The End Of Summerby Rosamunde Pilcher
When you read a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher you enter a special world where emotions sing from the heart. A world that lovingly captures the ties that bind us to one another-the joys and sorrows, heartbreaks and misunderstandings, and glad, perfect moments when we are in true harmony. A world filled with evocative, engrossing, and above all, enjoyable portraits of… See more details below
When you read a novel by Rosamunde Pilcher you enter a special world where emotions sing from the heart. A world that lovingly captures the ties that bind us to one another-the joys and sorrows, heartbreaks and misunderstandings, and glad, perfect moments when we are in true harmony. A world filled with evocative, engrossing, and above all, enjoyable portraits of people's lives and loves, tenderly laid open for us...
After years in the United States, Jane returns to the tranquil Scottish estate, Elvie, where she spent a magical childhood. Memories of Elvie had always summoned the image of Sinclair, the rakish man Jane had once dreamed of marrying, but now that she is home, she finds Sinclair a different man. His charm has a purpose, and Jane can no longer trust him...or herself.
- St. Martin's Press
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The End of Summer
By Rosamunde Pilcher
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1971 Rosamunde Pilcher
All rights reserved.
All summer long the weather had been heavy and clouded, the warmth of the sun blanketed by sea fogs which had continually rolled in from the Pacific. But by September, as so often happens in California, the fogs retreated, far out into the ocean, where they lay along the edge of the horizon, sullen as a long bruise.
Inland, beyond the coastal range, farmlands, heavy with crops, with bursting fruit, and corn and artichokes, and orange pumpkins, simmered in the sunshine. Small wooden townships dozed, skewered by the heat, grey and dusty as specimen moths. The plains, rich and fertile, stretched east to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and through it all arrowed the great freeway of the Camino Real, north to San Francisco, and south to Los Angeles, crammed and glittering with the hot steel of a million cars.
Through the summer months, the beach had been deserted, for Reef Point was the end of the line and seldom patronized by the casual day tripper. For one thing, the road was unsurfaced, unsafe, and uninviting. For another, the little resort of La Carmella, with its charming tree-shaded streets, exclusive country club and spotless motels, lay just over the point, and anyone with sense and a few dollars to spare, stayed put right there. Only if you were adventurous, or broke, or surfing mad, did you risk the last mile and come slipping and scrambling over the dirt track that led down to this great, empty, storm-washed bay.
But now, with the fine hot weather and the clean rolling breakers pouring up on to the beach, the place flowered with people. Cars of all sorts came tumbling down the hill, to park in the shade beneath the cedars, and disgorge picnickers, campers, surfers and whole families of hippies, newly wearied of San Francisco, and heading south for New Mexico and the sun, like so many migrating birds. And the weekends brought the University students up from Santa Barbara in their old convertibles and their flower-stickered Volkswagens, all packed with girls and crates of canned beer, and hung about with the big brightly-coloured Malibu surf boards. They set up little camps all over the beach and the air was full of their voices and laughter, and the smell of sun oil.
And so, after weeks and months of being virtually on our own, we were surrounded by people and every sort of activity. My father was hard at work, trying to write a script to a deadline, and in an impossible frame of mind. Unnoticed by him, I moved out on to the beach, taking sustenance with me (hamburgers and Coca-Cola), a book to read, a large bath-towel for comfort and Rusty for company.
Rusty was a dog. My dog. A brown woolly thing of indeterminate breed, but great intelligence. When we first moved to the cabin, back in the spring, we hadn't got a dog, and Rusty, spying us, had decided to remedy this. Accordingly he hung around. I chased him off, shooed him away, Father threw old boots at him, still he returned, unrepentant and bearing no malice at all, to sit a yard or two from the back porch, smiling and thumping away with his tail. One hot morning, taking pity on him, I gave him a bowl of cool water to drink. He lapped it clean, then sat down and smiled and started thumping again. The next day, I gave him an old ham bone, which he took politely, removed, buried, and was back again in five minutes. Smiling. Thump, thump, went the tail.
My father came out of the house and threw a boot at him, but without much enthusiasm. It was simply a half-hearted show of force. Rusty knew this and moved in a little nearer.
I said to my father, "Who do you suppose he belongs to?"
"He seems to think he belongs to us."
"You're wrong," said my father. "He thinks we belong to him."
"He's not fierce or anything and he doesn't smell."
He looked up from the magazine he was trying to read. "Are you trying to say you want to keep the bloody thing?"
"It's just that I don't see ... I don't see how we're going to get rid of him."
"Short of shooting him."
"He'll have fleas. Bring fleas into the house."
"I'll buy him a flea collar." Father watched me over his spectacles. I could see he was beginning to laugh. I said, "Please. Why not? He'll be company for me while you're away."
