Title: A Hundred Summers
Author: Beatriz Williams
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Format: Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Audio Producer: Penguin Audio
Length: 11 Hours, 35 minutes
Source: Penguin Audio via AudioBook Jukebox
Genre: Historical Romance
Stars: Overall: 3 Narration: 4 Story: 3
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About the Book:
Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.
That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.
Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction…and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.
Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.
This book was a slow starter for me, and sadly I did not connect with it as I had hoped I would. Essentially the story of a love and a friendship lost, the story winds together a summer in 1931 and the summer of 1938 before the hurricane that devastated the New England coastline.
In 1931, lifelong friends Budgie and Lily spent their summers in adjoining homes on the Rhode Island coast. We get to see their bond, and the boy that caused the fracture through well-crafted flashbacks to that summer. The writing is very smooth with plenty of beautifully descriptive prose, but the characters are missing that little element of “oomph” that makes them compelling. In fact, the most compelling character was also the most stereotypical Aunt Julie: drinks too much, speaks too freely and has a penchant for living large.
In 1938, Lily is stuck in the past and unable to move forward because her best friend has married her first love, Nick. This is where the historical fiction elements come into play: the anti-semitism that was rife in the country in the 30’s is evident in speech and discrimination against Nick, and the wagging tongues that speak softly of “those people” in the Greenwald house. Again, though secrets are revealed, the predictability of these secrets were far less interesting to me than wondering if perhaps KiKi the 6 year old child, purported to be Lily’s sister was in fact her child.
Beatriz Williams has created a story that is not particularly demanding for a reader: the perfect beach read or listen, it flows by smoothly and elegantly, providing a nice diversion that is easy to pick up or put down at will.
The narration provided by Karen McInerney is smooth and pleasant. Her voice manages to capture the patois and inflections of the varying cast of characters without overly dramatic inflection or tonal changes, and most voices are quite distinct and clear. Easy to listen to, when combined with the story she is presenting this is a relaxing listen for a few subsequent afternoons.
I received an MP3 download from Penguin Audio via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review for The Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.