The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan

Greer Glover

The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan – Book Review

There’s a new depth to Sarah Morgan’s latest novel ‘The Summer Swap’ where a sense of reflection and wisdom gives the story a poignancy, and which sets it apart from her others.

There’s the usual examination of familial relationships and long-established friendships as you’d expect to find in Morgan’s books but here the overarching themes of being true to yourself means the three strong female protagonists must gain the courage to take themselves down a path that suits them, and only them.

What makes ‘The Summer Swap’ so refreshing is its characters who seemingly have it all by way of brains, money and supportive families but who also exist in circumstances that have evolved over time and not necessarily through choice. Are they fulfilled? No, they are not.

Characters

There is Cecelia, for decades eclipsed by her famous artist husband Cameron Lapthorne and who, a year on from his death, keeps quiet that she hasn’t grieved as deeply as people expect her to: ‘So much of her life had been spent letting things happen. It was time she took control.’

There’s Kristen, Cecelia’s grown-up daughter, forever keeping Cameron’s light alive yet deeply unhappy as a wife to a top surgeon who is married to his work. She may have the material benefits of a wealthy and prestigious family but she is, essentially, ‘alone and isolated’: ‘Resentment layered itself on top of other layers of resentment that had built up during their marriage.’

And there’s former medical student Lily, who dreams of being an artist but feels guilty that her parents poured their every penny into her education and she’s decided not to be a doctor. She feels ‘crushed by the pressure of work and parental expectation’ and is racked with self-doubt.

Paths

The paths each choose will depend on listening to their inner voice and having the courage to act, and to do this they need to understand what really matters to them.

Troubled marriages, broken friendships, disappointment, regret – these are the themes on the flip side of the pursuit of true happiness which Sarah Morgan explores in equal measure.

Profound

‘The Summer Swap’ is a novel for grown-ups. By all means enjoy ‘smart, loyal and creative’ Todd as the handsome love interest, and the romanticism of Dune Cottage ‘nestled among the dunes, separated from the ocean by soft sand and whispering seagrass.’ It is a wish-list cottage, as is the artist’s barefoot life, and as a summer escape, the story is perfectly Sarah Morgan: cosy, heartwarming and positive.

But Morgan’s more important messages are ones that touch on the profound: to stay in a marriage requires as much courage as it does to walk away and does true fulfilment come at the expense of someone or something else?

It’s these messages that makes ‘The Summer Swap’ feel all the more real.

‘The Summer Swap’ is published on 23 May, 2024 by HQStories.

Find this review is on Goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/6395097035

You can also read my blog on why writing book reviews can help you improve your own fiction:

https://greerglover.co.uk/want-to-write-better-fiction-then-write-book-reviews/

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Greer Glover

Fiction Editor I Mentor I Writer