“Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family’s Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.”
Michelle Gable is the author of one of my favourite books of 2016, I’ll See You in Paris. Her newest release, The Book of Summer, takes us to Nantucket and tells the story of a family and their summer home, from present day struggles to the people and events of the past. In present day, Bess is back on Nantucket and dealing with the events surrounding the slow demise of Cliff House due to erosion, and her mother’s battle to save their cherished summer home. The novel also flashes back to Bess’ grandmother, Ruby Packard and her life as a young newlywed and navigating life at the start of WWII. Also throughout the novel are entries from a guest book kept at the Cliff House, which Bess and family had come to refer to as The Book of Summer.
There are many aspects of this novel that are quite appealing, and there is a charm and likability to a number of the characters throughout. The issues surrounding erosion on Nantucket along with the history of Cliff House and the significance of this home to Bess’ family is what captured my attention the most. I did find it difficult to connect to any of the characters, which kept me from truly engaging with the stories throughout. As I mentioned, there is definitely a certain charm to these characters, but that does get kind of lost in the dialogue, which is full of expressions and lingo that I assume is of that region and also time period in regards to the 1940’s era. The book is very dialogue heavy, which is not something I typically enjoy, so that combined with the content of the dialogue itself kept taking me out of the story and made the characters feel far too unbelievable. Unfortunately, The Book of Summer simply did not work for me.
*ARC provided by NetGalley for an unbiased review. Publication date: May 9, 2017.
“How lucky they were to find each other in this big, mad world.”
I’ll See You in Paris is a charming novel that takes the reader back and forth in time, travelling from the English countryside to the streets of Paris. Young Annie has many questions regarding her family history, one that her mother Laurel has never fully spoken about and prefers to leave in the past. When Annie discovers a mysterious book about the infamous Duchess of Marlborough, she becomes fascinated with the story, which as it turns out is closely tied to her own history. The book takes turns giving us Annie’s perspective and her discoveries, and going back in time to the story of the Duchess herself (who went by Mrs. Spencer) during the period when a young writer was writing her biography. This biography being the book that would find its way into Annie’s possession. We meet the writer Win, and a young woman named Pru who was the caretaker/assistant to the elderly Mrs. Spencer. As their story and experiences with the Duchess unfolds, many of Annie’s questions are answered as well.
A captivating story that kept me engaged from start to finish, I’ll See You in Paris is a beautifully written novel that is full of endearing characters. Inspired by the real life Duchess of Marlborough, author Michelle Gable crafted an intriguing and intricate story that is sweet, funny, and heartwarming. The narrative switches from different time periods and perspectives, and it does so effortlessly. It unfolds as somewhat of a mystery, and while I thought I knew what was coming and how the story would progress, that turned out to not be the case. It kept me guessing and I simply couldn’t put it down. The heart of the story for me were the characters of Win and Pru whose dialogue and interactions were so incredibly amusing. I also really enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel and learning about the character that was the Duchess of Marlborough. I’ll See You in Paris is a charming and well-crafted novel whose characters will stay with you well after the story has reached its conclusion.
ARC provided by NetGalley for review. Publication date: February 9, 2016.
“We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories… and those that carry us forward, are dreams.” – H.G. Wells