Sometimes a book can provide a perfect reading experience, a confluence of literary merit and also the receptivity of the reader. Godwin’s book was a perfect read for me. Marcus, an 11 year-old boy, has to live with his Great Aunt after the accidental death of his mother. His Great Aunt is a stranger, a painter who lives on a beach in South Carolina. Given the circumstances and his inherent inclinations, Marcus is wildly self-absorbed and introspective despite his young age. His journey through the summer, largely left to his own devices, is remarkable, both compelling and profound. This is a great read, see also Godwin’s previous book Flora.
A 10-year-old (Helen) and a 22-year-old (Flora, a cousin of Helen’s dead mother), spend part of the summer of 1945 together. Helen’s father is working at Oak Ridge on bomb development so Flora is a companion/chaperone. Helen is a precocious, petulant, self-absorbed and incredibly manipulative kid, so interesting character and the ending to the book is a surprise.