Alex had never met a girl like her. Loads of girls giggled, then stared, or were loud and horsey, or perfectly cool like plum, but she, Sass, seemed to have a way of knocking him off -balance, then making him feel … good about it. If he took her fishing, he might end up happy just rowing in circles. So natural, he could almost believe she didn’t recognise him. How was that possible, given who he was?
Alex runs home to Cornwall – his parents’ divorce has hit the tabloids, and his Grandmother’s Cornish estate is the only place Alex feels able to hide. There he meets Sass.
Sass’s mother was killed in a car crash. Sass has moved from her native Brooklyn, to live with the uncle she never knew. Like Alex, she heads outdoors to take refuge from her feelings. The young couple bond over shared admiration of the silver mare, Bo.
Initially wary, Alex allows his feelings for Sass to develop. She is not the kind of girl his family would like him to marry, but the eyes of the world are on Alex, waiting for a juicy love story. At least … the eyes of the gossip columnists, who know how to exploit a young person’s feelings to get the story they are after ….
Will Sass ever stand a chance with Alex, or can their relationship only ever be confined to one silver summer?
It is difficult to talk about One Silver Summer in any depth without a spoiler. Not a major spoiler; there is something about Alex we learn a fifth of the way into the narrative. He is Prince of England. I guessed – the story is not about William or Harry, but the theme of press intrusion reminded me of things they have spoken out about. The storyline about Alex’s parents, too, is deliciously Di and Charles, right down to the Queen sloping off to Balmoral. Personally, I find the story more interesting in light of its real-life influences. The portrayal of Alex’s mother, Seraphina, is particularly interesting if she is a counterpart to Princess Diana. Seraphina – and don’t you love the name? An angel? – is superficially delicate, but knows how to work the press to her advantage. If she is a counterpart to Princess Diana, Seraphina challenges the angelic image popularised after Diana’s death.
The discussion of press intrusion is long overdue in YA, particularly when such major findings have been made. Again, it is the real-life aspect which works for me – how might it have been become ‘fair game’ to the tabloids at the age of 16? Why might a Prince like Alex prefer a girl with windswept hair to a Lady on the upper-class social circuit?
The most interesting character is Alex’s maternal Grandmother Helena. While the rest of his family are either busy with their own lives, or constructing an image for him to present to society, Helena wants what is best for him. She weighs up her ill-fated wartime romance alongside the reality of popular opinion, neither prejudiced towards Sass nor oblivious to the attention such a relationship might attract.
The story is told from multiple perspectives. I might enjoy this if it were limited to Alex and Sass, but there are times when character-development is delayed due to the deluge of voices. Upper-class opportunist Plum Benoist narrates, as does gossip columnist Cressida Slater, and stable girl Amy. And Helena, and Uncle David … The effect of this is none of these characters develop very much, and some storylines are left unresolved. Uncle David makes a major revelation at the end of the book, but we never see Sass’s reaction. As dramatic irony, I would like it earlier in the book. Otherwise, why not show the conversation between Sass and David? Why are we left only with David’s musings?
Worth a read for the portrayal of press intrusion. As a romance, I would have liked more space for the main characters to develop.
Old Barn Books
Page Count: 263
I received my copy from Old Barn Books, as a result of a Goodreads giveaway. This does not affect the honesty of my review.