The latest book, which was received directly from the author through Shelf Awareness’s Book Buzz, this pedometer geek reader read was Michelle Gable’s The Book of Summer. This was not the first of Gable’s novels that this reader has read. I also read A Paris Apartment a few years ago. Both are mainstream novels with a bit of history woven in. This is the extended review.
The Book of Summer
By Michelle Gable
Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017
At the center of this novel is a house on Nantucket (Sconset) called Cliff House. Its inhabitants, the family, who built the house, and their guests provide the story of their lives spent summering in Sconset.
As the novel opens, the house is about to slip into the sea as the cliff erodes away. Nearing its centennial year, Cissy Codman, a local rabble-rouser, is fighting to save her ancestral summer home by having her home moved to protect it while at the same time working to shore up the eroding cliff. She only has a few days left to save her home before it slips into the ocean. Already areas of the property are gone…the pool, for example.
Into this mess comes her daughter Bess, who is trying to pack up the contents even as her mother ignores the realities. Bess is reeling from her divorce, but soldiers on, helped by her high school love.
The past, too, plays an important part in the novel as the novel flips between the present dangers and the past of the summers of Cissy’s mother, Ruby, and her family especially during the time preceding and during World War II.
Tying it all together is the family journal called ‘The Book of Summer.’ In lieu of payment for staying at Cliff House, writing in the book became a way of those who came there to express feelings and impressions of their stay in the home and the community.
Ultimately, though, most of the writing in the journal is done by the women: Ruby, Mary, and Hattie, but the male characters (Topper, Sam, others) play just as important of roles in the story itself.
It’s a sweeping story over several generations of the family…with joys shared, sorrows hidden, and secrets revealed.
This reader enjoyed the novel immensely. The characters are not one-dimensional; they are fully fleshed out. The situations the characters find themselves in are realistic. Gable deals with contemporary issues. Having read this novel as well as her A Paris Apartment, this reader will be checking out her other novels in the near future.