With her fifth novel, critically acclaimed writer and journalist Bella Pollen takes readers into the private dynamics of a family grappling with the loss of the father and husband in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, where between the elemental beauty and utter bleakness of the islands, strange forces are at play.
In 1980 Germany, Cold War tensions are once again escalating and a mole is suspected in the British Embassy. So when the clever diplomat Nicky Fleming dies suddenly and suspiciously, it’s convenient to brand him the traitor. But was his death an accident, murder, or suicide? As the government digs into Nicky’s history, his wife, Letty, relocates with her three children to a remote Scottish island hoping to salvage what remains of their family. But the isolated shores of her childhood retreat only serve to heighten their distance, and it is Letty’s brilliant and peculiar youngest child, Jamie, who alone manages to hold on to the one thing he’s sure of: his father has promised to return and he was a man who never broke a promise.
When Jamie sets off to explore the island with his teenaged sisters, they discover that a domesticated brown bear has been marooned on shore and is hiding somewhere among the seaside caves. Jamie soon becomes convinced that the bear has a strange connection to his father, and as Jamie grows determined to find the truth, his father’s story begins revealing itself in unexpected ways. Bella Pollen has an uncanny ability to zero in on the quiet, unnoticeable moments in which families lose the capacity to communicate. A novel about the corrosive effects of secrets and the extraordinary imagination of youth, The Summer of the Bear is Pollen’s most ambitious and affecting book yet.