July 2019 NYRB Selection

Three Summers - Margarita Liberaki

July 2019 NYRB Selection

On one hand, I love the writing. It is almost like reading prose poetry. It is very naturalistic and transports you to Greece. Beauty fills it. In some ways, the book is a masterpiece of understatement. Liberaki shows not tells, and there are wonderful images that echo in the mind – Infanta racing her horse, the car stopped on the side of the road as passengers cook fish and make coffee, the garden with its different plots, and even the Polish Grandmother.

Yet, I found myself not really caring what happened. Perhaps that is the epitome of a lazy summer day and the book is title Three Summers. And it wasn’t that you were waiting for something to happen because many things happened. It just felt a bit disjointed, rough around the edges.

I found myself thinking A S Byatt’s Still Life when reading this, and this book does seem like a precursor to Byatt’s novel. I kept expecting certain plot points to turn out as the did in Still Life; they didn’t of course. But both books have that same sense of quiet, out of the way, lazy feel about them.

Like a summer day.

The three sisters in the novel where different, though at times the reader isn’t given enough insight to some of the people. The mystery has more to do with the adults and their relationships than with the behavior of the girls. There are connections made between the interior life of the artist, the exterior life of the artist, and the art as well. And art here is a multiple defined word – it includes painting, music, planting, and even riding.

I can’t say this book is a favorite, but it is the type of book you would want to revisit.