The Lemon Grove: Helen Walsh

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I put this on my Christmas list after seeing a few good reviews including some that compared it to Notes on a Scandal. I had, therefore, high hopes. I was especially keen to read it now as it looked quick and easy (big type, not many pages!) and I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump with my kindle sending me to sleep every time I turn it on.

Set during the height of a Mallorcan summer, The Lemon Grove is an examination of lust. Middle aged Jenn is persuaded by her teenage step-daughter Emma to allow her boyfriend Nate to accompany them on their annual villa holiday on the Spanish island. Jenn is taken aback by the 17 year old ‘man boy’ (as she describes him) who she finds irresistibly attractive compared to the slightly sad figure her husband Greg cuts these days. As a result the holiday becomes tense, mirroring the hot and stormy weather of the Mediterranean summer.

I’m not sure what I made of this book. It definitely delivered on the ‘quick and easy read’ front and I liked the Mallorcan setting which was well described. Although in the interview with author Walsh at the end she says she was influenced by The Outsider and she doesn’t come close to evoking heat and tension like Camus does. I found (*sort of spoiler alert*) the sex scenes between Jenn and Nate rather disturbing, after all he is a 17 year old boy. I’m not sure who you are supposed to ‘side with’- he is depicted as knowing and predatory, sucking in the older woman in spite of herself, but I don’t think there is any excuse for any affair especially with your 15 year old daughter’s boyfriend! Moreover the attempts to insert dramatic episodes into the plot fall a little short for me although the sort of cliffhanger ending is a nice touch which just saves it for me.

3 stars

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