If you’re jealously watching everyone else jet off to the sun whilst you’re stuck at home, the best antidote is a book that fills your senses with all those delicious holiday by the sea vibes. Enter Isabelle Broom’s The Summer Trip, an escapist novel that transports readers to sunny Corfu for a summer of dysfunctional families, long-buried secrets and second chances.
When Ava spent the summer she turned eighteen in Corfu, she wasn’t expecting to find love. But just as quickly as she found it, she lost it again, returning to England and settling down to an ordinary life of motherhood and teaching. Now single, estranged from her family and preparing to wave her daughter off to university, Ava is facing a future where she’s unsatisfied and alone. Returning to Corfu for the summer with her teenager Rosie in tow, Ava must finally face Niko, the man who broke her heart, and the life she thought would once be hers – a life now being lived by her sister.
Nobody writes evocative and romantic travel novels better than Isabelle Broom. Against the backdrop of glittering seas, pristine beaches and delectable tables of typically Greek food, Broom weaves the complications of first love, lost love and endlessly difficult family love. Sure, if you’re of the cynical variety of reader, you might find certain elements of the story a little too convenient, but for those of us who unashamedly love a story that plays out exactly as you hope it will from beginning to end, The Summer Trip is as satisfying as it is beautifully atmospheric.
There was no way I could think about the place without being reminded of what happened all those years ago, of the regret that had lingered inside me ever since. Perhaps returning to the island would act as an exorcism of sorts; maybe it would show me that what I assumed to be perfection was in fact mundane.”
What makes this such a comforting read is how ordinary and relatable the characters are. Ava is not a perfect mother. She holds on too tightly to her daughter and she’s distanced herself from her sisters because it’s easier than dealing with the pain of the past. But if this book tells us anything, it’s that motherhood is hard and everyone has a different approach to it, as we see with Ava’s own mother, who didn’t give her own daughters enough or equal attention. This isn’t just a novel about motherhood though – it’s also about sisterhood and the shifting relationship between Ava and her younger siblings, Mattie and Ophelia, who are also struggling with life and love.
Whilst the complicated family dynamics are a huge part of the story, the big draw of Broom’s novels is always the romance at the heart of them. The Summer Trip has a heart-tugging lost love storyline full of tension, pining and lingering feelings. Brief glimpses into the past help to paint a picture of Ava and Niko as idealistic youngsters that first summer. Broom captures the magic and fire of young love so vividly that you can understand why Ava didn’t ever truly move on; why she poured all her energy into raising her daughter, so that she didn’t have to dwell on what she’d lost.
The Summer Trip is the next best thing to actually travelling to Corfu this summer – plus it has all the drama, romance and angst you could possibly want from a contemporary holiday read. There’s even a suitably loathsome antagonist who manages to unite the disparate family at the book’s heart – because love might bring people together, but so does mutual hatred…
The Summer Trip was published by Hodder Paperbacks on 23 June 2022