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February Book Club.....Summertime

(108 Posts)
gma Mon 26-Jan-15 17:51:28

Lovely surprise this morning when my copy of Summertime arrived, and a Hard Back too!!
Look forward to reading this book, but must finish The Minaturist first!!
Many thanks Gransnet, it brightened up a dull Monday morning!Look forward to posting my comments!!

sedgwick20 Fri 20-Feb-15 20:37:57

What a lovely surprise to receive a copy of 'Summertime' in the post! I have nearly finished it and thoroughly enjoying it, it really draws you in to the characters. Thanks to Vanessa for writing such an interesting book.

Liz46 Sat 21-Feb-15 12:48:53

I probably wouldn't have chosen this book in a shop or library but I thoroughly enjoyed it and must learn to try different types of books. Apart from being a good story, it was informative. I had no idea of how badly the war veterans were treated. The description of the hurricane was very vivid. I certainly would not like to experience one.

My 90 year old aunt has definitely got all her marbles and loves a good book so I will pass it on to her.

Thanks again for sending me a copy.

grandma60 Sat 21-Feb-15 19:32:06

That's what I love about this book club. It gets me reading books I would never have chosen for myself. It took me a while to pick this one up but once I started the first chapter I just couldn't put it down. Very well written with a lot of research put into it. I also didn't realize how badly the vetrans were treated. I also knew nothing about the hurricane

Andrews Sun 22-Feb-15 13:30:15

This is undoubtedly the best book I have read in a long time. It was an absolute joy to read. The characters were well portrayed and the imagery so vivid, I was transported back in time to 1935 to live through that hurricane with Missy. I shall be recommending this book to my friends, and eagerly await any new books from Vanessa LaFaye. 10/10 from me!��

granh1 Sun 22-Feb-15 16:53:12

Summertime is a fictional story based on real events – The labour day hurricane of 1935, and the unfair treatment of veteran soldiers returning from the first world war destitute.

The setting is the fictional small town of Heron Keys, and the plot revolves round the prejudices involved with apartheid. Fear and distrust by the white inhabitants to the war veterans working on a government project and living in appalling conditions. Fear and distrust by the black workers, who had seen equality in France, then come home to witness injustice and even lynching.

Both sides come together for a 4th July barbeque on the beach – segregated by a flimsy rope across the sand. Trouble ensues, and a white woman is seriously beaten. It assumed that the perpetrator is one of the black veterans, and feelings run high – lynching is in the air.
Everything is put on hold by the approach of a violent storm. To start with, the apartheid lines hold, even to the extent of white being given priority over black in the town storm shelter. In the end, everyone is equal in their fight to survive, clothes ripped off by the storm, bodies mutilated. We are all familiar with film footage of such natural catastrophes, but the writing makes it feel very real.

Woven into this, there is a love story, and other relationships – no details, I don’t want to spoil the book!

goose1964 Mon 23-Feb-15 08:42:27

this is a brilliant book - it really evokes the time & place & high running tensions

Circe1961 Mon 23-Feb-15 12:12:59

Hello Everyone, I have just joined Gransnet. I would love to be involved in the book club - can someone please tell me what I need to do to join in?
Thank you.

middleagespread Mon 23-Feb-15 13:23:49

The nondescript title and bland cover didn't encourage me to pick Summertime up. The fly leaf tempted me though, a chance to pick up a thread of history. Then wham, Chapter 1 took my breath away, one of the most memorable I have ever read.It's so much more than a love story -Henry's plight tugged on my heart strings. The storyline kept me turing the pages and the vivid description of the storm brought it all to life in a kaleidoscope of colours that jumped off the pages.Henry and Missie were believable but a lot of the smaller characters, good and bad also added substance to the story.Vanessa has given us a cracking story and colourful images. Oh, and I didn't mention that I seldom read American authors but will certainly read another of yours Vanessa.

