As a teenager, Rachel spent a summer on a remote Greek island. She soaked up the sun, made new friends, partied, and fell in love. Alistair was twenty years Rachel’s senior and worked for a wealthy businessman. Rachel and her friends were soon invited to parties at the home of the illustrious Henry Taylor and found themselves in a vortex of alcohol, drugs, and dark secrets.
Fifteen years later, memories of Rachel’s experience that summer are rising up and threatening to consume her. She finds herself increasingly turning away from her husband and obsessing about Alistair and what could have been. But with her memories of the time she spent with him, comes all the memories that accompany them—darker and more explosive things than Rachel ever imagined.
When she reunites with some of the other girls from that summer, Rachel is finally compelled to consider everything that happened that summer, and that some things may have happened differently than she recalls.
The Girls of Summer is the haunting debut novel by Katie Bishop. It’s a compelling exploration of youth, power imbalance, deceit, consent, and the subjectivity of memory.
Bishop has done an amazing job of drawing the reader into the story. The world is well-crafted and the emotional impact palpable. That said, for a while I felt as though there was a bit of an emotional detachment in Rachel, but given what she went through, detachment is completely understandable. Even with the emotional distance and ambiguity that Rachel seemed to have at times, there was a powerful emotional punch at the end of the book. This is a deeply sobering book and left an impact on me.
I highly recommend The Girls of Summer. It’s available 6/6/23.
*I received a copy of from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*