I hope you all had a lovely Fourth of July!
Since we’re right in the heart of summer, I thought I’d mention a couple of books I’ve loved recently that had “summer” in the title.
First off is Beatriz Williams’ THE SUMMER WIVES, part mystery, part family saga, part romance. I loved this book, as I do everything she writes, and highly recommend the book and the author. (Kirkus loved it too and gave it a starred review - read it here.)
New York Times best-selling author Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season - an electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power, and redemption set among the inhabitants of an island off the New England coast....
In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda's catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda's new stepsister - all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion - is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.
But beneath the island's patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel's privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he's determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph's enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda's caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop's hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.
Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same - determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda's stepfather 18 years earlier. What's more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved...even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.
I’m a huge fan of Williams, who combines elegant writing with scintillating plots, and characters who simply jump off the page. Joseph’s family harbors complicated secrets that will manifest in tragic ways, touching the lives of everyone on the island. Isobel continually warns Miranda away from the man—confusing since she’s practically engaged to someone else—but when something flares between Miranda and Joseph, Miranda’s disapproval becomes one more reason to keep it all a secret.
Mistrust and misunderstandings run deep, but everything will come to light when Miranda finally comes back to the island, the summer Joseph Vargas escapes from jail.
I also recently picked up Jamie Brenner’s THE FOREVER SUMMER, which was a great read. (Kirkus liked it too. Review here.) Marin is rising up in her law firm and is engaged to a great catch, but she gives in to the temptation of a young partner, which leads her to break off her engagement and winds up getting her fired.
If that’s not enough tumult, a mail-in DNA test brings the discovery of a sister she never knew she had and the subsequent surprise that she was the product of an affair her mother had. When her new sister shows up on her doorstep and invites her to head off to Cape Cod to meet their biological grandmother. Angry and confused, she agrees, and somehow her mother invites herself along too.
So begins a journey of connection and self-discovery for a handful of women that readers will enjoy meeting and sharing the ride.
The discovery of long-buried secrets brings three generations of women together to Cape Cod for the summer homecoming of a lifetime.
Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it's paid off: On the cusp of 30, she has a handsome fiancé, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and her father's hard-won admiration. But with one careless mistake at work, Marin suddenly finds herself unemployed and alone. Before she can summon the courage to tell her parents, a young woman appears, claiming to be Marin's half sister. Seeking answers, Marin agrees to join her on a soul-searching journey to Cape Cod, to meet the family she didn't even know she had.
As the summer unfolds at her grandmother's beachside B and B, it becomes clear that her half sister's existence is just the first in a series of truths that will shake Marin's beliefs - in love and in her own identity - to the core. Filled with shocking revelations, heartfelt romance, and resilient women banding together against the most unexpected twists of fate, The Forever Summer is an emotionally resonant story and a delicious escape for any season.
It’s summer, and these are just two great reads for the season! So many good, summery books. What are you reading?