September was a big month, full of transitions and goodbyes. We started it in Cornwall, England, and ended it in Sausalito, California. It marked the end of our European summer and the beginning of our next adventure: sailing down the California coast to Mexico and beyond. In September, we prepared to say goodbye to the Bay Area, which we’ve called home for the last six years, and with teary eyes said “see you later,” to our nearest and dearest.
In between the preparations and goodbyes I read three books. Because we were in Cornwall at the onset of the month, I wanted to read a book set in Cornwall. If you haven’t noticed, I really like to read books that match my surroundings whenever possible. You can just feel them more that way, you know? So I did a little bit of research and found my first read, The Camomile Lawn. After finishing that, I went on to read Evvie Drake Starts Over and Conversations with Friends. Here are my thoughts on each!
The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley was lovely! Exactly what I was looking for. It starts off with five cousins coming together on holiday at their aunt’s Cornish estate in the summer of 1939. There’s beautiful Calypso (don’t you love that name?), who only wants to marry for money, and good-hearted Polly, who’s a little tired of living in Calypso’s shadow. Then there’s Walter, Polly’s brother, and Oliver, who is in love with Calypso, and Sophy, who’s only ten years old but old enough to be in love with Oliver and resent Calypso. And yes, I know they’re cousins. But it’s 1939, so, I don’t know, just accept and move past it. Anyway. That summer is the last of their youth with the onset of WWII The Camomile Lawn follows each cousin as their life unfolds throughout the war, between Cornwall, London, and the front. The writing is fast-paced, the characters are honest and interesting, and it’s just so…British. In the best way possible. I also love that the author, Mary Wesley, published her first novel when she was seventy! And went on to write twelve more! She’s considered one of England’s most successful novelists, with her books selling more than three million copies. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is.
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes was…meh. I was in the mood for a good modern-day romantic comedy, and this book seemed to fit this description, and it kept showing up in my Amazon recommendations, but it just fell short. The characters were flat. There wasn’t a great story development. It was an easy read, but not a great one. I was bored. I wouldn’t recommend.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney was a major departure from Evvie Drake Starts Over, which, if you read my feelings above, is a good thing. This novel was moody and dark, centered around the complications of adultery, mental illness, and the difficulty of finding out who you are in your early twenties. It certainly wasn’t uplifting, but it felt…real. And there’s something about Sally Rooney’s stream-of-consciousness writing style that just pulls me in. Her characters get into your head. I really enjoyed Conversations with Friends, and her other book, Normal People, which I reviewed a few months ago. I would recommend both.
Also, here are book reviews from months past: