Book review - One Lost Summer by Richard Godwin
I’ve read a small number of novels which have been worth reading for the prose style alone, without taking into account the merits of the plot, characters, themes, etc. These include ‘Pale Fire’, ‘It Happened in Boston?’, and ‘Days Without End’.
To this small and exclusive list I've recently added ‘One Lost Summer’ by Richard Godwin.
His prose style – and I’m not by any means the first reviewer to make this observation – is poetic. If all you’ve read of Godwin’s work is ‘Savage Highway’, then you may think he writes only in a laconic manner, reminiscent of Lee Child. It turns out he has many more gears than that.
The book is a fine example of the art and craft of writing a novel in this and in every other way you can think of.
In the opening pages, the main character, Rex Allen, makes a number of enigmatic statements, e.g.:
“I stared at the name on my credit card”.
The motive for these reflections doesn’t become clear until much later in the story – but they are most intriguing, and quickly build up an atmosphere of mystery and suspense.
Allen, who has just moved house at the beginning of the tale, meets his new next door neighbour, and his behaviour gets really odd. But it turns out, against the odds, that there’s a very logical reason for it. As a reader, you feel you want to know why he’s doing what he does – and the reveal does not disappoint.
If you’ve read Godwin’s other work, you may be expecting gore and a high body count. But this is a different kind of work altogether: a subtle reflection on the nature of identity.
On the basis of this book alone, Richard Godwin should be a household name. It is probably to the shame of the modern publishing industry that he isn’t.
You can buy the book here: