Blog Tour: Read an Extract from The Summer House by the Sea by @JenOliverBooks @HQstories


The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

Every Summer has its own story…

For Ava Fisher, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.

Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella - once the heart of the sleepy seaside village - now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.

Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summerhouse by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed…
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‘God, I’d have had to say something about you, wouldn’t I? If that bus had got you.’
‘That’s a nice way of putting it, Rory.’
Rory sniggered into his sherry. Then he looked at his watch. ‘Come on, drink up, we’ve got a plane to catch.’
Ava realised she was suddenly itching to know what he would have said about her if the bus had indeed got her. Intrigued by a possible heartfelt truth, she crossed her arms, glass dangling from her fingertips, and with feigned nonchalance so as not to appear too eager, said, ‘Go on then, what would you have said?’

Rory frowned as he considered the question. Then he downed his drink and grinned. He had a habit of picking up on when she wanted something, and her silent patience was a huge giveaway. ‘I’d say that you were a real pain in the arse growing up but sometimes you can be quite funny now.’
Ava made a face. ‘You wouldn’t have said that,’ she huffed. ‘Come on, what would you actually have said?’
Rory laughed. ‘I’m not telling you what I would have said.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because people don’t say what they think about you until after you die. That’s the bitch. You never get to know.’
Ava frowned. ‘Here they know,’ she said, pointing towards the bustling Spanish street, the air filled with life lived richly. ‘They tell each other stuff like that here. Like, Gran knew by the end that, yes, there’d been bad bits but overall she’d lived a great life. People loved her. All they went on about was how adored she was, how great she was. She knew she’d aced it.’
Rory tipped his head and swirled the dregs round in his empty glass. ‘Well, lucky her, that’s all I can say.’ He got his phone out again and refreshed his emails. ‘Come on, we’ve really got to go,’ he said, standing up, slinging his suit jacket over his arm.
Ava checked her phone. It was piling up with more messages: new dates suggested for the I’m alive!! dinner. The sweetness of friendship that she hadn’t factored on. It made her waver on the decision building inside her to defy Rory and come out to Spain anyway.
The man playing the guitar came round, proffering a hat for change. The waiter swept past, clearing their glasses from the table like magic, the teenagers blew smoke rings up at the sky, the arguing couple stood silently fuming. Ava put a euro in the hat. Rory didn’t.
‘Do you ever think that there’s still time?’ Ava asked, hand clutching her phone as they started to walk in the direction of the main road. 
‘Sorry, what was that?’ Rory said, distractedly searching for a taxi, pushing his hair back from his face. ‘God, it’s so hot here.’
‘I said do you ever think there’s still time?’ she repeated, looking straight at him.
‘Still time for what?’
‘To ace your life.’ 
‘Me?’ he said, looking confused, ‘I am aceing it.’
Ava stared after him, amazed at his unwavering certainty as he strode away to flag down a cab. Then she looked down at the emails on her phone, everyone raring to go for the new dinner date – I’m alive!! – and she knew that returning here on her own would disrupt the steady predictability of her life. Would answer back to all the faults in her life that had been disconcertingly exposed since the bus crash. She imagined her mother would have done it simply for the adventure. It was the very definition of I’m alive!!
And she knew she couldn’t let her brother be the reason she didn’t do it. Nor for that matter the safety of her friends. She opened a new email.
Thanks guys, for trying to rearrange, but I’m not going to make it. I’m going to be in Spain for the summer!

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The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

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