The Last Days of Summer. Vanessa Ronan

The Last Days of Summer is the darkest book I have read in a long time, it charts what happens when a convict is released from prison back to a community that will not accept him.

The writer attempts to get inside the minds and motivations of people filled with hatred and a lust for violence. This would be too grim and dark to be a book I could enjoy but for the fact that the writing is so nuanced. Family loyalties are explored, as is tenderness, the need to protect and a partially understood need for redemption.

The characters are fascinating, particularly the dysfunctional family of Lizzie, Katie, Joanne and Jasper; I was also fascinated by the least Christlike preacher you could imagine, who uses a sermon on forgiveness to argue that some sins are too large to be forgiven! Yet even Rev Gordon is a three-dimensional character with some kindness mixed in with his rush to judge and condemn.

Because characters are so multi-layered, I think they will live on with me for some time – the fact that not all the crime in the book is resolved adds to this. And even in chilly Scotland you can feel the heat of the book’s Texan summer.

I awarded this novel 4 stars.

I received this ebook free from NetGalley. The Last Days of Summer was published in the UK by Penguin on 13 July 2017.

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