The Lemon Grove
By Helen Walsh
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385538534, 224pp.)
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
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“Walsh’s pacing is brilliant, her writing a combination of William Trevor and Erica Jong, as she fearlessly explores the complexities and nuances of a woman surprised by her own feelings…. Gripping…..Can mutual peace really coexist with wild chaos? Walsh’s readers will find themselves eagerly turning the pages, racing to find out.”
--The New York Times Book Review
A highly charged, sultry, beautifully written and compulsive one-sit read, The Lemon Grove is an intense novel about obsession and sex—the perfect summer book.
Jenn and Greg have been married for fourteen years, and, as the book opens, they are enjoying the last week of their annual summer holiday in Deia, a village in Majorca off the coast of southern Spain. Their days are languorous, the time passing by in a haze of rioja-soaked lunches, hours at the beach, and lazy afternoon sex in their beautiful villa. It is the perfect summer idyll . . . until Greg's teenage daughter (Jenn's stepdaughter), Emma, arrives with her new boyfriend, Nathan, in tow.
What follows, over the course of seven days, is a brilliantly paced fever dream of attraction between Jenn and the reckless yet mesmerizing Nathan. It is an intense pas de deux of push and pull, risk and consequence . . . and moral rectitude, as it gets harder and harder for Jenn to stifle her compulsion.
This is a very smart novel about many things: the loss of youth, female sexuality, the lure of May/December temptation, the vicissitudes of marriage and the politics of other people's children. It is simultaneously sexy and substantive, and Helen Walsh's masterful, even-handed tone can't help but force the reader to wonder: "What would I have done?"
Beautifully written with the tension of a rubber band just about to snap, The Lemon Grove is a book that will have people talking all summer long.
Helen Walsh was born in Warrington, England, in 1976. Her second novel, Once Upon a Time in England, was the winner of a Somerset Maugham Award. She now lives in Liverpool.
“Walsh’s pacing is brilliant, her writing a combination of William Trevor and Erica Jong, as she fearlessly explores the complexities and nuances of a woman surprised by her own feelings…. gripping tale of a woman stepping beyond conventional boundaries and into the unknown….. Can mutual peace really coexist with wild chaos? Walsh’s readers will find themselves eagerly turning the pages, racing to find out.”
--The New York Times Book Review
“No holiday burns as dangerously hot as Helen Walsh’s THE LEMON GROVE, whose cusp-of-middle-age protagonist falls for her stepdaughter’s boyfriend at a seaside villa in Spain, setting loyalties – and reader’s libidos – ablaze.”
“A sultry, steamy study that pits love against lust during the shimmering heat of a Spanish summer…. Walsh captures the languor and the sybaritic delight of a sun-soaked, idyllic paradise… The Lemon Grove” catalogs the bone-deep changes that affect Jenn, Greg and Emma over the course of a week. Walsh writes with care and authority, pacing her story carefully as the physical attraction between Jenn and Nathan mounts to its inevitable conclusion. Yet there’s more to her story than sex. In the end, “The Lemon Grove” is a stunning meditation on the bonds of marriage and family and the difference between lust and love. It is the best kind of summer reading.”
“It's refreshing to find a writer as fiercely talented as Helen Walsh turning her hand to a richly sensual story of forbidden lust as psychologically substantial as it is sexy….. she builds the sexual tension step by slow step, teasing the reader…. a complex novel about family relationships and growing older…..The Lemon Grove has the potential to be an enormous summer hit. It is taut and lyrical; steamy, tender and full of insight.”
“Fans of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls will love this summer's story of the forbidden fruit, with similar poetic undertones…. a sultry, sexy romp through a sea of simmering resentments, moral dilemmas, and questions about loyalty and forgiveness.”
“Raw, edgy – and sexy”
“Driven by her awareness of the connection between lust and romantic love, natural beauty and artifice, and passion and great….compelling.”
“Edgy, in-your-face….Fading youth, female desire, the pull of temptation, the craziness of marriage, and vivid sex—it’s all here.”
