Oh this book is just something else! Words just do not do it justice, but I can honestly say that this is my new favourite book. That’s how good it is.
How can I best describe it? It’s like childhood summertime in the English countryside. It reminds me of growing up in my home town and I find it a goddamn shame that I only just discovered it now because this is something that younger me would have really needed.
It’s a coming of age tale about two sister Cassandra and Rose. However, the books perspective is from Cassandra and it is her journals that we are reading from. They are very much the thoughts of a seventeen year old. She lives with her quirky family including the vivacious and extravagant Topaz (her model stepmother) and her father whose been suffering with severe writers block for several years. They live in an old tumble down castle in the Sussex countryside and endure an interesting but poor life. That is until two American chaps come to town and sweep the girls off their feet.
There are a myriad of other characters involved in the framework as you travel through Cassandra’s first experience of the real world and adulthood (other than what she’s read in Jane Austen novels). You go through it all with her and get wrapped up in love triangles and late night swimming.
Like I said I cannot do this novel justice enough so I shall leave you with a couple of quotes, snippets of my favourite lines from the novel.
The thought came to me that perhaps it is the loving that counts, not the being loved in return- that perhaps true loving can never know anything but happiness.
-Page 267 : Realisations about the nature of love.
And I knew she was gone forever… she makes me think of the corpse of a dressmakers doll.
-Page 294 : In reference to losing imaginary friends from childhood, when reality ensues.
It is part of a follow-my-leader game of second best we have all been playing… It isn’t a very good game; the people you play with are apt to get hurt.
It isn’t enough to give. Not for the giver
– Both from Page 406 : Cassandra understands the cruel nature of unrequited love and how each of us falls victim to it at some point or another.
As you can see it is a very thoughtful novel which manages to be both witty, wise and real with the theme of love. I am in awe of Smith’s writing and intend to read more of her book, especially her autobiographies.
This would also be a good novel for anyone doing Love Through the Ages at A-Level for your coursework or even to use as a comparison in the exam for unrequited or lost love.
5 stars all round!