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Summer’s Idyll

Published Date: August 7, 2018

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Junior, you are a born storyteller! These teacher-written words of praise ring loud in the mind of Don Gutteridge’s book-loving, eleven-year-old male protagonist Billy as he bolts from school on the last day of class. So the novel Summer’s Idyll begins on Thursday, June 29th, 1944 set in a fictional Ontario lakeside town as seen through the eyes of the child of an absent father, a soldier fighting the Nazies somewhere in Europe. This ‘what did you do on your summer vacation’ bildungsroman begins only twenty-three days after the allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, and so the reader knows that each headline, every newspaper story, every scrap of information might bring the terrible black-bannered news of death of someone’s father, someone’s brother, someone’s husband. Set against this backdrop of distant war brought close to home, we experience the childhood adventures of an imaginative narrator rendered in the lyrical prose of a master. Don Gutteridge, in addition to being an award-winning poet, is the author of twenty-two novels including the twelve-volume Marc Edward mystery series. Summer’s Idyll may just be his greatest masterpiece. In the tradition of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Emily of New Moon, Who Has Seen The Wind, we fortunate readers glory in the experiences of a precocious child pondering the big questions of life and death, the mysteries of sex and gender, all while playing and frolicking and being wonderfully alive during that time of great awakening in the cusp between late childhood and early adolescence.

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