"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

04 June 2016

2016 Book Review #42: The Summer Cottage

I finished this book today which was a very easy and "feel good" story.

It was perfect for some of these late spring evenings that are staying lighter longer for reading on the deck or in the swing.


The Street family have spent every summer in their cottage on Long Island Sound.  Helen, the youngest of 4 (Thomas, Charlotte, Pammy) shared her mother Claire's athletic gene.  She loved all the games and competitions on the beach, tennis court and backyard. Charlotte, who has a "fiery" personality, Thomas, who is very ambitious, and Pammy, the middle child, have always felt the pressure of their mother's high expectations.  But Helen, who often appears to be the favorite child of Claire and John, has never felt that way.  In the summer of 1973, this was especially true.

Now that it is 2003, 30 years later, Claire has demanded that Charlotte, Thomas and Pammy join her and Helen at the summer cottage.  She says if they don't come, she will leave everything to Helen.  She is dying.  Helen has been the one who has chosen to live the closest to Claire, with her husband Charles and their two sons, Todd and Ned.  Thomas, with his wife Barb, live in Toronto with their two young children Sarah and Peter. Pammy, who lives in NYC, has never been married although she has desired to be and Charlotte, who lives in California, has had two marriages, numerous lovers, and no children although she always wanted to be a mother.

It is the long weekend of July 4th...and everyone has gathered at the summer cottage for what will probably be Claire's last summer alive. The doctor has only given her months...or weeks...to live due to the cancer.

During their time together, the siblings revisit their old memories, assumptions and decisions.  They will all face new choices that could affect their kinship...possibly shattering it...or these choices will help to reveal their family's extra special power to remember, forgive, and to grow.


This was an easy to read novel full of triumphs, tragedies, and tears. It is also filled with laughter, love, and life.

The family seems so real.  The author is new to me, and I love how her descriptions of each character were so tangible...like I would want to sit and talk with them.

The book was set up in such a way that you were in 1973 in one chapter and then the next would be 30 years later in 2003.  The ending was set in 2004.  The 1973 parts were very interesting and important in that they set the stage for how the children were as grown-ups in 2003.  It also gave you insights as to what they were like as children, and how their parents Claire and John parented them, loved them, instructed them, disciplined them.  

Throughout the story the main theme seems to be how families, even though dysfunctional, still stay true to one another and learn to forgive and let go.

Much of the book was just trite...nothing super exciting.  I didn't care for the sexual scenes...it just seems like adult fiction can do without it.  I mean.....I'm just so past that and it reeks of "sappy romance" and tends to cheapen the reading experience.

My favorite character was Charlotte and Helen.  Charlotte was just plain fun.  Helen was sweet and the peacemaker of the family.  The mother got to be downright annoying at times, especially in the 1973 parts.  

Overall, this was an easy, ok read but even though it is a book about family relationships, I have read far better ones on the same topic.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older due to content. (although it is on a very easy reading/literary level).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 7.


Susanne said...

I've heard of this author but I don't think I've actually read anything by her.

Melanie Lopata said...

ooooh this one looks good!! Nice summer reading :)