“At the Edge of Summer” by Jessica Brockmole is a novel set in 1911 France. It is the story of a fifteen year old girl, Clare Ross, a Scottish lass, who has been left alone since her mother left and her father died. A friend of her mother’s Madame Crepet has brought her to live with her family in the French countryside. Luc is the son of this family and is studying in Paris. He comes home on some weekends to try to make Clare not feel so lonely. Their friendship blossoms until Clare’s grandfather comes to take her with him on his academic travels to exotic lands. Clare and Luc keep in touch by letter until the Great War starts. Clare thinks he has forgotten her, but his letters to her have been lost as have hers to him.
Clare becomes an artist and starts working with a studio that makes facial prostheses for soldiers who have been injured in the war. One day, a young soldier comes to the studio for a consultation. Clare works with him and feels that she must know him. It is Luc, but his appearance has changed so drastically that she does not recognize him until later. What follows is a story of love and forgiveness.
I read another book by Ms. Brockmole, “Letters from Skye”. Her writing style seems to include letters that tell the story of the book. I found that in her writing, the characters are let much of themselves come forth in their letters. I did not see this same interaction between them when they met face to face. This way of telling her story is interesting because the reader feels that he is actually seeing what the letter writer is feeling.
The acclaimed author of Letters from Skye returns with an extraordinary story of a friendship born of proximity but boundless in the face of separation and war.
Luc Crépet is accustomed to his mother’s bringing wounded creatures to their idyllic château in the French countryside, where healing comes naturally amid the lush wildflowers and crumbling stone walls. Yet his maman’s newest project is the most surprising: a fifteen-year-old Scottish girl grieving over her parents’ fate. A curious child with an artistic soul, Clare Ross finds solace in her connection to Luc, and she in turn inspires him in ways he never thought possible. Then, just as suddenly as Clare arrives, she is gone, whisked away by her grandfather to the farthest reaches of the globe. Devastated by her departure, Luc begins to write letters to Clare—and, even as she moves from Portugal to Africa and beyond, the memory of the summer they shared keeps her grounded.
Years later, in the wake of World War I, Clare, now an artist, returns to France to help create facial prostheses for wounded soldiers. One of the wary veterans who comes to the studio seems familiar, and as his mask takes shape beneath her fingers, she recognizes Luc. But is this soldier, made bitter by battle and betrayal, the same boy who once wrote her wistful letters from Paris? After war and so many years apart, can Clare and Luc recapture how they felt at the edge of that long-ago summer?
Bringing to life two unforgettable characters and the rich historical period they inhabit, Jessica Brockmole shows how love and forgiveness can redeem us.