In a small country town during one long, hot summer, the Bloom family begins to unravel. Marital secrets, new and long-hidden, surface—with devastating effect.
Martha is straining against the confines of her life, lost in regret for what might have been, when an old flame shows up. In turn, her husband, Mike, becomes frustrated with his increasingly distant wife. While teenagers Tilly and Ben are about to step out into the world, nine-year-old Ada is holding onto a childhood that will soon be lost to her.
When Ada discovers an abandoned well beneath a rusting windmill, she is drawn to its darkness and danger. And when she witnesses a shocking and confusing event, the well’s foreboding looms large in her mind—a driving force as events lead inexorably towards tragedy.
The Last Summer of Ada Bloom is a beguiling story about the fragility of family relationships, about the secrets we keep and the power they hold to shape our lives. And about the love that somehow holds it all together.
Martine Murray was born in Melbourne and now lives in Castlemaine in Victoria. She is an award-winning children’s novelist and illustrator. The Last Summer of Ada Bloom is her first novel for adults.
‘Martine Murray’s writing is majestical and sophisticated.’ Books+Publishing
‘Murray’s storytelling is so fresh and beguiling that, for a moment, we feel this is great wisdom heard for the first time.’ Times
Murray's masterful adult debut (after the Cedar B. Hartley and Henrietta children's series) explores a family's fraught relationships in a small Australian town in the early 1980s. Awakened during a sweltering, mosquito-plagued night, nine-year-old Ada sees her father, Mike, having sex with a family friend. In the morning, Ada tells her older sister, Tilly, that she saw their father doing "something bad." Tilly confronts Mike to no avail, which drives a wedge between him and his daughters. The girls also struggle with their mother, Martha, who treats 17-year-old Tilly especially coldly, leading Ben, the 15-year-old favorite middle child, to conclude that Martha must be jealous of Tilly's talent on the piano. Murray nimbly illustrates the tensions running through the family using various points of view, describing emotions and events with fluid precision. A glimpse of Tilly "like a just-opened flower" sends Martha into a "sudden tumult of yearning for her own youth and the familiar tang of regret that she had lost it." As the second act unfolds, the married couple's entwined relationship with Mike's college friend Arnold emerges through a series of eerie scenes that illuminate the roots of Martha's bitterness, as well as Mike's compulsion toward infidelity. Murray's unflinching, intuitive tale will satisfy readers who like their family dramas with a strong dose of darkness.