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One dreamy summer, in a holiday home by the sea, two families fill hot days with food and wine, swimming and games, plans for a wedding and plans for the future.
Enter the Godden brothers – irresistible, languid Kit, and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in paradise – but which brother is it? And is it love he promises, or something very much darker?
The Great Godden chronicles a family’s summer holiday at the beach and how the comfortable family dynamic shifts when two brothers, Kit and Hugo Godden, come to stay with them. The narrator, as with the whole family, is enthralled by Kit – the elder Godden – but, as the narrative unfolds, you find that everything is not as it seems….
Straight off the bat (no pun intended, you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it!), the narrative felt captivating and familiar. Almost instantly, I was placed into a family dynamic that was awkward and endearing in equal measures. Through the lens of the narrator, we meet a variety of characters: bat obsessed Alex, horse obsessed Tamsin and boy obsessed Mattie, as well as Hope and Malcolm and – of course – the Godden brothers, Kit and Hugo.
This family isn’t your typical family, there’s not many heart to hearts and nobody really talks to each other much but – in a funny way – you can still tell there’s love there. It didn’t bother me as much as I thought that the family weren’t close because – really – my attention was on the two mysterious brothers who emerged and interrupted the family dynamic.
We have two brothers that couldn’t be more different – which has been done multiple times, that’s for sure – but (as I read on) I couldn’t help but become captivated by the two of them. Hugo is intense and moody, whilst Kit is brooding and charming. I was incredibly annoyed by them at times but I was also a little bit in love with them, too. My opinion of them shifted and changed with the narrator and – in the end – what I thought at the start was completely turned on its head.
Rosoff’s narrative is impossible to resist. The places feel familiar, the characters are developed, and I loved how the narrative flowed like summer does: it feels like it’s never ending but – abruptly – everything just calms.
The narrator of The Great Godden was ambiguous, to say the least. They are unnamed, they don’t disclose their gender and we never learn their name. This narrator took me back to my school and university days, groaning at lessons and lectures about “unreliable narrators”. The lack of a face or name for the narrator made it harder for me to connect with them but, thankfully, it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story as much as I thought.
The Great Godden was an irresistible summer read, full of sibling rivalry, secrets and a serpent in the midst. My only wish for this book was a more satisfying ending, it definitely could’ve ended a lot worse but I didn’t really feel like this book had the ending I imagined or wanted.
Again, I just want to thank NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the ARC.
The Great Godden will be published on 9th July, 2020