SHORT AND SWEET REVIEW: THE LEMON GROVE BY HELEN WALSH

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). Sometimes I have too many books to do a full-length review!

The first time I picked this up, I wasn’t sure about it, so I left it on the TBR shelf until the mood was right. I ended up reading the book in a couple of hours. Here’s the blurb:

Cover of Lemon Grove by Helen WalshOne hot summer. One week in a villa on the idyllic outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of Majorca. One family where the carefully-laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken. Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool and intimate dinners at the local restaurants. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that puts relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down.

My thoughts: On first glance this seems to be a story of sex and desire, but that’s greatly understating the complex narrative; the novel includes sub-themes about human relationships, sexuality and ageing, through a subtle interplay of obsession, betrayal and lust. At the forefront is Jenn’s attraction to, and subsequent affair with, Nathan; simmering in the background are her questions about her marriage, her changing relationship with her step-daughter, a lingering sadness about not having her own child, and her desire to be thought attractive even as she ages. It’s not as simple as sex, nor is it as simple as a character having an affair (if you view it purely that way, you miss the darker undertones and the real longings of the character which transcend sex). Walsh conveyed the intricacy of the human heart as evocatively as she did the hot, heavy atmosphere of Majorca.

My copy was courtesy of Hachette. You can buy it here (RRP $26.99).