Father said, "All right," so I put on some shoes, then and there, and whistled up the dog, and walked over the hill into La Carmella where there is a very fancy vet's, and there I waited in a little room filled with pampered poodles and Siamese cats, and their various owners, and at last I was let in, and the vet looked at Rusty and pronounced him fit, and gave him an injection, and told me where I could buy a flea collar. So I paid the vet and went out and bought the flea collar, and we walked home again. We came into the house, and Father was still reading his magazine, and the dog came politely in, and after standing around a little, waiting to be asked to sit down, he sat, on the old rug in front of the empty fireplace.
My father said, "What's his name?" and I said, "Rusty," because I'd once had a dog-nightdress-case called Rusty and it was the first name that came into my head.
There was no question of his fitting into the family, because it seemed that he had always belonged. Wherever I went, Rusty came too. He loved the beach, and was forever digging up splendid treasures and bringing them home for us to admire. Old bits of flotsam, plastic detergent bottles, long dangling strips of seaweed. And sometimes things that he had obviously not dug up. A new sneaker, a bright bath-towel, and once a punctured beach-ball, which my father had to replace once I had run its small and weeping owner to earth. He liked to swim too, and always insisted on accompanying me, although I could swim much faster and farther than he could, and he was always tagging behind. You'd have thought he'd have got discouraged, but he never did.
We had been swimming that day, a Sunday. Father, the deadline met, had driven down to Los Angeles to deliver the script in person, and Rusty and I had kept each other company, in and out of the sea all afternoon, gathering shells, playing with an old stick of driftwood. But now it was getting cooler and I had put some clothes on again, and we sat, side by side, the setting sun gold and blinding in our eyes, watching the surfers.
They had been at it all day, but it seemed that they would never tire. Kneeling on their boards, they paddled out to sea, through the breakers to the smooth green water beyond. There they waited, patient, perched on the skyline like so many cormorants, waiting for the swell to gather, to form and finally break. They chose a wave, stood as the water curved up and crested and showed white at its edge, and as it curled over and thundered in, so the surfers came too, riding across the wave, a poem of balance, arrogant with the confidence of youth; riding the wave until it swept up on to the sand, and then stepping casually off, and gathering up the board, and back into the sea again, for the surfer's creed is that there is always a bigger and a better comber, just around the corner, and now the sun was setting and it would soon be dark, and there was not a moment to be lost.
One boy in particular had caught my eye. He was blond, crew cut, very brown, his skinny knee-length shorts the same bright blue as his surf board. He was a wonderful surfer, with a style and a dash that made all the others look clumsy amateurs. But now, as I watched, he seemed to decide to call it a day, for he rode in on a final wave, beached himself neatly, stepped off the board, and with a final long look at the rose-washed evening sea, turned and picked up the surf board and began to walk in up the sand.
I looked away. He came close beside me, and then went on a few yards to where a pile of neatly folded clothes had been waiting. He dropped the surf board and picked up a faded college sweat shirt from the top of the pile. I glanced his way again, and as his face came out of the opening at the top of the sweat shirt, he looked straight at me. Firmly, I met his eye.
He seemed amused. He said, "Hi."
He settled the sweat shirt down over his hips. He said, "Want a cigarette?"
He stooped and took a packet of Luckys and a lighter out of a pocket and came over the sand to where I was sitting, and he flipped a cigarette up for me and took one himself and lit them both, and then let himself down beside me, stretching full length and leaning back on his elbows. His legs and his neck and his hair were all lightly dusted with sand, and he had blue eyes and that clean, well-scrubbed look still to be seen on the campuses of American Universities.
He said, "You've been sitting there all afternoon. When you weren't swimming."
"Why didn't you join us?"
"I haven't got a surf board."
"You could get one."
"Then borrow one."
"There's no one I know to borrow one from."
The young man frowned. "You're British, aren't you?"
"No, I live here."
"In Reef Point?"
"Yes." I jerked my head, indicating the line of faded clapboard cabins visible just over the curve of the sand dunes.
"How'd you come to live here?"
"We rented the cabin."
"My father and I."
"How long have you been here?"
"But you're not staying over the winter."
It was a statement of fact more than a question. Nobody stayed in Reef Point over the winter. The houses weren't built to withstand the storms, the access road became impassable, the telephone lines blew down, the electricity failed.
"I think so. Unless we decide to move on."
He frowned. "Are you hippies, or something?"
Knowing how I looked at the time, I kindly did not blame him for asking this question.
"No. But my father writes film scripts and stuff for TV. But he hates Los Angeles so much he refuses to live there, so ... we rented this cabin."
He seemed intrigued. "And what do you do?"
I took up a handful of sand, let it run away, coarse and grey through my fingers.
"Nothing much. Buy food and empty the garbage can and try to keep the sand swept out of the house."
"Is that your dog?"
"What's his name?"
"Rusty. Hey, Rusty, fella!" Rusty acknowledged his advances with a nod that would have done credit to Royalty and then continued to gaze out to sea. To make up for his lack of manners I said, "Are you from Santa Barbara?"
