Van has finished reading… The Summer House by Philip Teir

18 May


Never judge a book by its cover, or indeed its country. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from Philip Teir’s The Summer House – not the book I read, that’s for sure. Having said that, the cover is perfect: that cold palette, the rocks and the water, the distance.

The Summer House by Philip Teir (translated by Tiina Nunnally) follows Julia and Erik as they take their children, Alice and Anton to Mjőlkviken to stay at the family’s old summer house by the sea. Leaving Helsinki behind, it’s a chance to forget the worries of work and the city’s pressure, to spend time together, to reconnect as a family.

But when do we ever really leave our worries behind?

The atmosphere is everything you might expect from the association of that word ‘scandi’, though it’s very cleverly couched in the characters rather than the scenery or a blockbuster body count. There’s every shade of isolation and disaffection in those characters, and they reflect the wider story perfectly. And then there’s the last line, weighted with such precision as to make the whole book seem like a long lead up to the killer punchline. In those last few words Philip Teir shines a light on us all, on those times when oblivion seems an easier option, and he shows us just how thin the veneer can be.


It’s a book of possibilities, a story that layers expectation upon expectation so that you find yourself always wondering what’s going to go wrong. It’s effectively unsettling. The perfect foil to the long hot day on the busy sandy beach you’ll be on when you read it.


The Summer House will be published by Serpent’s Tail on 12th July 2018 ISBN:9781781259276

You can find Philip on Twitter @philipteir

My especial thanks to Serpent’s Tail for allowing me to review this book.


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