1955 The Summer When… recalls the thrill and apprehension of a student invited, on the first long vacation, to stay with her professor in Paris. Travelling across a continent recovering from six years of war, she gets into scrapes through her naively optimistic attitude, dented by
As she embarks on this journey into adulthood, she meets Parisian intellectuals, Russian refugees, a Spanish bullfighter, Italian
“…an engagingly honest account of her roller-coaster adventures across Europe by a Fifties girl before the feminist movement began.”
Susan Cockcroft, University and Adult Education Tutor
“A trailblazer book about the Fifties that will intrigue, amaze and amuse everyone who has enjoyed the TV series Call The Midwife.”
John Trelease, cultural commentator and book reviewer
Valerie Thornhill discusses 1955 The Summer When… at Femail First
To buy this, or any of Valerie Thornhill’s books, please go to Amazon, where you can buy it in paperback and Kindle versions
You can follow Valerie’s blog “Creating a Novel“
1955, The Summer When… Review
The book is an engaging mix of lighthearted summer fun and Valerie’s thoughts on post-WWII Europe as well as her perceptions of the cultural differences that unfold as her trip proceeds. Even though my life experiences at that age were much different than hers, I remember that feeling of wanting to learn and experience everything but having a sort of mixed reaction to the results. I really identified with this young woman, so it was easy to get drawn into her story.
In the summer of 1955, Cambridge student Valerie
Her parents had always moved home frequently and her sister was also in Europe that summer, but still, despite her relative independence, 1955 was a totally different era from +today. It was difficult to keep in touch with friends and family and it was soon obvious that, despite her resentment at
During her European travels, she stays with a professor of hers in Paris, a Spanish family in Andalucía, a friend in Genoa and visits the
Reading 1955 The Summer When…
Valerie Thornhill’s candid book recounts the six-week holiday of a
As a twenty-year-old female student who is just about to set off on my year abroad myself, I found the book compelling but also relevant. The account describes thoughts and reactions which are sometimes entirely familiar, such as Valerie’s attention to her figure (nothing much has changed on that front since 1955 apparently!). At other times her reactions are astonishing, such as her unshaken, life-goes-on attitude when she experiences unwanted kinds of adult attention- attention which could certainly have serious consequences in today’s society.
In many ways, her refusal to feel vulnerable makes her invulnerable; Valerie’s striking attitude shapes her experiences of the trip rather than the other way around. I would highly recommend this book to anybody about to go out and travel, who would like their own trip to be just as memorable!
Morganne Graves – Oxford University undergraduate
Memories of another era
The Summer When… immediately takes the reader back to a simpler, more innocent time. In the 1950s, without mobile phones or
Rosemary Allen – musician and novelist
It is July 1955 and a young Cambridge undergraduate is crossing the channel to spend the summer months improving her languages on the Continent. She is clever, attractive and intrepid, and has contact addresses in her bag – what could possibly go wrong?
Valerie Thornhill relates the story of her travels and misadventures with disarming candour. Eager to absorb culture and languages, she encounters Parisian intellectuals, the Spanish middle class and Italian poor, and as a feminist finds herself at odds with the mores of these foreign cultures (making a scene at a bullfight by cheering on the bull, wearing a bikini on an Italian beach, urging women to go to university).
Highly recommended. Penny P – reader and reviewer