joannapiano Mon 23-Feb-15 15:00:26

A real rollercoaster of a read, just like the hurricane.
My initial thoughts, having read the first few chapters,- what an awful place to live in 1935. Hot, humid and often violent weather, mosquitos, alligators and the terrible racial divide. Not to mention the wife-beating and the treatment of the Veterans. I then re-read the author's historical note, "Life in the Florida Keys of the 1930's was easy compared to other places during the Great depression." What!
I really enjoyed this book and the characterisation was top notch. I was rooting for Missy and Henry to survive, so sad about Jimmy.
I see that the author lives in Wiltshire now, and would like to ask if she returns to Florida very often and has that area inspired her to set another novel there?

shysal Mon 23-Feb-15 19:05:50

Welcome Circe1961. If you go to 'My Gransnet' at the top of the page, you can sign up for the email newsletters. These will give you the opportunity to apply for the book each month. Numbers are limited, but I am usually successful. There are also other give-aways and competitions. My grandchildren and I have enjoyed many books and other freebies. Good luck, and I look forward to reading your contributions to the threads which interest you, but be warned, GN is addictive!

northwest Tue 24-Feb-15 09:51:46

Hello Vanessa, like everyone else on here I loved your debut novel. Most of the questions I would have asked about the book itself have already been asked by other people so I wanted to ask you about the journey of writing it instead. I read somewhere that you had breast cancer while you were writing it and wondered how that affected you both in terms of what you wrote and how you wrote it. I must say I am hugely inspired that you went through all that and still managed to produce such a captivating novel. Congratulations to you and I hope you are now in good health.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 24-Feb-15 12:50:21

Sending the questions over to Vanessa now so watch out for the answers - coming soon

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:37:49

Gagagran

I know that this book is based on factual happenings and the writing is wonderfully descriptive of the power of nature. The characters are well drawn and the story is full of tension and the horrors of war and also segregation and all the injustice associated with that.

I like books which give me insights and this one certainly does. It is a thought provoking read and hard to think that the author now lives in Wiltshire which must feel like a million miles from Florida!

This is interesting because I really believe that I was only able to write this book because of living in England for a long time. It exposed me to the history of WWI for the first time, and gave me the perspective needed to write about it. Sitting in my freezing office in Marlborough did feel surreal sometimes!

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:39:14

cathisherwood

What an interesting book. The plight of the veterans is surely another shameful well kept secret in Americas past. I am pleased that although the book is based on fact all the characters are fictional as I hate it when authors characterise real people who have no way of commenting on how they have depicted.

. The events haven’t been covered up, just forgotten. I agree, which is why I also changed the name of the town. I wanted to be free to make up things which never happened, to people who never existed, as a way of shining a light on things that did happen.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:40:29

cathisherwood

The force of the storm was devastating and I would like to ask Vanessa if she ever felt scared by hurricanes she experienced while living in Florida
I would also like to thank her for including the further reading appendix - it was such an fascinating event and deserves to be more widely known about.
Can I also ask what she intends researching for her next book - cant wait

Hurricanes were a common occurrence when I was growing up, but luckily there were none of the really dangerous kind. For kids, it seemed like an adventure to tape up all the windows and hide in the closet until it was over. I’m glad that you found the resources useful, they add another dimension to the story.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:41:04

nonnanna

Gransnet, thank you. A brilliant book. Full of descriptions that filled my head with the characters, places and events taking places. A social study of life in the South, the black/white divide and apartheid all woven into a great tale set around actual historical events. It has inspired me to find out more about the veterans. Like cathisherwood I am keen to know what Vanessa Lafaye is having published next.

I’ve got some ideas, but I’m also keen to hear from readers about this. I may be revisiting these characters in this setting, at an earlier time in their lives. Would this be of interest? Anyone with an opinion can share it on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/vanessalafayewriter . I’d love to hear from you.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:42:24

merlotgran

I think Summertime is an excellent book. I knew nothing of the Labor Day hurricane and will now do some research to learn more. There are certainly some parallels to be drawn with Hurricane Katrina. Although we are in the UK I think it's a shame that there have been no films, documentaries or dramas covering this event in American history - at least none that I know of.

SPOILER ALERT!

Just one question.... I expected Henry to survive but I wondered if there would be any backlash because he'd abducted Jimmy when making his escape. Dwayne thought his nephew was out of harm's way and not heading back into danger.

As Henry was mostly responsible for their fate, were you not tempted to let Jimmy live as well?

Thanks for a great read.

