The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin-Gee
This is a beautifully written novel that captures one summer of youthful adventure, friendship and love on Sark, a tiny Channel Island – and the aftermath of this pivotal time for three key characters. A sensual, golden time, this talented debut author has written a novel that is simply irresistible.
Jude is twenty-one when she flies in a private plane to carless Sarks to tutor a local rich boy, Pip. But because of her name the family isn’t expecting a female tutor – and she certainly isn’t expecting the family she will be working for. Esme, the mother, appears to be ill and spends most of her time in bed. Eddy, the father, she finds intimidating. And Pip, is awkward and adamant that he doesn’t need a tutor. Things are undeniably tense. But then Jude meets Sofi, the family’s cook for the holiday – a magnetic, messy Polish girl who isn’t keen on keeping to the rules – and when Eddy goes away on a business trip, summer really begins. Literature lessons fall by the wayside as the three enjoy the lazy summer, spending their times outdoors, scallop-smuggling, swimming and exploring. The three of them grow unexpectedly close, but summer can’t last forever. Later on, with their separate lives in Paris, Normandy and London, they look back on a moment in time when everything changed.
This is a superb novel. It reminded me a little of the movies Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight – just in terms of the slow, languid beauty – and the unhurried reveal of characters and relationships.