- We are a mother and daughter blog team, fellow bibliophiles, and avid readers. We write about/review books that we read for pleasure. Frances ~ I love novels, and I read a wide variety of genres. I read the classics, Southern Lit, historical fiction, sagas, and contemporary fiction. Rose ~ I am a lover of everything from fiction to non-fiction, classics to fantasy. Many of the books/series I read are historical fiction, modern classics, and mysteries. I also enjoy world literature, especially from India and Scandinavia.
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Friday, June 17, 2011 at 10:12 PM | By: GirlsWannaRead
The novel is the reminiscence of Leo Colston who looks back on his childhood and the events of the summer of 1900. The discovery of a battered red collar box containing mementos and a diary from the fateful summer prompt the telling of the story.
Leo spends the summer of his thirteenth birthday in Norfolk at Brandham Hall, the home of school friend Marcus Maudsley. Leo is from a lower class than the Maudsleys and is out of place. The family attempts to make him feel at home, and Marian, Marcus's older sister, takes him to a nearby town to buy him clothes suitable for the heat of summer. Leo's mother had been unable to afford new summer clothes for him, and he had suffered through the heat.
The excessive heat of the summer is a continuing theme, and Leo becomes obsessed with it, constantly checking the temperature on the outdoor thermometer. Leo' situation heats up when Marcus falls ill and Leo is left on his own. He is soon recruited as a go-between, carrying messages between Marian and a local farmer, Ted Burgess. Leo is unaware of the nature of their relationship and the contents of the letters he carries. He relishes the errands because he believes they elevate him to a position of importance.
With the arrival of Viscount Hugh Trimingham, who's family formerly lived in Brandham Hall, Leo learns that Marian is meant to marry the Viscount. As he becomes more and more aware of the relationship between Marian and Ted Burgess, Leo begins to balk at his duties as "the postman." He is torn because he is fond of all three, Marian especially.
Ultimately, Leo's role as the messenger has disastrous consequences. The events have a traumatic and long-lasting effect on Leo. He becomes an emotionally detached adult and is never able to develop intimate relationships. The story has an additional twist. As the elderly Leo looks back on the events of that summer, he becomes curious and returns to Norfolk to confront the elderly Marian. She persuades him to act as the go-between one final time.
This is a romantic, nostalgic novel. It explores the themes of childhood innocence and its loss, family, class, and gender distinctions.
A film version was released in 1971 starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates. It is an excellent adaptation and remains faithful to the novel.