Jane Ridley

Dancing on a Volcano

The Perfect Summer

By

John Murray 276pp £25 order from our bookshop

Juliet Nicolson was inspired to write The Perfect Summer while reading L P Hartley’s The Go-Between during the hot summer of 2003, which made her wonder whether it would be possible to convey ‘the vivid richness of how it smelt, looked, sounded, tasted and felt’ to be alive in such a summer. Edwardian England is often portrayed as one long summer’s afternoon, and this book is a biography of the summer of 1911, the hottest of them all. The London Season that year was more frenetic than ever. ‘It was such fun,’ gushed the socialite Mrs Hwfa Williams in her memoirs. But while the rich partied, the East End poor broiled in stinking slums and striking dockers brought the economy to a standstill. The sweltering summer was like an overripe fruit, a metaphor for the belle époque, the world that was about to end in the Armageddon of the First World War. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,
    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,
    • RT : I regularly make purchases based on - it’s excellent.,
    • RT : I wrote about Yoko Ogawa's dreamlike, allegorical novel The Memory Police, newly published in English in a translat… ,
    • 'At this frankly apocalyptic moment for indigenous rights in Brazil, John Hemming’s "People of the Rainforest" is a… ,
    • 'I was dumbfounded by the view of the Berlin Wall from the eastern side. It seemed inconceivable that in under thre… ,
    • RT : Danger for ‘local’ staff, access in exchange for silence (and logos) - all sounds familiar in this fascinating look… ,