Shapeless Summers by Hayden Thompson


Reviewed by Lily Amanda

Shapeless Summers” is an intimate and touching story of William Greenwood, a middle-aged man from England, who retired from his lifelong career as a seafarer. William moves to the Pacific Islands and takes up data engineering positions and later begins working as a development program manager.  William hopes to regain his vibrancy and his happiness and forget the painful memories and experiences he left in England. “Shapeless Summers” is a tale of loss, pain, soul-searching, and self-discovery.

 

A rare gem, this book displays the picturesque descriptions of the Pacific Islands, its people, their history, and traditions. With Thompson’s artistic proficiency, the author does a remarkable job highlighting the indomitable spirit of locality and solidarity. While here, William learns how to endure human lights with lightness and simplicity.  The author manages to capture the richness of the local people while also some of the challenges in these islands in an all-embracing duality. This makes the story relatable and resonant as well.

Written in the first-person narrative, the book expresses the emotions of the main protagonist, and readers will find themselves rooting for him every step of the way. I particularly liked the infusion of woodcut illustrations, which are beautifully rendered and culturally evocative. This enjoyable read will make you discover the Pacific world without leaving your bedside. Thompson paints pictures as vivid as any photograph with his beguiling descriptions. Further, I appreciated how he uses the protagonist as a moral compass for the society cupped in the decisions he makes across the years.

The book is divided into four sections with each section following William’s journey to a point of self-discovery, fulfillment, and happiness. It ends in a joyous conclusion that was most satisfying. Readers who enjoy character-driven stories with island and beach settings will find “Shapeless Summers” by Hayden Thompson a fine tome. It is one of those narratives you find yourself going back to, to dig up the nuances you might have missed in the first reading. I highly recommend it!