Review: The Lemon Grove- Helen Walsh
We all need some sun in our lives. I mean this is what I woke up to this morning.
Heavy rain, black clouds, thunder and lightning every two minutes.
Maybe if you’re a reader who lives in Spain you’re good to go. But for a girl from England where the weather isn’t fantastic about 99% of the time, I need as much sun as I can get.
Even if it is fictional because I can’t afford a holiday this year.
So first off, what I liked most about The Lemon Grove was its lush, vibrant setting in Mallorca. It was almost hallucinogenic in its evocation of tall, slanting palm trees, sandy beaches, clear blue waters and sparkling cocktails in the sun.
And this is where English couple Jenn and Greg holiday every year, in their private villa on the quiet resort of Deia. The novel focuses on Jenn, who is beginning to feel bored and unsatisfied with her life now that she believes her best years are behind her. Put her on holiday with her husband, throw in her step daughter (who she is increasingly feeling distanced from) along with her (very) attractive 17 year old boyfriend, and the stage is set for an interesting plot of sex, desire and longing that disrupts and distorts the family dynamics.
It’s an easy summer read, a guilty pleasure almost that keeps you turning the pages and wanting to read it all in one go. And it’s easily done- I read it in one day, I was completely hooked.
But its so much more than a quick summer read by the pool. Walsh explores the characters and their complex relationships with considerable depth. Jenn is not the typical middle aged woman who simply has a summer affair with a male half her age. She is flawed. You can relate to her- she is human. She battles with her attraction towards Nathan while simultaneously struggling to understand the dissatisfaction with her own life, and her conflicting emotions toward her husband. She grapples with the constant feeling of love and resentment towards Emma, whose complex relationship with Jenn was particularly convincing and very well written. You feel you know everything about Jenn but at the same time, you don’t. She’s a complicated character and felt extremely real, who stayed with me after I finished reading the book.
The Lemon Grove pulls you along a cliff edge throughout the entire book, with unexpected plot twists and a heavily sexual narrative. The sex scenes are short but explicit, and coupled with Nathan’s age and Jenn’s double betrayal towards her husband and step-daughter makes the scenes even more uncomfortable. And always you read along thinking, surely she is going to get caught by Greg or Emma at some point? How long can she keep this up for?
Walsh’s unflinching prose and taboo confrontation is not a book for the faint hearted. The writing is exciting and is far more than an erotic novel or summer read. The uncontrollable lust and repulsion, the obsession, the self-loathing, the act of falling into the unknown and the undercurrent of danger and seediness about it all.
Not usually something I would read, but Walsh’s The Lemon Grove is a fantastic read that keeps you guessing all the way to the end- and even then we are left to make our decision as to how it all panned out for Jenn.
Do I recommend you to read it? Yes, especially great to read by the pool
Genre: erotic/ summer read