Hibiscus Summers by Pat Crichton captures Montserrat in the summer of 1974 and 2014.
‘This is Runaway Ghaut,’ he said. ‘If you drink from the water here, it is said that you are meant to come back to Montserrat in the future. I thought we should try.’
In 1974, the summer before she starts art school, Aberdeen teenager Annie Fraser wins a scholarship to paint in the lush, verdant landscape of Montserrat. Determined to express herself and surrender to new experiences, her friendship with Wallace Browne – a young Londoner visiting his Montserratian family – begins to blossom into something more.
Then in 2014 still reeling from the sudden death of her husband, retired teacher Annie Davidson returns to Montserrat, resolved to rediscover her love of art and reconnect with life. She finds the island greatly changed by a devastating volcanic eruption, but its people as vibrant and welcoming as they once were. When a face from Annie’s past reappears, she finds something else worth rediscovering.
Hibiscus Summers paints a wonderful picture of Montserrat past and reflects much of the angst and energy of the summer of 2014, when the island was ablaze with election colours. Crichton draws on much of the talk and perceptions of that season to create the frustrations which fuel Browne’s entry into politics.
It compassionately takes a journey into Richmond Hill and the other areas now uninhabited to honour the memories of those lost and lives that were irreparably changed by the eruptions of Soufriere Hills.
It was an easy and enjoyable read but clearly reflects the views of a part of the community which loves the island but can’t understand why some things are not further along under local rule and with British assistance.
Hibiscus Summers is a moving and often funny novel about family, friendship and living life to its fullest.
Available to purchase in print and kindle on Amazon.com .