A bold and gripping literary debut about three very different sisters who return to their family home to face imminent tragedy and their tumultuous pasts.
Summoned to their magnificent family home on the shores of Lake Ontario--a paradisiacal mansion perched on an escarpment above the city--three adult sisters, George, Jax, and Pippa, come together in what seems like an act of family solidarity. Pregnant and unwell, the youngest, Pippa, has left her husband and four young children in New Zealand and returned home to heal. But home to this family means secrets, desire, and vengeance--and feasting on the sexual appetites and weaknesses of others. Each daughter has her own particular taste: George enjoys risk; Jax, memory; and Pippa, cool calculation. And overlaying everything are their parents, with unquenchable desires and cravings of their own.
As the affluent family endures four intense days in one another's company, old fissures reappear. When long-buried truths finally come to light, the sisters and their parents must face the unthinkable consequences of their actions.
Summer Cannibals is a riveting, psychological story of lust, betrayal, and family from a dazzling new voice in Canadian fiction.
Paperback, 288 pages
Expected publication: August 21st 2018 by Penguin Books Canada
Loco; locoed; locoing; locos – definition: verb: to make frenzied or crazy
Tracing back to royalties and referred to as ‘handsome’ because they resonated good breeding, the family of David and Margaret Blackford will meet at the family home on the shores of Lake Ontario for a little R&R.
This home happens to be a mansion with lush gardens that can be toured by tourists at times as well as on special occasions, such as Easter. David is the avid gardener in the family and Margaret the underappreciated wife. As their adult daughters George, Jax and Pippa arrive (all of them named boy names in hopes of having one) for a few days, chaos and character clashes ensue, yet family is family.
“They knew that once the rancor reached the point it would no longer be contained by a veneer of civility, it would explode and take their parents on that familiar track of violence to acceptance that their marriage was built on – and which they both seemed to need, because the blow-ups always signaled a return to tenderness”
- Melanie Hobson
After the girls have arrived, Margaret notices a couple making out behind some bushes in the garden and alerts her husband about it. But unlike my idea of where this is going, David is fascinated by the girls beautiful boobs and her submissive behavior, that instead of chasing them off, he decides he has to get this perfect girl as he “recognizes the desire to dominate” (Middle aged father of 4 daughters, mind you!)….if he can catch her! As Margaret discovers David’s intentions to still his desire, he actually silently thanks his wife for setting him up.
(That’s messed up!)
“His wife - her vulgarity laid bare. She wanted it just as badly as him, and instead of draining the excitement from his conquest it had made it even more pleasurable.”
Then there are the daughters, all different as they could be. The most normal one might be George, a history professor. She has the best relationship with her father it seems, and catches on to tensions rather quickly. Jax was always the fun loving one…the careless one. Always had good times at parties and with guys. And Pippa is about to give birth to her 5th child. She had traveled the farthest from New Zealand to get away from her irresponsible husband.
Each of the characters has their own baggage and problems. In pursuit to self-regulate or find peace, they are following their instincts, well in nostalgia or retaliate. But what will happen in those four days? Anything life changing? Or will it be: ‘What happens at the mansion, stays at the mansion? And then there is this “fun” girl around! What is up with that?
I will admit that I may not have read this description part of the book as careful as I should have: “-and feasting on the sexual appetites and weaknesses of others”! I was a little surprised at some of the ‘appetites’ going down and so the title of the book now has a whole new meaning!
The cover is gorgeous, but the writing left me a little disconnected in parts. Transitions aren’t as smooth as I’d like to read it, and I found myself rereading parts not knowing if it was still the same character thinking or speaking. There wasn’t a real crescendo or fall, but you are thrown right into all the mingling. The whole purpose of the characters meeting isn’t really clear to me either. Perhaps a dysfunctional family stays dysfunctional, and any hope of mine that adults rationalize differently as they get older is an illusion!?
It is difficult to rate this book because it is very different. It isn’t exactly sexy either but the messed up thought patterns are quite entertaining. Now it isn’t a long book, so perhaps you should give it a try. It is definitely different and not a literary challenge.
I received a digital copy of this ARC in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you.