Great question! I imagined a scene where Henry would apologise to Dwayne for not keeping him safe, and Dwayne forgiving him because it was his fault that Henry ran off. In my first finished draft, Jimmy survived (along with Selma). I liked both characters so much, but decided that I was being too sentimental, and so changed their fates in the final draft.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:44:08

kyalami

Summertime is such a good read. You can almost imagine being there.
How long did it take Vanessa to research her facts for the book?

I knew right away that this was a story that I had to dramatise. I did the initial research in about 6 months, but continued to research throughout whole writing period. I kept discovering new nuggets that were so fascinating, but I didn’t have room for it all. I had to cull 5 walk-on parts from the final draft, to improve the flow, but there was just so much great material. I couldn’t find space for it all, which is another reason to explore the resources at the end. You’ll find even more incredible detail there.

kyalami

Is there still much evidence in the Florida Keys area today as a reminder of the war veterans & how they had to re-adjust & were they eventually assisted?

There is a massive piece of evidence: the decapitated remains of the overseas railway which used to run all the way down to Key West. It was destroyed in the hurricane and never rebuilt. Most people who drive the highway don’t know what they’re looking at, or what happened to it. It’s a very poignant reminder. The story of how the railway was built would fill another book.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:44:36

joannapiano

A real rollercoaster of a read, just like the hurricane.
My initial thoughts, having read the first few chapters,- what an awful place to live in 1935. Hot, humid and often violent weather, mosquitos, alligators and the terrible racial divide. Not to mention the wife-beating and the treatment of the Veterans. I then re-read the author's historical note, "Life in the Florida Keys of the 1930's was easy compared to other places during the Great depression." What!
I really enjoyed this book and the characterisation was top notch. I was rooting for Missy and Henry to survive, so sad about Jimmy.
I see that the author lives in Wiltshire now, and would like to ask if she returns to Florida very often and has that area inspired her to set another novel there?

I do go back often to see my family, but I never imagined writing a book about Florida until I stumbled on the story of the hurricane. I may well revisit the setting for my next book.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:45:27

northwest

Hello Vanessa, like everyone else on here I loved your debut novel. Most of the questions I would have asked about the book itself have already been asked by other people so I wanted to ask you about the journey of writing it instead. I read somewhere that you had breast cancer while you were writing it and wondered how that affected you both in terms of what you wrote and how you wrote it. I must say I am hugely inspired that you went through all that and still managed to produce such a captivating novel. Congratulations to you and I hope you are now in good health.

I wrote the book in between bouts of cancer. I wasn’t able to write while having treatment either time, and can’t imagine trying to do that. After the first time in 2009, I stopped writing all together. I really thought that I was done, having failed to publish 2 novels of women’s fiction. It was only the power of the real events that made me want to try again. Summertime’ is the book that almost wasn’t.

VanessaLafaye Tue 24-Feb-15 15:46:59

You have made the month of Feb. so wonderful for me! I’m glad that you liked ‘Summertime’, including those who wouldn’t normally choose to read this kind of book.

Any members in the Marlborough, Wilts area are welcome to join in our big discussion evening on 7th March, where I’ll be answering questions from readers and talking about the issues with them. And there will be cake! All in aid of our local radiotherapy charity appeal. The information is here and everyone is welcome. I’d so love to meet some of you!

Please do come to my Facebook page or find me on Twitter @vanessalafaye .

Thanks again for making this a wonderful experience for a debut author!

Maniac Tue 24-Feb-15 20:31:11

Haven't yet finished -because the descriptions are so amazing and multi layered that I read them over and over.
I was hooked from the first page.One of the best books we've had on Gransnet.I will be eagerly awaiting the next one and looking out for your public appearances.
Thank you Vanessa

GrannyGlyn Tue 24-Feb-15 21:49:22

I haven't finished in time either but am enjoying it immensely.

The characters are so well described and the story so well written, surely this would make a great film

I will be looking out for your next book Vanessa. Thank you.

numberplease Wed 25-Feb-15 00:34:33

A book about the earlier lives of the characters would be great Vanessa, but equally so would be a follow up to Summertime, telling us how their lives progressed. Please!

Circe1961 Wed 25-Feb-15 17:07:10

Thank you shysal, I'll do that now.