"Uh-huh." But the young man did not want to talk about himself. "How long have you lived in the States? You still have a terribly terribly British accent."
I smiled politely at a joke heard many times before. "Since I was fourteen. Seven years."
"All over. New York. Chicago. San Francisco."
"Is your father American?"
"No. He just likes it here. He came in the first place because he wrote a novel, and it was bought by a film company and he came to Hollywood to write the script."
"No kidding? Have I heard of him? What's his name?"
"You mean, Tall as the Morning?" I nodded. "Boy, I read that cover to cover, when I was still in high school. I got all my sex education out of that book." He looked at me with new interest, and I thought that this was how it always was. They were friendly and quite kind, but never interested until I mentioned Tall as the Morning. I suppose it had something to do with the way I look, because my eyes are pale as sixpences, and my lashes are quite colourless, and my face doesn't go brown but gets splashed and splattered with hundreds of enormous freckles. Besides that, I am too tall for a girl, and the bones in my face all show. "He must be quite a guy."
A new expression had come into his face, puzzled, and crossed with questions that he was obviously going to be too polite to ask.
If you are Rufus Marsh's daughter, how come you're sitting on this god-forsaken beach in the back woods of California wearing patched jeans and a man's shirt that should have been relegated to the rag bag decades ago, and you haven't even got enough dollars raked together to buy yourself a surf board?
He said, following with laughable predictability the line of my own reflections, "What kind of a man is he, anyway? I mean, apart from being a father."
"I don't know." I could never describe him, even to myself. I took another handful of sand, trickled it into a miniature mountain, stubbed my cigarette out on its apex, forming a little crater, a tiny volcano, with a cigarette stub as its smoking core. A man who must always be on the move. A man who makes friends easily and loses them the next day. A quarrelsome, argumentative man, talented to the point of genius, but utterly baffled by the small problems of day-to-day living. A man who can charm and infuriate. A paradox of a man.
I said again, "I don't know," and turned to look at the boy beside me. He was nice. "I'd ask you home for a beer, and then you could meet him and see for yourself. But he's in Los Angeles just now, won't be home until tomorrow morning."
He considered this, scratching thoughtfully at the back of his head and dislodging a small storm of sand.
"Tell you what," he said, "I'm coming back next weekend if the weather holds."
I smiled. "Are you?"
"I'll look out for you."
"I'll bring a spare board. You can surf."
I said, "You don't need to bribe me."
He pretended to be offended. "Whaddya mean, bribe?"
"I'll take you up to meet him next weekend. He likes new faces around the place."
"I wasn't bribing. Honest."
I relented. Besides, I wanted to surf. I said, "I know."
He grinned and stubbed out the cigarette. The sun, sinking towards the edge of the sea, was taking shape and colour—an orange pumpkin of a sun. He sat up, screwing his eyes against its glare, yawned slightly and stretched. He said, "I must go," and stood up and then hesitated for a moment, standing over me. His shadow seemed to stretch forever.
"That's a date. Don't forget."
He turned and moved off, stopping to collect the rest of his gear, and turning to sketch a final salute before walking away, the length of the beach, to where the old sand-buried cedars marked the track that led up to the road.
I watched him go, and realized that I didn't even know his name. And, worse, he hadn't bothered to ask mine. I was simply Rufus Marsh's daughter. But still, next Sunday, if the weather held, he would maybe be back. If the weather held. That was always something to look forward to.CHAPTER 2
It was because of Sam Carter that we were living at Reef Point. Sam was my father's agent in Los Angeles, and it was in sheer desperation that he eventually offered to find somewhere cheap for us to live, because Los Angeles and my father were so acutely antipathetic that not one sellable word was he able to write while we lived there, and Sam was in danger of losing both valuable clients and money.
"There's this place at Reef Point," Sam had said. "It's a one-horse set-up, but real peaceful ... end of the world type peace," he added, conjuring up visions of a sort of Gauguin paradise.
And so we had taken a lease on the cabin, and packed all our worldly possessions, which were sadly small, into Father's old beat-up Dodge, and driven here, leaving the smog and rat-race of Los Angeles behind us, and excited as children by the first smell of the sea.
And at first, it had been exciting. After the city it was magic to wake to nothing but the sound of sea birds and the endless thunder of the surf. It was good, in the early mornings, to walk out on to sand, to watch the sun rise over the hills, to hang out a line of washing, and watch it billow and fill with the sea wind, white as new sails.
Excerpted from The End of Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher. Copyright © 1971 Rosamunde Pilcher. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Rosamunde Pilcher is again at her best. I've practically read all of her books and have never been disappointed. This one has a surprise ending. I hope she writes a sequel to it.
I love this book. This book is the one that made me love to read now I can't stop reading books.
It is nice to find a "coming of age" book that is plausable and takes one back to the mysteries of the adult world before it is entirely understood. The author has captured the innocence of youth and paired it with the drama of adult family secrets that are revealed through her eyes. I enjoyed the book entirely.