“Walsh’s writing is mesmerizing”
“Warning: Beware of sunburns! This sultry tale of forbidden love is likely to keep you page-turning all afternoon…. Equally tender as it is fierce, Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove explores the fragility of marriage, the overwhelming allure of youth, and the lines we cross when we shed cautious logic, and give in to the magnetic force of obsession and desire. It's a sensual and keenly observant story that makes for the perfect beach companion. You’ll get so wrapped up in it, you might even forget to reapply sunscreen, so set an alarm before you disappear into the seductive, sun-drenched mountains of Majorca housed within its pages.”
“Walsh’s novel, which takes place over the course of just one week, will have people talking about it for a long, long time. It exudes controversy and hushed conversations that almost feel taboo. But readers will admire the author’s slow tug at their hearts as they ponder what is socially acceptable when it comes to love and lust. This tale of tantalizing temptation is impossible to put down, and the unexpected ending will shock you to the core.”
-- Romantic Times
“ Helen Walsh is a talented and serious writer, and “The Lemon Grove” endeavors to explore the dark temptations of forbidden lust and the disappointments of aging.”
“Steamy.... luxuriates in atmosphere…. A hot-and-bothered novel of inverted May-December romance set in Mallorca”
“Walsh’s prose is gorgeous. The beach town setting is the perfect backdrop for this sultry book. ….a deep look at the intricacies of family life, the little (and big) secrets and disappointments that make up the fabric of a family.”
--Romance at Random
“The Lemon Grove pushes the boundaries between older women and younger lovers”—Metro
“A brilliant study of lust and obsession, where desire cancels out caution and restraint. The writing is sensuous and sexy, with a nail-biting sense of trepidation, as things spiral out of control. Unputdownable”
— Marie Claire (UK)
— Daily Telegraph
“Packs a punch.”
-Sam Baker, Harpers Bazaar (UK) Books for 2014
The book of the month could be Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove, about marriage, female desire, and raising other people’s children, set in a villa in Mallorca.’
-The Independent, 2014 book preview (UK)
‘Fraught, highly-charged and very sexy... intelligent ... should be at the top of your summer reading list.’
-Stylist Hot Books for 2014 (UK)
‘A steamy study of transgressive passion’
-The Express, Hot Books for 2014 (UK)
‘The one to read and get you hot and bothered’
-The Sun, Hot Books for 2014(UK)
“A short, intense, sultry novel”
—The Bath Chronicle (UK)
“This year’s Beautiful Ruins”
-Glamour Magazine (UK)
“The Lemon Grove is by turns delicious and shocking, erotic and mournful, heart-stopping, yet languidly, achingly sexy. Helen Walsh deftly explores that perilous place where temptation tips into sexual obsession. And she does so with the kind of writing that leaves you no choice but to consume the book in one sitting. I did.”
-Lisa Gabrielle, author of the INternatioanlly bestselling erotica tilogy S.E.C.R.E.T. writing as L. Marie Adeline
‘This is your next Gone Girl. It’s a sultry, sexy, intense story about the lure of the forbidden, and you won’t know who to trust – a definite page turner.”
“The Lemon Grove is a short, sharp, sexy shock of a book about a woman behaving badly. I think we’ll be hearing a lot about it next year.”
–The Bookseller (UK)
"The Lemon Grove is a slinky, sultry, seductress of a novel that kept me reading long past bedtime. Titillating and tense, poignant and honest, Helen Walsh's tale of forbidden desire satisfies on all levels."
-Lori Lansens, Bestselling author of Rush Home Road and The Girls
"A beautifully written and erotically charged tale of a reckless holiday affair between a married woman and her step-daughter's teenage boyfriend. The Lemon Grove mines the dark territory of illicit desire with prose as sensual and sultry as its Mallorcan setting. Once you've started reading you won't be able to stop."
-Fiona Neill, Bestselling author of What the Nanny Saw
"I cannot imagine a more gripping, sexy summer read; I loved it."
-Jenny Colgan, author of Where Have All the Boys Gone?
“Extraordinarily, electrifyingly good. You will read it and then instantly give it to your best friend to read.”
-Lisa Jewell, Bestselling author of Before I Met You and Ralph’s Party