Set in the heady natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside, Seven Days One Summer is Kate Morris’s third novel. In here you will meet eight people linked together by a mutual friend, who has invited them to all spend a week at his family villa. As you probably have experienced yourself, relationship woes will follow you no matter what your surroundings. So too with this group of people.
Linked as they are by their mutual friend, the initial day or so is spent in getting to know each other. But gradually the cracks show – within each couple and between them. And just who is the mysterious Jill, who acts as a housekeeper but can’t cook nor clean, and seems instead to be intensely needy, insinuating herself into the group dynamic. It has the feel of an Agatha Christie novel, and I felt myself waiting for the each turn of the page to reveal some kind of dastardly crime, probably involving the missing host, that had to be solved by the resident sleuth.
At risk of spoiling the novel for you, while there is a near-tragedy, there are in fact no grand crime scenes nor detective posturing. There are just the normal frictions encountered when you plonk 8 people in a holiday villa together with nothing in common except the absent friend. And then the day the host turns up everyone turns to him like flowers to the sun, only to find that their dysfunction is not in fact solved by his presence.
While this is written as a novel, once I got past the Agatha Christie tendencies, it felt more like a combination of marriage guidance, therapy session, and voyeuristic reality TV show. And for a novel, that is a lot of things to pull together. Kate Morris has done a convincing job of it, but I still felt that as a novel, it made a pretty good relationship guide.
Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$19.99