilda Kincaid, is squeezing into a frock, wondering how she will face another night of public humiliation as her husband toys with Doreen from the golf club. And Sheriff Dwayne Campbell - laughing stock since his wife gave birth to their mixed-race son - is squaring up to deal with any troublemakers and prove he can control the town, even if he can't control his wife...

Tensions simmer at the party and in the early hours of the morning, a woman is found half-beaten to death. As whites turn on blacks, the finger of suspicion points at one man. And while wild accusations are made, far over the Atlantic a tropical storm changes direction and turns towards Florida, increasing in speed by the second. As the hurricane beacons are lit along the Keys, the town folk prepare themselves as they always do, unaware that the approaching storm is beyond anything they have ever experienced. In one night, Heron Key will change forever.

©2015 Vanessa Lafaye (P)2015 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about Summertime

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping story

Excellent story brought to life by a wonderful story teller. Recommended read. Based on true events it's an exceptional and heart rending tale of people in the south living together.

18 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A moving fictional account

I found this book a little hard to get into, then I couldn't stop listening. As the disaster unfolds the listener is gripped by the events and totally involved in the characters and their fight for survival. The narration was excellent.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb in every respect

This could well be one of the best audible books I have listened to so far. The story was so absorbing and well crafted, the characters felt so real , brought to life magnificently by this very talented narrator.

I found it moving and thought provoking. I really could not put it down and would highly recommend this to a wide age range of readers and to both genders.

I was so impressed by the narrator, I intend to choose my next read narrated by her.

The whole experience was just lovely.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

History given the Hollywood treatment

This book is OK if you don't mind a serious subject given the 'Pearl Harbour film' type treatment. This may have been a true event but the characters in this story are stereotypical and basically two-dimensional good and bad guys. There are some well-written scenes, for example Hilda's suffering at the hands of her philandering husband in the searing Florida heat, and the lynching scene is dark and suitably harrowing. Unfortunately I found the storm scenes strangely boring and finally skipped the last few chapters to find out what happened at the end. If I saw this at the cinema I think I could enjoy it in the same way I enjoyed a yarn like Independence Day, but as a book tackling racism in the South, it needed more substance, pace and originality.

3 people found this helpful

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Summertime

Good story like a happy ending. Quite informative too. Hadn't perceived how deadly a hurricane can be

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great find

I bought this as part of a sale and what a great find. The story is great and the performance is done so well. Based on true events, it is an excellent capture of a day in the life of a community in 1930's deep south USA.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Best narration ever.

A powerful story that grips you almost from the beginning. The superb narration makes you believe you are there witnessing what takes place.

I will look for more from this wonderful story teller.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Initially promises a lot, but loses its way

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The trajectory of the story. Throughout the first two thirds or so, I'd become extremely interested in the central characters, who are compellingly well described and fleshed out, and the building tension that preceded the arrival of a momentous and life changing event left me on the edge of my seat. The arrival of that event, however, is also the point at which the story (for me, at least) lost its way, and almost lost this reader.

What was most disappointing about Vanessa Lafaye’s story?

The arrival of the hurricane, which completely dominates the last part of the book. It is dragged out for so long that the language becomes repetitive (how many ways are there to express just how loud the wind is? Just how powerful the sea has become?) This is also the point at which the story becomes confusing – I reached a point where I wasn't actually sure who was where, which veteran was which, and had long since ceased to care. The scene in which some people outrun a wave, having conversations while they do so, is especially implausible and ironically seems to drag on for ages!

Have you listened to any of Adjoa Andoh’s other performances? How does this one compare?

The reader was excellent.

Did Summertime inspire you to do anything?

Nope. It did make me realise that thousands of good reviews don't always guarantee a good listen...

1 person found this helpful

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Great story - totally engrossed

Having read some reviews, I nearly didn't choose this book. Some said it was v slow to begin with. I disagree. I enjoyed the way the characters were drawn at the beginning. Any book that begins with a woman trying to save a child from a horrible death in the jaws of a crocodile can't be considered as slow. The description of the hurricane was fast paced and exciting and I cared about what happened to the characters because of what I learnt about them earlier in the story. I loved the southern accents used by the reader - especially Jimmy who was at first annoying then endearing and ultimately heroic and probably, after Henry and Missie, one of my favourite characters

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not my cup of mint julep...

I know it got some great reviews but...Maybe I'm just an old guy who has heard this story in any number of iterations before but it didn't grab me and, to my mind, the narrator, appropriately setting her voice to match the drowsy humid somnolence of steamy Florida didn't help. Maybe it got better after the first two hours but I didn't want to take the chance. Sorry but life is too short to spend time on something that doesn't keep you wanting more.