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The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh – Book review

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Jenn and Greg, a married couple in their forties, holiday every summer on the Mediterranean coast, renting a villa on the island of Deia, nestled in amongst rocky coves and sheer drops. Jenn is enjoying the languid, sultry heat and spends days lying by the pool, eating out with her husband at tapas bars at night.

 Although everything seems idyllic at first, tensions are simmering under the surface. She buys a white embroderie anglaise dress in a street market in an attempt to feel young and desired again in a marriage that may be comfortable and familiar but mundane. As she lies on the beach, she envies the young lithe, unblemished bodies around her, trying to catch her husband looking. The dialogue is full of thinly disguised irritations and prickliness, acutely observing the tensions within a long running relationship.

It is the arrival of Emma, Greg’s teenage daughter from a previous relationship, (whom Jenn has raised as her own daughter since the death of the mother) and her seventeen year old boyfriend Nathan, that brings these tensions to the fore.

Angered at the way Greg seems to favour and cave in to Emma over her, and acutely aware of Emma’s burgeoning sexuality compared with her own, it is this fateful combination which propels her into an intense, driven affair with the flirty and responsive Nathan.

Jenn is swept up by desire until she is risking everything. Her relationship with Emma, her marriage, and reputation are at stake. The pace drags you along with her until you too, as the reader, are swept up in it, your moral compass spinning, and have to step back, breathless.

The Lemon Grove is published by Tinder Press.

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