Spending summer with your sister is a notion that could instil either dread or happiness. For Polly and Clare, it’s the former.
Summer With My Sister follows two siblings who couldn’t be more different. While Polly is making a mint in the capital, thriving on big business deals in the finance world, single mother of two Clare is scraping to make ends meet in the village of Elderchurch, the place where both sisters grew up. They share a strained relationship and rarely see each other. Things change unexpectedly, however, when Polly loses her high flying job and swanky flat overlooking the Thames and moves back to the place she thought she would never return to. Soon the sisters are living together for the first time in years, ruffling each other’s feathers and finding that the past can reappear with surprising results.
In the opening chapters, there was one word I frequently used to describe Polly: scary. Her home is the City, drinking in exclusive members only clubs, getting her cleaner sacked and sipping champagne with horrible people. This was a far cry from Clare, Polly’s caring younger sister who works as a receptionist in a doctor’s surgery to provide for her children, Leila and Alex. I couldn’t help but take refuge in Clare’s cosy home, away from the cold surroundings of the capital. When Polly moves back to Elderchurch, she couldn’t be more out of place in Hampshire, and with her family and the life she couldn’t wait to escape.
Polly and Clare have such different outlooks that at the start of the novel, I didn’t know how they would manage being friends, never mind sisters. But Lucy Diamond brilliantly portrays the growing relationship between the two sisters so you wonder how they got to the point of hardly ever speaking to each other. The transition of Polly and Clare from sparring siblings into a team was the most enjoyable part of the novel. They support each other, give advice on the man front, and learn what it is like to be sisters again.
Like the best women’s fiction, the novel features a strong supporting cast, like Polly and Clare’s loving and supportive parents Karen and Graham, Clare’s spirited children and ‘village wide-boy’ Jay Holmes. They all contribute in making the novel lively and amusing.
Summer With My Sister is one of those novels that has a real English charm to it: from the small village of Elderchurch to the description of the Hampshire countryside in summer and the close knit family of Polly and Clare. Elderchurch is a safe haven, where the reader, like Polly and Clare, finds comfort.
Summer With My Sister is a warm and funny novel about the more important things in life, like family, love and sisterhood. It is a sparkling book by Lucy Diamond.