Invincible Summer by Alice Adams – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien graduate in 1998, into a world on the brink of the new millennium.

Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and keen to shrug off the socialist politics of her childhood, Eva breaks away to work at a big bank.

Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to do a physics PhD, and siblings Sylvie and Lucien pursue more freewheeling existences–she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partier.

But as their dizzying twenties become their thirties, the once close-knit friends, now scattered and struggling to navigate thwarted dreams, lost jobs and broken hearts, find themselves drawn together once again in stunning and unexpected ways.

My Review

“… off down the hill they went, turning back to wave but still heading inexorably away from library days and party nights and mornings-after and endless afternoons spent huddled together laughing and clutching steaming cups of terrible coffee and everything else that had formed the fabric of their old lives together and which had seen it on the long as if it would never end but was now, suddenly and irrevocably, over.”

In the summer of 2016 I had been in a terrible book slump. Reading to me can be very emotional. I tend to get heavily invested in the characters of whatever I’m reading and I lose myself among the pages. So finding something to read that summer had been very difficult.

Until I came across Invincible Summer in my local library. And title alone was enough to seduce me.

Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi u été invincible 

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible summer. 

Albert Camus, Retour à Tipasa

I love that quote. I’m not one for using quotes and sentiments as wall art in my home but I have made an exception for a translation of that quote. It means a great deal to me. 

Invincible Summer is a story of a group of four college friends and what happens to them over the course of twenty years or so. In a similar vein to David Nicholls’ One Day we as readers flit in and out of their lives every summer and find out what exactly happens to them and their friendships after the responsibility-free days of university. It’s almost a coming of age story for those of us in our thirties!

  • Is it the most original story ever?
  • The best written?

Eh probably not!

It was at times predictable, the ending was weak, the characters’ personalities were a little identikit…

But there was something about it that I loved. I guess I identified with these identikit characters. There was part of me in all of them. Because when I read it in 2016 I was right there with those characters in my own life because I was trying to figure out my stuff while supposedly being a grown up. When I was younger I remember thinking that by the time I reached my mid thirties I’d have my life all figured out…

Well I definitely didn’t have everything sorted in 2016 (still don’t in 2021!) but books like Invincible Summer help to make me feel better about myself.

They remind me that no one is perfect.

That no one has got everything figured out.

The characters were flawed; they had highs and they had lows. They did incredibly not smart things, and then they did even more not smart things! ….And there I was metaphorically high-fiving because I’ve done (some of) those things too!!

I guess what I’m really saying about this book is that it came at the right time in my life. There were no greatly memorable characters or stand out occurrences.

But what I can remember is the feeling I got while reading this book. I felt connected. Connected to life, to people, to something more.

And sometimes that’s all we want from a story.

“If there’s one thing that I’ve realised…, it’s that friendship and love are pretty much all we’ve got that’s worth anything. Everything else is noise.”

5 thoughts on “Invincible Summer by Alice Adams – Book Review

  1. Great review Éimhear! I laughed out loud when I read having your life figured out by your mid thirties. I’m not there yet, but I already know that in my mid-twenties I know in 10 years I won’t have life figured out. It’s such a strange concept to have your life sorted out at any age. Anywho’s this sounds like a fun read!

    Liked by 1 person

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