Thursday, 27 July 2017

See You in September by Charity Norman

"It doesn't look like a scene of death.  It looks like paradise."

So says Diana in the prologue to See You in September, while visiting the site of a cult her daughter Cassy had belonged to.

In See You in September twenty-one year old Cassy goes on a backpacking holiday to New Zealand with her boyfriend, and becomes entangled in a cult.

When Cassy discovers she is pregnant, then breaks up with her boyfriend while hitching a ride to Taupo she is rescued by a van of irresistibly shiny happy people. They persuade her to detour to their remote and beautiful self-sufficient farm on the shores of Lake Tarawera.

Cassy is treated warmly and soon becomes part of the extended 'family'. She begins an idyllic relationship with kind and competent Aden; whose wife walked out on him with two of their children, leaving one behind. Justin, the enigmatic leader of the group lives on an island on the lake and is loved by all.
However, lack of reliable cell phone coverage and internet lead to frantic worry for her parents at home in England.

Cleverly and terrifyingly woven through the story are excerpts from a scholars study on The Cult Leader’s Manual: Eight Steps to Mind Control.
What could possibly go wrong…?

Author Charity Norman is well-known to Hawke's Bay readers. She is a lively and generous speaker, an ex-barrister who was born to missionary parents in Uganda, grew up in England, and married a Hawke's Bay man. Norman always explores an interesting and different theme for each of her novels. For her previous novel The Secret Life of Luke Livingston her main character was a transgender person; other novels have focused on adoption, ex-convicts, and methamphetamine use in teenagers.
Reviewers have likened her to Jodi Picoult and Joanna Trollope. I would agree to some extent but must say I enjoy Norman’s books more. She has moved into the realm of my ‘safe bet’ authors; one of those favourites for whom you look forward to new releases from and know you will enjoy reading them.
She has also released an ebook short story called Best Served Cold, about Cassy’s younger sister Tara, which is available at Hastings District Libraries eBook platform ePukapuka.

Reviewed by Katrina
Catalogue link: See You in September

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