Friday 26 May 2023

The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop BLOG TOUR #TheGirlsOfSummer @WhatKatieBWrote @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #BookReview


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 by Katie Bishop was published in hardback on 25 May 2023 by Bantam / Transworld.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

The Girls of Summer had me hooked from the opening pages, I was totally consumed by Rachel's character. She's a woman who is totally relatable, a woman with a past that she looks back on often. A past that she yearns for, a time in her life when she was happy. As the story evolves, the reader becomes aware that Rachel's recollections of that time may be skewed, and very slowly, she realises too. 

The story opens as thirty-something Rachel and her husband Tom are holidaying on the small Greek island where Rachel spent a summer back when she was just seventeen. When Rachel bumps into a familiar face from the past, she grasps the opportunity to re-connect with the love of her life; Alistair. 

Alistair was much older than Rachel and unlike most people, he noticed her, and made her feel special. Despite the age-gap, and Alistair's mysterious job working for a well-known wealthy property magnate, Rachel falls deeply in love. She stays on the island when her travelling companion returns home. She works in a bar, she drinks, takes drugs and attends many parties. There are a lot of wealthy, older men at these parties, and the girls of summer become the entertainment. 

Told in Rachel's voice, in two time lines; the then and the now, this is a darkly chilling story that will resonate with most women. As the rise of the #MeToo movement steadily increases, we have so much more understanding these days of what happened back then, and how men used women, especially young impressionable women, girls really, for their sordid pleasures. 

Slowly and steadily, with the help of some of the other women who were on the island with her, Rachel begins to realise that her memories of that long hot summer, and how she was in love are not the real truth. She has told herself for years that Alistair was the love of her life, she has imagined how life would have been for them as a couple. Her rose-tinted spectacles become blurred, until eventually, she has to remove them and face up to the reality of what her life has been. 

The Girls of Summer is a very impressive debut from an author who writes with authority and sensitivity. Rachel and her friends are never blamed by this author, they are depicted exactly as they were; young, naive and looking for fun. 

The sense of place is astonishing. The heat, the sea, the busy bar, are all described perfectly. There's a definite hint of Sabine Durrant's writing here too; another author that I admire. 

An eye-opening and very clever novel about perception and realisation. About manipulation and fear. This is a fabulous novel and one that I highly recommend. 

KATIE BISHOP is a writer and journalist based in Birmingham, UK. 

She grew up in the Midlands before moving to Oxford to work in publishing in her early twenties. 
Whilst working as an assistant editor she started writing articles in her spare time, going on to be published in the New York Times, Guardian, Independent and Vogue.

Katie started writing The Girls of Summer during the first UK COVID lockdown, after becoming increasingly interested in stories emerging from the #MeToo movement. 
The novel is inspired by her own experiences of backpacking, and by her interest in how personal narratives can be reshaped and understood in light of cultural and social changes.

In 2020, Katie moved back to the Midlands, and now lives in Birmingham with her partner. She is a full-time writer. 

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