The Summer of Broken Stories
By James Wilson
Dealing with powerful themes of friendship, rebellion and betrayal, The Summer of Broken Stories is James Wilson’s long-awaited new novel.Tweet
This was one of my favourite books from BookSwap Durham this year. I thought the characters were very well described and the countryside vividly portrayed. I soon became emmersed in the plot and would highly recommend the novel to others.
James Wilson's The Summer of Broken Stories is set in 1950's rural England and is a charming, cleverly plotted novel with stories within stories and told from 10 year old Mark's viewpoint. He and his new friend, Lou (a girl), both love imaginary games and befriend a man, Aubrey, who loves to tell stories and who is living in a railway carriage in the woods. Despite being told by the adults in the village to keep away from the man the children continue to visit and swap stories with him and layer upon layer gets added to the novel. I found it impossible to read without bringing todays accepted norms of child/adult relationships to it which added yet another layer: there's a man inviting children into his isolated home, a woman giving a 10 year old boy alcohol to drink, children being left home alone and being allowed to roam the town and countryside unchecked. Of course all of these things would have been quite acceptable in the 1950's but I couldn't help todays expectations creeping into my mind and increasing the tension. Meanwhile the author continues to build suspicion and tension as Aubrey's uncomfortable story is slowly revealed. Mark and Lou's understanding of events is considerably at odds with the views of the adults and much of the novel is about the children trying to figure things out for themselves and struggling with issues of friendship and loyalty, family, duty and the expectaions of adults and each other. They are almost adolescent yet still children and this is almost a coming-of-age story as Mark and Lou's relationship is tested and the final betrayal comes to light. This is a delightful story with sinister undertones and lots for a reading group to discuss and/or reminisce about