Review: A Hundred Summers

ImageTitle: A Hundred Summers

Author: Beatriz Williams

Rating: ★★★

Provided Synopsis: 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.

Review: As much as I wanted to fall in love with this book (because I adored the author’s debut novel, Overseas), there were elements of her new story that did not hit the mark in terms of my taste. The story is told from the point of view of Lily Dane, who has grown up spending her summers along the Rhode Island seashore. In the summer of 1938 her idyllic beach retreat is thrown a curveball when her former best friend arrives in town with her new husband, who just so happens to be Lily’s former fiancé. In a return narrative arc from the past, it is revealed how Lily and Nick met, how they fell in love, and why their lives never reached the future they had so wistfully planned together. Fellow vacationers believe they are privy towards a scandal that happened seven years ago between the former lovers, but the question still remains in Lily’s mind as to why Nick married her best friend.

Beatriz Williams’ writing is a good as ever, yet I failed to establish a connection with the main characters. Lily had such a large heart, and it often lead to her downfall as she allowed others to walk all over her and take what she wanted for herself. Nick had moods that alternated so much, never quite leaving me sure what to make of him or what he stood for. And Budgie, well, while she is constructed to have a villainous bad-girl persona, I never believed it to the extent that I believe the author intended. The main issue is that I expected to receive a strong love story from A Hundred Summers. Instead, I felt very little connection or love between Lily and Nick until the end of the book. If this lack of connection was because of Lily and Nick’s strained relationship then Williams succeeded with her writing, but if it was because Lily and Nick did not have a love to fuel the ages then I am disappointed.

Set in a beach town I can see this being an appropriate summer read for many readers. I would just advise not to expect a kind of love that will make your heart skip a beat as you read it.

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