The Great Godden

Meg Rosoff

The Great Godden
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The Great Godden

Meg Rosoff

Shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award 2020

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer - the summer when everything changes.

In a holiday house by the sea, in a big, messy family, one teenager watches as brothers and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter the Goddens - irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise - and the consequences will be devastating.

From bestselling, award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale - a summer book that’s as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and I Capture the Castle but as sharp and fresh as Normal People.


A British family of six and their friends spend each summer at the beach, returning to an old home, and all their summer pursuits. It’s different this year as they are joined by two American brothers, chalk and cheese siblings, the sons of a somewhat-known actress. While Hugo Godden comes off as quiet and moody, Kit is glowing and beautiful, immediately enthralling everyone around him, including the young narrator.

It’s a story that strongly echoes I Capture the Castle or even Call Me By Your Name: a gorgeously written, stormy coming-of-age tale of first love and family. Interestingly, the narrator’s gender is never revealed. They’re a really strong character; an observant young person with a big sense of self, a bit defiant, a bit cynical but not as immune to life’s provocation as they imagine.

Of course, being Meg Rosoff, this novel is humorous too and there’s a fairly dramatic twist towards the end that you may not see coming. This is a slim and alluring book, it’s so easy to devour, but each and every character has been richly painted. I believe The Great Godden is the first of three summer novels that Rosoff will publish, and that’s exciting news. This is perfect escapism reading for those dreaming of warmer weather and holidays.

Kim Gruschow is the children’s book buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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