The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh Book Review


I have a love/hate relationship with this book, I liked the premise it has/had potential but it irked me. The topic is slightly taboo, an older woman having an affair with her step-daughters 17-year-old boyfriend, swap the genders around and there would be uproar.

Walsh isn’t forgiving in portrayal of her characters, she makes no excuses for their flaws and doesn’t try to make them likeable in fact I hate all of the characters they annoyed and irritated me to know end. This is one of the main reasons this book redeemed itself for me, as I wasn’t all that taken by it to be honest with you, but the writing was good and I appreciated that as a reader.

Jenn is the main character she is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, trying to wade through the tedium of her life, with her husband, the relationship with her step daughter and her wavering youth. She’s unsatisfied with her life and had misguided expectations of romance, her affair with Nathan isn’t based of rationality, its unforgiving and makes her see herself in a new light.

Emma is only 15 but she seems to be written older than her years, she is the character I hate the most, she is beyond irritating, whiny and I am fully aware that she is getting older and wants to explore her sexuality and the feeling of desirability now she is developing as woman but that doesn’t make her any less of a pain. Her father is an elitist, self-absorbed academic and his only role in the story is to emphasise the complete contrast he is to Nathan.

Ahhh Nathan, stereotypical hipster music blogger. Nathan is the intruder, the catalyst of the events of the story. He is the enigma, the thing that neither of the women can truly possess. He is arrogant and manipulative, his pursuit of Jenn is unrelenting and quite frankly is neither romantic or nice to read about it makes you uncomfortable. I suppose that is the point the characters aren’t loveable, or redeemable.

The ending definitely makes up for a lot, its simplicity of the idea that you are aware of the chaos that is going to happen. It’s never going to be one of my favourite novels, but it was an enjoyable read if only for the writing, the story is good and I liked that it was not cliché Fifty Shades of Grey erotic scenes, there was nothing romanticised about the affair which I appreciated as it shouldn’t have been. It was refreshing to most contemporary novels I have read and for that reason alone I would suggest it.

Verdict: 3/5


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