Review: The Last Summer of the Water Strider, by Tim Lott
Last Summer of the Water Strider
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In 1970s London, teenager Adam, traumatised by the sudden death of his mother, is sent to stay for a sun-baked summer with his unorthodox uncle, Henry, a self-styled “spiritual teacher”, on his houseboat in the West Country. There Adam encounters an alternative world to the routine low-rise council estate on which he has been raised, as well as a local population not altogether enamoured of their neighbours’ free-living ideology. These are the dying days of hippiedom. There are soft drugs, happenings and girls. Strawberry is an American living in a shack and wasting away on her extreme version of a macrobiotic diet; Ashley is the attractive daughter of the local vicar. Lott’s prose style is deceptively simple and relaxed – there is plenty of vivid description and sharp observation, although a sexual deception in the middle of the novel is slightly unconvincing. It’s a snapshot of the end of a cultural era, a lovely song of innocence and experience.