ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Article published on March 4, 2016.

I’m not a big fan of those, ‘Think Bridget Jones crossed with Jurassic Park fathered by Winnie the Pooh’ ways of describing a book but every now and then there’s no getting away from it – the publisher gets it blindingly right. “For fans of One Day, A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Versions of Us” trumpets the proof – I haven’t read the middle one but using the other two as triangulation points it’s absolutely spot on.

Four university friends in 1995 set off into the big wide world, carefree and ready to make their fortunes. Benedict ends up at the Cern Collider-thingy, Eva, who doesn’t realise she loves Benedict, becomes a City trader, Lucien, who is God’s gift to women and knows it, shags Eva but doesn’t really want her, and his sister, Sylvie is a talented artist who will be famous in the course of time. Except, with various twists and turns, it doesn’t end up this way – but you knew that already. You also – intuitively – know that there’s a ‘will they, won’t they?’ ending to come as we follow their various fortunes into the noughties and ending in 2015.

This is Alice Adams’ debut and very accomplished it is, too: she’s a Philosophy major, been a City analyst and lives in north London where some of the action takes place. I was surprised to see the jacket displayed above as the proof* was very orange, a colour that worked magnificently for One Day because you could easily see how many people were reading it on the tube.

This is one of those books where the characters are allowed aeons to put forward their position/thoughts/feelings in a way that real people rarely talk but no matter, you are carried along with the flow because you want to know what happens next. And looking back I can’t believe I fell for Eva’s unquenched interest in Benedict. Plus the ending seemed to get unnecessarily sloppy and neatly tied up but then, isn’t that the point of this kind of book?

Enough, I’ll stop being picky and say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would suggest you and many others will find yourself on a beach somewhere this summer turning pages more quickly than you expected.

Guy Pringle
March 2016

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
*Not sure what’s going on here because The Bookseller reported that this book had been bought by Picador, and the proof is from them but the Amazon entry is most definitely Little, Brown hbk June 2016.

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