Clarissa is almost seventeen when the spell of her childhood is broken. It is 1914, the beginning of a blissful, golden summer – and the end of an era. Deyning Park is in its heyday, the large country house filled with the laughter and excitement of privileged youth preparing for a weekend party. When Clarissa meets Tom Cuthbert, home from university and staying with his mother, the housekeeper, she is dazzled. Tom is handsome and enigmatic; he is also an outsider. Ambitious, clever, his sights set on a career in law, Tom is an acute observer, and a man who knows what he wants. For now, that is Clarissa.
As Tom and Clarissa’s friendship deepens, the wider landscape of political life around them is changing, and another story unfolds: they are not the only people in love. Soon the world – and all that they know – is rocked by a war that changes their lives for ever.
Romantic Historical Fiction
Heat level: 2
Reviewer Rating 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Evangeline Holland
The Last Summer is a book of love and loss–mirrored in both Clarissa’s personal life and in the decline of English high society in the wake of WWI. The star-crossed love affair between Clarissa and Tom was frustrating, melancholy, and heartbreaking, particularly when the youthful and naive Clarissa’s missteps lead to their separation. Bracketing their story is a romance told in letters between a mysterious writer and their lover, whose own star-crossed affair (and the revelation of their identities) is equally poignant. A must read if you seek a novel whose emotional impact reverberates long after you’ve read the end.