That Summer (Andrew Greig)

09 +00002012-12-18T15:54:21+00:0031 2012 § Leave a comment

That SummerLast week I was laid low with ’flu, which meant that working in more than short stretches was difficult.  I didn’t feel well enough to be able to luxuriate in the orgy of reading that can sometimes be the consolation prize of illness, but I did manage to complete one book, That Summer, by Andrew Greig.  It is one of the most evocative and delicate accounts of the development of a relationship under shadow of threat (the summer in question is 1941 and the lovers are a Hurricane fighter pilot and a radio intelligence officer) that I have read.  Among the many things that Andrew Greig succeeds in doing incredibly well is writing about sex without making it over-sensational, coy or grotesque.  The accounts of the doubts and minor disloyalties experienced by the couple as they fall ever more deeply in love are executed with the light stroke of genius.  As the book draws to an end, so does the Battle of Britain, and the reader is almost lulled into believing that Len, the male protagonist, will survive …

It is a book that defies genre – it is about a romance, but the novel is certainly not ‘romantic’ in the accepted sense.  Nor is it self-consciously literary.  It strikes me as being extremely well-researched, but its main thrust is not to capture history, except in the sense of subtly pointing out the perennial destructiveness of human nature.  It is not a crime novel, but in some respects it reads like one, with war itself the fearsome psychopath that is made to stalk real people with hopes, ambitions and love, on both sides of the Channel.

It helped me through the week!

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