A Stolen Summer by Allegra Huston: Inspirational, empowering and beautifully imagined - book review -

A Stolen Summer
A Stolen Summer
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After being trapped in a loveless marriage for half her lifetime, Eve Armanton suddenly has the chance to embark on a passionate affair… but the man in question is almost the same age as her son.

After being trapped in a loveless marriage for half her lifetime, Eve Armanton suddenly has the chance to embark on a passionate affair… but the man in question is almost the same age as her son.

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey and discover an emotionally charged meeting of both mind and body in Allegra Huston’s brave and enchanting debut novel which dares to imagine a sweeping, sizzling romance between an older woman and a younger man – a forbidden love that defies both expectation and tradition.

Huston, an Anglo-American who has written screenplays and one previous book, Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found, delivers so much more than a regulation love story in this dazzling and beautifully observed tale of a middle-aged woman defying convention to find her true self.

Eve Armanton from New Jersey is wife to Larry, mother to her 24-year-old son Allan, and best friend to antiques store owner Debbie. Years ago, frightened by passion, Eve settled for less… marrying safely and building a solid, ordinary life.

Now Allan has left home, Eve no longer recognises the middle-aged woman staring back at her each morning, or the cold, loveless and stale marriage that she finds herself left in. She still feels fit and strong but at 48, she knows that ‘the ugly milestone looms.’

Weekends are her guilt-free joy as she seeks out hidden treasures in New York City for Debbie’s shop and it’s there she finds a mysterious but broken musical instrument, carved with twining vines, and is overcome with a desire to ‘make this beautiful thing whole again.’

Shortly afterwards, she bumps into her brother’s old college friend, Robert Burnett, and his son Micajah who stirs Eve in ways she hasn’t felt in years. Micajah is twenty years younger than herself, a musician, a seeker, a bohemian and he is soon ‘throwing her off her axis.’

Micajah offers to help solve the mystery of the musical instrument, but he also offers youth, freedom and a newly-kindled ‘fizzing confusion,’ and Eve takes the dangerous and liberating step into a passionate affair.

Eve is about to discover who she was, who she is and who she can be but can this euphoric connection last? Defenceless now against the power of her fantasies, Eve cannot retreat back to safety as she is no longer the woman she was. And even now, she can hardly imagine the woman she will become…

Sassy, sexy, verbally elegant and sensually vibrant, A Stolen Summer is a perfectly paced and exhilarating portrayal of one woman’s voyage into a corner of herself she has suppressed for decades resulting in an original and personal odyssey filled with delicious flashes of comedy and moments of unexpected poignancy.

Huston is an intelligent and perceptive writer, digging out the truths of what it means to be a woman caught precariously on the cusp of fading youth and the onset of middle age; a time of introspection, of dwelling on lost chances, and taking stock of past, present and future.

For Eve, her relationship with Micajah is not just a reminder of the overwhelming power of sexual attraction but the catalyst for liberation and change, the prompt to re-evaluate both her marriage and her life, and to finally decide her own destiny.

Inspirational, empowering and beautifully imagined…

(HQ, paperback, £7.99)