The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen
A Novel

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With her fifth novel, critically acclaimed writer and journalist Bella Pollen takes readers into the private dynamics of a family grappling with the loss of father and husband in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, where between elemental beauty and utter bleakness, strange forces are at play.

In 1980 Germany, under Cold War tension, a mole is suspected in the British Embassy. When the clever diplomat Nicky Fleming dies suddenly and suspiciously, it’s convenient to brand him the traitor. But was his death an accident, murder, or suicide? As the government digs into Nicky’s history, his wife, Letty, relocates with her three children to a remote Scottish island hoping to salvage their family. But the isolated shores of her childhood retreat only intensify their distance, and it is Letty’s brilliant and peculiar youngest child, Jamie, who alone holds on to the one thing he’s sure of: his father has promised to return and he was a man who never broke a promise.

Exploring the island, Jamie and his teenaged sisters discover that a domesticated brown bear has been marooned on shore, hiding somewhere among the seaside caves. Jamie feels that the bear may have a strange connection to his father, and as he seeks the truth, his father’s story surfaces unexpected ways. Bella Pollen has an uncanny ability to capture the unnoticeable moments in which families grow quiet. A novel about the corrosive effects of secrets and the extraordinary imagination of youth, The Summer of the Bear is Pollen’s most ambitious and affecting book yet.


About Bella Pollen

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Bella Pollen is a writer and journalist who has contributed to a wide variety of publications including Vogue, The Observer, and The Sunday Telegraph. She is the author of four other novels including Midnight Cactus and Hunting Unicorns, which was a "Best Summer Read" on The Richard & Judy show. Visit Bella's website at
Published June 7, 2011 by Atlantic Monthly Press. 448 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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García Márquez meets le Carré meets—well, A.A. Milne at times, with hints of William Golding at others.

Jun 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Summer of the Bear: A Novel

Christian Science Monitor

A grieving family and an escaped bear find unexpected connections on a Scottish island.

Jun 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The Summer of the Bear: A Novel

The Bookbag

As the rest of the family try to heal their wounds, the youngest member, Jamie, does not lose faith for a nano-second - he thinks his beloved father is very much alive.

Jun 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Summer of the Bear: A Novel

Suite 101

Lawrence's classic contains a very peculiar ending for an early 20th century novel.

Mar 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Summer of the Bear: A Novel

Popular women's fiction often relies strongly on the fairytale aspect, whether it's the Cinderella fantasy of meeting a handsome prince and living happily ever after, or a more winsome kind of family restoration project, where lost children are found, errant husbands returned and so on.

Oct 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Summer of the Bear: A Novel

House with No Name


Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Summer of the Bear: A Novel

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