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It has been a bad summer for Thaddeus Davenant. His wife--who he married for her money, never loved, but had come to appreciate for her kindness--has been killed in a road accident. Left alone with an infant daughter, Thaddeus advertises for a nanny, but when none of the respondents seem to be acceptable, his mother-in-law moves in to care for little Georgina. But one applicant, Pettie, surprised that she didn't get the job, becomes obsessed with the much older Thaddeus, his sad story, and his privileged lifestyle.
Although they come from two different worlds, Thaddeus and Pettie have one thing in common: an inability to love, at least in a normal way. Thaddeus's upper class parents were distant and critical while Pettie, raised in an orphanage, only knew the kind of love extended by a "Sunday uncle." Surprised by his own feelings for his new daughter, Thaddeus begins to open his heart and to feel for others, including Pettie and a former mistress who calls him to her deathbed. Pettie's obsession, however, takes them all into darker, more dangerous territory.
Trevor is a master at depicting the broad divide between the upper and lower classes as well as the depths of the human heart and the psychological effects of a loveless childhood. Part of his mastery is that he is able to unfold all this subtly, without whacking his readers over the head with a purpose and a moral. While Death in Summer may not be Trevor's best novel, it is well worth reading.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I found this hard to follow and dreadfully boring. I recently listened to the unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo and, honestly, that felt like a shorter listen. TO BE FAIR: I probably lack the ability to enjoy subtle, elliptical narratives of ordinary people. If you love Terrence Malick movies, you should probably get this. The writing is beautiful. But if you're like me, and you want stories with compelling plots and fascinating characters, you should probably pass on this.