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!