Publisher: Random House UK
Release date: 25 May 2023
Back cover blurb: Rachel has loved Alistair since she was seventeen. Even though she hasn't seen him for sixteen years and she's now married to someone else. Even though she was a teenager when they met. Even though he is almost twenty years older than her. Now in her thirties, Rachel has never been able to forget their golden summer together on a remote, sun-trapped Greek island. But as dark and deeply suppressed memories rise to the surface, Rachel begins to understand that Alistair - and the enigmatic, wealthy man he worked for - controlled much more than she ever realized. Rachel has never once considered herself a victim - until now.
The Girls of Summer is told across two timelines, present day (Now) and sixteen years ago (Then).
Then - We first meet Rachel as a Seventeen year old following a life changing event, that we don't immediately get to understand. Though certain things are heavily hinted at.
She has spent the summer in Greece, island hopping with her best friend Caroline, who has now gone home. Rachel has decided to stay with her new found friends, having settled in a job, and begun an affair with a much older man, Alistair.
She came to Greece in the shadow of Caroline, but meeting Alistair has given Rachel a confidence she never knew she had, and she is determined to make the most of the summer.
Now, Rachel is married to Tom, but her heart still lies with Alistair, even after all this time. When she and Tom go on holiday to the island that she once called home, Rachel is hopeful that she can start to forget about the past, and move on with her life.
But when she comes unexpectedly face to face with an old friend in a bar, Rachel realises that she can never move on. She flees the bar in a panic, only to return the next day without Tom to try and understand if any of the old friends are still in touch.
She is delighted to receive Alistair's contact details, but tells herself she won't do anything with them.
Of course, Rachel never could resist the pull of Alistair, and has spent years believing that they are meant to be together. So when she meets up with him, it is somewhat inevitable that their relationship will continue where they left it.
But Rachel is older now, a little wiser perhaps..
Or maybe not. We all know that love can be blind.
As their relationship continues, more people begin to return to Rachel's life from back then, and she is forced to consider that the carefully constructed memories that she has of that time, could all be built on lies.
I don't want to give any more away, but I really loved this novel. It tackles some difficult subjects well, and although Rachel can be frustrating at times, we've all been young and naïve once! Her journey is what makes this novel special, her realisation of what has happened is painful, but necessary. A great debut!
The Girls of Summer is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.