BOOK REVIEW: The Lost Summers of Driftwood by Vanessa McCausland

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

Is it more dangerous to forget ... or to remember? A compelling drama about broken dreams, first love and the mystery of a lost sister, for all fans of Hannah Richell and Kate Morton. She remembered this part of the trip during the day time. Her sisters on either side in the back. The sunlight flickering through branches was like looking through a kaleidoscope. How could that be so long ago? How could so much have gone wrong?

Phoebe's life has fallen apart and there's only one place left to go. Alone and adrift after a failed marriage proposal, she flees Sydney to her family's abandoned holiday cottage.

On the slow-moving river Phoebe is confronted with the legacy of her older sister's suicide, a year before. Why did Karin leave a note written in flowers and walk into the water?

Phoebe's childhood love, Jez, has moved back to the beautiful old house, Driftwood, one jetty down. He's married now and the home has become a refuge for an unlikely little community.

As the river begins to give up its secrets, Phoebe finds herself caught up in old feelings and new mysteries.

The Lost Summers of Driftwood is a story of lost loves, rekindled passions, tragedy and betrayal set against the backdrop of an idyllic south coast town.

My Thoughts:

An atmospheric and evocative mystery about a young woman whose life has fallen apart after her beloved sister commits suicide, and who returns to the place of her sister’s death to try to make sense of it all.


Phoebe seems as if she has it all – a glamorous job, a good-looking boyfriend, stylish clothes – but since her sister Karin died, she’s been struggling to keep it all together. When her relationship breaks up, she heads to the small country town where she and her family had always spent their holidays to try and heal. Memories  of her childhood – and her sister – haunt her, however. She is also unsettled to find her childhood sweetheart is still living there, with his marriage in trouble and their past unresolved.


Slowly Phoebe begins to suspect that Karin’s’ death was not her choice, and as bushfires threaten her town and new home, she uncovers dangerous secrets that will change everything.


The thing I loved most about this novel was the wonderful evocation of the Australian summer – it reminded me of so many of my own family holidays, and the bushfires scenes were particularly tense and compelling, as my own skies were dark with smoke and the smell of burning eucalypt. The mystery was clever too (though I did guess the identity of the murderer!)

You might also like to read my review of The Dry by Jane Harper:

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