I was overjoyed when my new Isabel Ashdown turned up, especially as it arrived in the middle of a heatwave to rival 1976 (or so they say – I was only 18 months old then…). I’m a huge fan of her writing and I’d been looking forward to this novel for months – it didn’t disappoint.
The gathering pace of the heatwave is the perfect backdrop to this simmering novel about secrets and passions on the Isle of Wight. The story begins on New Year’s Eve, as 1970 gives way to 1971 and Joanna and Richard Wolff are at a very seventies-style party. Joanna is searching for a key fob in a bowl of keys, but whose key fob is she looking for…
Fast forward to 1976 and their oldest child, Luke, is spending his last summer of the island before he goes to Poly on the mainland. He is looking forward to a summer of passion and relaxation, but as the heatwave intensifies, tensions in his family life heighten as dark secrets are uncovered, his friendship with awkward Martin is threatened, and the object of his affections proves a little out of reach.
As with all of her books, it is the wonderful descriptions and characters created by Isabel that really make this novel. I loved Luke’s younger sister, Kitty, and his foul-mouthed Nan, and could understand his unease in his relationship with Martin, plus the music and popular culture references leave a perfect picture of Britain during the 1970s. I absolutely loved it!