The Summer of Secrets is our July book of the month, and next week we’ll be discussing it in our book group. In advance of that, we asked Sarah’s editor, Bella Bosworth, to tell us about the book from her perspective…
Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing finished copies of The Summer of Secrets land on my desk. In publishing, we tend to talk about things landing on our desks – manuscripts, submissions, ideas – when actually nearly everything appears on a screen. But a finished book is the exuberantly physical exception: something to be picked up and admired as soon as it arrives. And The Summer of Secrets is one of the books that I’ve worked on that has drawn the most admiring glances: the haunting, beautiful cover tells a whole story in the split second you look at it.
And what a story it is. In sixteen-year-old Helen, Sarah Jasmon has created a character whom I know many readers will identify with as I have. Her small, lonely world is turned on its head when the Dover family move into a nearby tumbledown cottage in a whirl of colour, charm and eccentricity – but they bring a darkness that’s just as compelling as it is dangerous. So when, thirty years later, we see Helen is once more alone, we must trace back what happened to one tumultuous, heady summer’s night . . .
But I shall stop myself before I tell the whole story! After all, it’s easy to talk at length, to say and then, and then excitedly, to extol the qualities of your author’s writing, her characters and insight. Much harder is to express, in a pithy line or two, why you love the book – what it is that makes it stand out.
So while I can tell you that it’s a story that gripped me and moved me (and that I feel extremely lucky to have had the chance to edit Sarah’s powerful novel), and that we’ve had incredible early reviews from authors like Carys Bray, Vanessa Lafaye and Claire Fuller (and an equally enthusiastic reception from countless bloggers), as an editor, I need to make sure this book gets under your skin, and make you – and many more readers out there – want to read it, too.
And it was when I was rereading the manuscript earlier this year that I came across a line that, I realised, I had been turning over in my mind for months.
She pauses, takes a deep shaking breath. “Helen, what do you remember about that night?”
Because imagine knowing that everything you loved fell apart on one night – but you can’t remember what happened. Something terrible went wrong and you might have had something to do with it – but you can’t remember. Now imagine spending thirty years thinking that it was your fault . . .
That’s the thought that’s been under my skin ever since I first read The Summer of Secrets. Whether it’s this idea, the beautifully intriguing cover or the incredible early reviews we’ve received, I think this book will get under your skin, too.
The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon will be published by Transworld on August 13th and is our July book of the month.