Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Summer Place

The Summer Place
  The Summer Place
Author:  Jennifer Weiner
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2022. 432 pages.
ISBN:  1501133578 / 978-1501133572

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "For forty years, the house had stood, silvery cedar and gleaming glass, on the edge of the dune, overlooking the waters of Cape Cod Bay."

Favorite Quote:  "A person's happiness is his own business. Or hers."

Sarah Danhauser is one woman. Around her are...
  • Ruby, her stepdaughter who wants to pull a wedding together in 3 months. Whether or not she wants to be married is a different question.
  • Ruby's birth mother, who walked out on her but is now back for the wedding.
  • Sarah's mother Veronica.
  • Sarah's twin brother Sam who is dealing with issues of his own.
  • Sarah's husband Eli who has seems estranged since the beginning of the wedding.
  • Sarah's son Connor.
Surrounding Sarah is also the life of New York brownstones and Cape Cod beach houses.

Where this book is going... "Staying married ... was a choice." And "A Little selfishness could be healthy. It could even be what saved your life. That, she thought, was a message more girls and women could stand to hear, a thing that few were every taught." A valuable message, but unfortunately lost in the context of this story.

This summer beach read is about family secrets and a wedding weekend to bring them all out. It is about reminiscing about and testing the paths not taken. It is about communication or lack thereof. It is about family and love.

The premise is a common one and a relatable one, except for that kind of wealth. The multigenerational approach indicates the presence of multiple perspectives with different life experiences. The location indicates an immersion in a beautiful place. 

Unfortunately, the book goes from those beginnings to focus on different things. The family secrets and relationships do come out but in a way as to be far-fetched. The "secrets" also attempt to bring in so many different elements that each individual one gets lost. In addition, several characters end up a representative of an element being highlighted rather than a fully rounded individual. It's is more a checklist of relationship combinations. The multigenerational approach gets subsumed by descriptions of relationships that may or may not be across generational lines. The location ends up playing no real part of the story; the beauty of the place does not truly feature in the book.

On top of that, this book has scenes that are graphic. There is no real warning, and that is not my thing. Romance, yes, perhaps. Graphic sexual descriptions, no thank you. The fact that these encounters introduce the possibility of incest raises the question. Why? Just why?

Too much, too scattered, and ultimately, not for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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