Friday, December 07, 2007

The Great and Awful Summer - a review

We would like to thank Nimbus Publishing for generously providing us with a copy of the recently-published novel The Great and Awful Summer by Mitzi Dale.

Nimbus Publishing
Paperback • 236 pages
7 x 4.25 inches
9781551096148
1551096145
$9.95

The Great and Awful Summer is a young-adults novel which includes references from Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Mitzi Dale captures remarkably well everything that goes on inside a teenager's mind, creating at once a unique narrator in the person of Sarah Lockwood. Sarah, in the fashion of his namesake from Wuthering Heights, goes to live - albeit temporarily - and work at a Canadian family resort called CC Lodge after it owners: Cathy and Cliff, who live there with their daughter Cate.

Sarah Lockwood is a charming narrator indeed with a preference for speaking properly ("it's anyway, not anyways") and a keen interest in the phases of the common cold. Sarah too is a fan of a soap opera called Willow Heights, and goes starry-eyed at the mere mention of its main character, Ellis Bell, played by Edgar Linton. In real life Mr Linton is married to Isobel, who plays the part of Arabella in the soap opera.

Soon after arriving in CC Lodge Sarah starts to notice some mysterious goings-on at the Lodge, most notably Cliff's tormented attitude and Cate's strange disappearances and moody behaviour. Together with her nosy new friend Ellen, they decide to try and get to the bottom of the matter.

Meanwhile, Sarah discovers that Ellen used to work at the Linton household and wants to know all about it. Things will come to a head when the Lintons are known to own Only Island, just a small ferry-trip away from the Lodge itself.

Mitzi Dale includes Wuthering Heights in the acknowledgements of her book. It is fun for a fan of Wuthering Heights to try and spot all the similarities between the books, which are more than initially meet the eye. Perhaps, though, this knowledge of Wuthering Heights will be confusing at some point given the similarities in names but the differences in some plot developments having to do with relationships, etc., among the main characters.

These differences make the presence of Emily Brontë's novel in the background of the book feel more like a playful game than an inner motto or a teen rewriting (along the lines of the abominable MTV version of Wuthering Heights). A nice, if not memorable, bow to Emily Brontë's masterpiece for the Wii generation.

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