“That summer in the heart which is known only in youth.”
Summer in the Heart is a lyrical evocation of the innocence, fun and liberation of growing up in the 1960s. Moving into and through his teens, Jim Mitchell must put his County Antrim village childhood behind him and adapt to the wider world of grammar school and the life of Belfast city.
In the process the reader accompanies Jim on a series of marvellous episodes. There is the self-conscious torture of his first school dance; playing truant from the formidable Cheyenne Bodie’s maths class; and the secrecy and fear that surround the summer love he finds with his country sweetheart June.
Subsequently we follow Jim’s progress through the coffee bars and streets of Belfast, new friendships and the love of city girl Katie, to his first real taste of freedom on a working holiday at an English seaside resort in the long hot summer of 1964. Jim progresses from the self-doubt and alienation of early adolescence to the beginnings of emotional maturity. The disparate settings and characters of the novel are conveyed with equal power, small worlds portrayed in a poetic way, with delicious feeling and humour.
John Kerr McMillan was born in County Armagh in 1948 and educated in Belfast, London and Bournemouth.
His first novel “On A Green Island” was published in 2001 to general critical acclaim. Peter Berresford Ellis writing in the Irish Democrat described it as “a powerful story, a fascinating first novel from a talented writer”; Edward Upward commented “the strength of his love for rural Ireland is beautifully conveyed” and Philip Callow praised “a narrative that grips the reader from the first page.”
Married with two daughters, John now lives in Somerset where his time is occupied with writing, lecturing and his family.