Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Lemon Grove
Helen Walsh

Jenn and Greg have been married for fourteen years, and, as the book opens, they are enjoying the last week of their annual summer holiday in Deia, a village in Majorca off the coast of southern Spain. Their days are languorous, the time passing by in a haze of rioja-soaked lunches, hours at the beach, and lazy afternoon sex in their beautiful villa. It is the perfect summer idyll . . . until Greg's teenage daughter (Jenn's stepdaughter), Emma, arrives with her new boyfriend, Nathan, in tow.

What follows, over the course of seven days, is a brilliantly paced fever dream of attraction between Jenn and the reckless yet mesmerizing Nathan. It is an intense pas de deux of push and pull, risk and consequence . . . and moral rectitude, as it gets harder and harder for Jenn to stifle her compulsion.

This is a very smart novel about many things: the loss of youth, female sexuality, the lure of May/December temptation, the vicissitudes of marriage and the politics of other people's children. It is simultaneously sexy and substantive, and Helen Walsh's masterful, even-handed tone can't help but force the reader to wonder: "What would I have done?" (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Jenn and Greg are on their annual trip to Deia. This time they have allowed their 15-year-old daughter Emma to bring her equally young boyfriend Nathan. Jenn has an immediate attraction to 17-year-old Nathan. The Lemon Grove is the story of what takes place as these four characters spend the week together.

The author has an incredible way with words. Her writing is descriptive and the story was a quick read. Unfortunately, I found I just never cared about what was going on with any of the characters. Jenn’s behavior made no sense to me. One minute she is lusting (and more) after Nathan. The next minute she is angry at his obvious wondering eye with other girls in village and what this means for Emma. There was a slight build up of tension towards the end and then for me, it all fell flat.

I believe there is a reader for ever book. It just so happens that I was not the person who found this to be an enjoyable read.

Many thanks to Doubleday Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

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