Emerging new fiction is the hottest accessory to be seen with, and new writer Rosa Rankin-Gee has had her first novel published by the Hatchett Book Group: The Last Kings of Sark (£14.99).
It's a perfect summer. Jude is fresh out of university and hired as tutor to a teenage boy, Pip. Pip and his family, his overbearing father Eddy and mysterious and too thin mother Esme, live on Sark, one of the smaller Channel Islands. In the kitchen is Sofi, a London girl of Polish descent, who is sloppy with her food hygiene. When Eddy leaves on business the three young people give up on planned meals and tutoring. They bond over rosť at lunchtime, bicycle rides around the car-free island and scallops, stolen out of season with the assistance of the two Czech boys working nearby. The three of them fall in love, as much with the time and place as one another, and agree to meet in Paris.
The second part of the book does take place in France: both Pip and Jude live in the capital, but Sofi has only made it as far as Le Havre. It's interesting to see beyond the idyllic summer and The Last Kings Of Sark is realistic enough to keep the relationships within the novel undefined and unclosed.
Rankin-Gee's writing is fresh and thoughtful, but with a beautiful undercurrent of sadness. This coming-of-age novel is wonderfully realised; when you open the covers you can feel the sea salt drying on your skin.