Publisher: Red Door Press
Published: 24th Sept 2020 (Paperback)
I really enjoyed the warmth and humour of this lovely tale about a country boy, finding that the 1960s isn’t the oasis of free love and hedonism promised in the media. Sam Ashby is finding that youth culture isn’t quite reaching the depths of Sussex. In order to find some excitement he takes the job of Assistant Manager at Meads Theatre in Eastbourne. This hormonally charged 19 year old is about to find his world changing in ways he never imagined. Breezing into Eastbourne is star of stage and screen Abigail Compton who is about to sweep Sam off his feet and out of his Levi 501s (shrink to fit). This is the final book in Masefield’s quintet of Sussex novels, but easily stands alone without the reader feeling they’ve missed half the story.
Sam is one of those hapless and inexperienced characters that it’s impossible not to fall in love with. There were anecdotes that made me laugh out loud – much to the annoyance of my other half who had dressed dropped off to sleep! Wanting to give off the more moody and sophisticated aura of James Dean, Sam buys a pair of shrink to fit Levi’s 501 jeans. Using his landlady’s bathroom he wedges himself into the jeans and awkwardly lowers himself into the lukewarm water. What follows in one of the funniest scenes I’ve read this year. Having grown up in the middle of rural Lincolnshire, I could identify with Sam’s frustration with his small town teenage years. There’s never enough access to fashion, the latest music or films, and it’s a case of grabbing excitement where you can. For Sam that means taking a job in his local theatre where he might have access to the bright lights and celebrities passing through. The author beautifully captures that yearning to experience something more than boring day to day family life – even when that family is much loved. We just get itchy feet at Sam’s age, to find out who we are and have our own adventures. He certainly meets some interesting characters who tread the boards; lovies and divas!
I liked the sense of place that the author creates. Even though Sam would like to be wandering beyond Eastbourne, there is a definite fondness for the area. The author writes so warmly about the beautiful countryside, it made me want to visit the area. He treads a fine line between depicting a town on the edge of decline, but the countryside being s picturesque. There’s also a great sense of the period, seen through the fashion and the actors Sam wants to emulate. The theatre itself is a wonderful backdrop to Sam’s first experiences of management. It turns out that ‘assistant manager’ is more of a ‘dogsbody’ role and as props go missing and the lighting malfunctions, Sam is simply fire-fighting all day long. Is this normal or is someone trying to sabotage the show? Given the clashing egos on the production, it wouldn’t be a surprise! Sam juggles all of this with varying degrees of success and many laughs along the way, but will the show go on and will the beautiful Miss Compton be able to grace Eastbourne with her dramatic skills? This is a lively, funny, and good-natured romp of a book. At the heart of it, Sam is a great character. Sometimes I found myself rolling my eyes at his stupidity, but I couldn’t help but like him. He’s naive, but charming, and the backdrop of old thespians sharing their ‘war stories’ only adds to this charm.
Meet The Author
Richard Masefield comes from a family of writers – John Masefield was his cousin – and with a love of animals and the outdoors he decided at a young age that he would farm and write, if necessary both at once.
It took years of hard work before Richard could realise his dream, and in fact his first published novel was written while milking a herd of Friesian cows. He still lives on his farm in Sussex with his wife Lee and together they spend as much time as possible with their large family of children and grandchildren. Three Seasons of Sadie is part of a Sussex quintet including The White Cross, Brimstone, The Painted Lady and Chalkhill Blue. Each one is meant to be read as a stand-alone novel, they simply share a backdrop of the author’s beloved Sussex.