‘An Afternoon in Summer: My Year on a South Sea Island, Doing Nothing, Gaining Everything & Finally Falling in Love’ is Kathy Giuffre’s memoir that recounts her twelve-month-long sojourn in the Cook Islands.
Kathy, a single mother of two young boys, decides to spend her sabbatical year researching indigenous art of Rarotonga. As her new boyfriend agrees to join her, she happily books a trip for four, hoping to spend a wonderful time with her loved ones. However, things start to get complicated when Gregg suddenly announces he isn’t coming.
Left alone with her sons, Kathy arrives in the Cooks only to find out that her landlord has vanished and she has no place to stay. Despite her miserable situation, she chooses not to come back to the US. She meets Emily, an 82-year-old Maori woman with a house by the ocean, who offers her a room.
As time goes by, Kathy and her sons discover the wonders of the islands. They make friends with local people and start slowly feeling at home. What is more, Kathy reconnects with her old love.
A travelogue-cum-memoir written by a woman? That’s a rare thing to find. Even today, travel writing is still considered a male domain. It’s a real pity actually, because ladies do know how to turn an interesting journey into a gripping narrative. You don’t believe me? Just read Kathy Giuffre’s book.
Of course, this title won’t take you on an exciting adventure to the tropics. No. It is something more subtle, more feminine. It’s a beautifully drafted tale of love, spiked with innermost feelings and emotions. The author doesn’t simply describe her experiences – she reveals how the sojourn changed her and what it brought into her life. Reviving fond memories and reminiscing about the past, she recounts finding her true soulmate and meeting people who became not just her friends, but her little family. And she does it in a candid, straightforward way that is very appealing. With this book Kathy Giuffre invites you to her world. Let me assure you that you won’t regret accepting the invitation.
The story itself is highly entertaining. Wonderful depictions capture imagination, evoking images of a tropical paradise – a blissful land of tranquil delights, where good vibrations fill the air, sorrows sink beneath the waves, and everyone beams with sheer happiness. The serene ambience of the book definitely reflects the unique atmosphere of the South Seas. From the very first page you are ‘surrounded’ by a magical aura that doesn’t disappear with the last word; it lingers on for a very long time.
‘An Afternoon in Summer’ is less a travelogue and more a memoir, which means that the Pacific country is not its prime focus. Nonetheless, the author made sure to include a few interesting facts about Rarotonga, its inhabitants, and their fascinating culture, so that readers could taste Polynesia and experience the real life in the Cooks.
This extremely honest account of a woman’s voyage of self-discovery was written to give others hope and encourage them to change their own lives. It’s inspirational, thought-provoking, thoroughly riveting – simply brilliant. If you want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Blue Continent, this is the right choice for you. It’s a book definitely worth reading.