ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Us by Fiona Collins

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Us by Fiona Collins is published by Lake Union and available now in paperback, ebook and audiobook. I purchased my own copy.

Four decades. Four seasons. Four chance encounters with the same man.

Spring 1986, Oxford. Rachel has landed on her feet: engaged to handsome author Jonny, soon to be stepmother to his young daughter Teddy, and with a dream to open her own art gallery. It’s everything she wished for during her unsettled childhood. So when she meets candid and carefree American artist Gabe at a party and feels a familiar spark, she knows she needs to resist.

But as her perfect life moves forward, Gabe is never far away, and there’s no denying the lure of the spontaneous, wildly adventurous existence he seems to offer. His is a world of endless possibilities―ones Rachel can’t let herself be tempted by if she’s ever to stay the safe course with Jonny. But how can she focus on the life she thought she wanted when she can’t help imagining the alternative?

One thing’s for certain: Gabe is more than a minor character in Rachel’s life. And as their paths intersect over seasons and decades, each meeting presents Rachel with a choice that could alter everything, and she has to wonder whether the life story she once fought for is the version she’s meant to be living…

A few years ago I read You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins and I was simply blown away by it. In fact, it’s one of my favourite books ever. One of the tropes I most enjoy is forbidden love and that book had it and so does Spring, Summer, Autumn, Us, Collins’ latest book.

The book begins in spring 1986 when Rachel is engaged to a budding author, Jonny. The relationship offers her the stability she badly needs after a volatile childhood but when she meets Gabe, an American artist, she finds herself on rocky ground as she knows the attraction between them is dangerous to all that she considers important. Over the course of four decades the pair meet four times in each of the four seasons, Rachel clinging to her relationship with Jonny but each time unable to deny the strength of her feelings for Gabe.

This book is absolutely beautifully written and I savoured every word. Each period of time is so evocative, particularly the 1980s which felt so recognisable. The characterisations are perfect, from the main players down to the bit-part characters, such as the people from the village where Rachel spends her life. The settings are so vivid and I was carried along, thoroughly immersed in the story which is told completely from Rachel’s viewpoint. The reader is torn, just as Rachel is, between her good life with Jonny and what may just be the love of a lifetime with Gabe, and throughout the story I didn’t know how it could all be resolved.

There’s a gorgeous thread running through the book of the four seasons and all that they bring with them, each one described in such a vibrant way. I travelled through each season and each decade with the characters I grew to love, witnessing the pull of a forbidden passion.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Us is a sweeping and utterly compelling book. I smiled and laughed, and I felt a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Fiona Collins really gets to the heart of emotions and the tangle of day to day life. I thought it was absolutely wonderful in every way.

Fiona Collins grew up in an Essex village and after stints in Hong Kong and London returned to the Essex countryside where she lives with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Film and Literature and has had many former careers including TV presenting in Hong Kong, traffic and weather presenter for BBC local radio and as a film and TV extra.

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