Paperback review: Summer in February, By Jonathan Smith


Smith's novel has been republished 11 times since 1996, and has just been made into a film, with the former Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens.

It's an old-fashioned tale about the love of two men for the same woman which ends in inevitable tragedy, but that familiar narrative is made fresh and original by Smith's intelligent and thoughtful prose. Real-life artist Alfred Munnings is conventionally unconventional, flamboyant and overwhelming, dominating the Cornish town of Boskenna where the quieter Gilbert Evans collects rents. They both fall for the beauty Florence Carter-Wood, but genius exacts its price. Set in that Edwardian summer before the First World War exploded, Smith's novel captures both the tenor and the atmosphere of the times perfectly.