I bought this book as a part of Harper Perennial Collection set. I didn’t even know I had it. When I came across the title on my spreadsheet which lists all the books that I own (out of which almost 400 are still unread) I couldn’t recall it all but it looked like the sort of lighter lyrical book one might take on holiday (if one is the sort of person who doesn’t take Fifty Shades of Grey on her holiday).
On the surface it is full of the really basic ingredients: coming of age, mystery, secrets, small village, drama, etc. But of course it all depends on how you cook those ingredients and Susan Fletcher cooked them well. She seems very aware of the clichés she might be falling into and swerves around them skillfully. She resists the temptation to which succumb so many airport books – the annoying ‘one secret explains all’ solution. In the real life no secret is powerful enough to explain a whole life or even a few lives.
Of course, it never stops the characters. They will always try to make sense of whatever happened. Just as Eve Green does, now grown up and pregnant, revisiting that summer of over twenty years ago, asking herself a couple of what-if’s and mulling over a few regrets.
Behind the mystery, the secrets and the drama, there is also lurking a very beautiful understated love story, possibly the prettiest love story I have read in a while. Again, kudos to Ms Fletcher for pulling it off without resorting to mushiness and sentimentality.
Yet what really won me over in ‘Eve Green’ was the landscape. The eight year old Evie moved to a small village in Wales following the death of her mother and that village will grew to be a part of her the way a big city could never be. This attachment to the scenery shows on pages. Maybe this book caught me at the right moment, when I am sick of London and miss the Polish landscape, the fields, the meadows, the forests, the lakes, even the sea and the dunes. I might’ve grown up in Warsaw but I was exiled to the countryside every summer (and that’s two-three months at a time which for a child is near eternity). Spare the dead girl, ‘Eve Green’ really reminded me of my own summers spent between cows, fields and dirt roads.
I would be very curious to know how she developed as a writer since this debut book was published when she was only twenty-five. Her newest, fifth novel (The Silver Dark Sea) has just been released and it is not on my hottest to-read list.