Saturday 15 August 2015

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon *** BLOG TOUR & AUTHOR INTERVIEW ****

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.
As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.
It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .
Until something goes wrong.
A suspenseful, spell-binding coming-of-age story about how one simple action on a summer's day can echo through the years. Perfect for fans of Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard, Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret and Helen Dunmore's The Lie.

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon was published on 13 August 2015 in paperback by Black Swan (an imprint of Transworld), and is the author's debut novel.

Sometimes slow, often evocative and always beautifully written; The Summer of Secrets is a coming-of-age story set during the summer months of 1983 and is interwoven with the present-day life of lead character Helen.

In 1983, Helen is a lonely, quite introverted girl who lives with her father. Her mother left some time ago. It is the summer holidays and each day seems just like the last, with nothing much to look forward to. That is until Helen's world is turned upside down by the appearance of the Dover family who have moved into a tumbledown cottage just by the canal.

Helen has never met people like the Dovers and become infatuated with them, and especially with elder daughter Victoria. Victoria is the same age as Helen but appears more mature, more exciting. more vibrant, more alive. Helen's life changes considerably; she has a friend at last. Until one day, something happens that is so huge and so life-changing that Helen's life will be defined by it. The Dovers disappear and Helen and Victoria do not meet again for thirty years.

I too was sixteen during the summer of 1983, and reading The Summer of Secrets was at times, just a little painful. Teenage girls often have a cruelty about them that can be incredibly hurtful and quite damaging, and those feelings remain locked away in the brain, sometimes they never reappear, but sometimes they are awakened. Reading this story awakened some memories of mine that I'd really rather had laid dormant.

Sarah Jasmon is a talented writer and creates a sense of place that is realistic, transporting the reader to the canal side, and in amongst the vast cast of unusual and well crafted characters.

This is not a fast moving story, it is more a slowly unfolding tale of friendship, of hidden secrets, of realisations and of the consequences of actions. I did have some questions to ask; I wondered why and how Helen allowed her life to be so marred by these events.  I wondered how she had avoided learning the truth for so long. I felt that there was a sense of vagueness about some of the plot, I feel that some of the characters had more to give to the story, and that the reader was left to create some back stories from their own imagination.

The Summer of Secrets is a dark, intense novel that will challenge the reader. The characters are vibrant and well drawn and the setting, both in location and era is sublime.
I look forward to reading more from Sarah Jasmon.

Welcome to Random Things Sarah, thanks for answering my questions

Do you read reviews of your novels? Do you take them seriously?
It's early stages for this one. I read the reviews if the link comes up on my Twitter feed, but I've made a sort of pact that I won't go looking for them, on Goodreads for instance. Reviews are like writing group feedback: you have to be open to what people don't like as well as what they do, and that can be very useful, but it's a nerve-revealing process all the same!

How long does it take to write a novel?
This novel took around three years of fairly part-time writing and then another year of editing. I have a two book deal, so the next one will hopefully take a bit less time (famous last words..?). I do work best with deadlines, though!

Do you have any writing rituals?
I'm not sure if it counts as a ritual, but as soon as I sit down to write I start feeling hungry!

What was your favourite childhood book?
Can I have childhood authors? Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elinor M. Brent Dyer, Beatrix Potter, Noel Streatfeild, Enid Blyton, L.M Montgomery...
I read all the time, and had a book stashed in every room of the house so that I'd never be stuck without something to read.

Name one book that made you laugh?
My FamilyAnd Other Animals

Name one book that made you cry?
The Peppermint Pig

Which fictional character would you like to meet?
Thursday Next

Which book would you give to your best friend as a present?
The Shipping News

Are you inspired by any particular author or book?
Way too many to mention! I do like beautifully written genre books, especially crime. They're a great reminder never to be lazy in your writing.

What is your guilty pleasure read?
Well, yesterday I was in a charity shop and picked up an old copy of Jilly Cooper's 'Octavia'...

Who are your favourite authors?
How long have you got?

What book have you re-read?
I recently re-read the Cazalet series back to back. It was like catching up with old friends. And I have periodic Austen binges.

What book have you given up on?
 I Am Pilgrim.

Sarah Jasmon lives on a canal boat near Manchester with her children. 

She has had several short stories published, is curating a poetry anthology, and has recently graduated from the Creative Writing MA course at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

To find out more, visit

Follow her on Twitter @sarahontheboat

1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview and responses - I especially like the idea of living on a canal boat - very inspired!