Summer of Reckoning

Summer of Reckoning is a thriller set in the hothouse of the Luberon region in the south of France, as poverty, racism and boredom boil over into terrible violence. Marion Brunet's first book to be translated into English from the French is almost cruelly efficient, hurtling the reader toward inevitable tragedy in little more than 200 pages. Brunet's novel is overheated and psychologically complex, filled with the kinds of intense, conflicting personalities that wouldn't be out of place in a Tennessee Williams play.

A complicated sequence of events is set into motion when 16-year-old Céline becomes pregnant and refuses to name the father. Céline's father, Manuel, retreats into alcoholism and a festering rage born of his own insecurities. Meanwhile, Céline's younger sister, Jo, carries on a risky, intermittent relationship with Saïd, a childhood friend of the sisters from an Arab family, and experiments with entering the world of the upper-crust through a wealthy friend. Brunet delights in lighting multiple fuses, leaving readers to anticipate an explosion at any moment, from any direction. When it comes, it is exceptionally grim, a hateful act brutally reinforcing the book's themes of wealth inequality, bigotry and pointless aggression.

Summer of Reckoning is a remarkably sensual novel: when Jo comes up for air after pretending to drown, she feels "her blood pulsating violently in her body as though it's about to split her veins." The novel features people on the edge--Brunet's style is suitably, wonderfully lurid. --Hank Stephenson, manuscript reader, the Sun magazine

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