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A Hundred Summers – Book Review

HundredSummersI wish I could remember more. I wish I had taken down every detail of Nick’s appearance, his expression, his outline against the gray buildings of the station, because I was not to see him again until the summer of 1938, the summer the hurricane came and washed the world away. – from A Hundred Summers –

Lily Dane is still a college girl at Smith in 1931 when she meets Nick Greenwald for the first time while at a weekend Dartmouth football game with her effervescent childhood friend, Budgie Byrne. After a whirlwind romance and engagement, however, something goes terribly wrong. Several years later, in 1938, Lily returns to the fictional oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island to enjoy another traditional summer…and then learns that her once best friend, Budgie, has landed there as well, accompanied by her new husband – who is none other than Nick. The two young women reconnect, but there is tension that strums beneath the surface and the local townspeople seem to be shunning the Greenwalds primarily because of Nick’s Jewish background. And then there are the rumors about the parentage Lily’s six year old sister. As the summer unfolds, dark secrets begin to surface, while a history-making hurricane barrels up the coast and threatens to change Nick, Budgie and Lily’s lives forever.

A Hundred Summers is a terrific and luscious summer read. Narrated in Lily’s singular voice and moving back and forth from 1931 to 1938, the novel is compelling.

Beatriz Williams catapulted onto the literary scene last year with her debut novel Overseas (read my review). Her sophomore effort establishes her as a serious writer of women’s fiction. She builds believable characters who hook the reader…and creates sizzling romance interspersed with riveting historical events. The New England Hurricane of 1938 is one of those real events – in fact, it is the basis for the title of the book (Williams explains in the historical notes that New England hurricanes of a Category 3 are called “hundred-year storms” because the probability of such a disaster occurring in any one year is about 1 percent).

I remember my grandmother and grandfather talking about the 1938 storm which they lived through. They told of huge waves, flooding and downed trees which forced my grandfather to drive through neighbors’ back yards and winds which howled endlessly. In her novel, Williams recreates those tense moments perfectly and uses them to amp up the already conflict-ridden plot.

I read through this novel in no time. The way Williams sets up the narrative, flipping back from past to present, kept me turning the pages long into the night. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I really enjoyed this book! Readers who love women’s fiction, but who are also interested in historical fiction, will be drawn to A Hundred Summers. But it is Williams’ pitch perfect dialogue, emotionally engaging plot and fantastic characters who will keep them coming back for more. I’ll be looking for future novels by this talented writer.

Highly recommended summertime read.

4hStars

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review.

 

10 Comments

  1. June 7, 2013    

    A new author for me. Overseas is available in my library and I am going to get that!

  2. June 7, 2013    

    This does sound compelling. People must be worried about the weather – it seems like I heard about a couple other storm related books while I was at BEA.

  3. June 8, 2013    

    I loved Overseas too so I am really excited to read the next novel of hers. Happy to hear it’s so good!

  4. June 8, 2013    

    I’ve been wanting to try this one since i first read about it as I am fascinated about the Hurricane of 1938 and how in devastated both RI and Long Island. Glad u enjoyed this one.

  5. Judy Judy
    June 9, 2013    

    Sounds like a very intriguing read. I hope to get some good summer reading in, in between quilting and other summer vocations.

  6. June 10, 2013    

    I have not read any book by this author yet. I like reading books set in the early and mid 1900s. So this one’s going on my list to read.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ti Ti
    June 10, 2013    

    I have a copy of this and I need “terrific and luscious” in my life! I think I may start it this weekend. Gotta finish Joyland and a couple of others first.

  8. Lacey Smith Lacey Smith
    June 11, 2013    

    I love summer so much, just because I can lay out on my swing and read! I’m definitely going to take a look at “A Hundred Summers”, since I’m finishing up my current book right now. You should check it out, it’s called “Secrets of a Spiritual Guru” by Tamara Lee Dorris, http://tamaradorris.net/. If you are like me and love chick lit/women’s fiction, this book’s got it; plus it’s fun and funny! Thanks so much for this review, can’t beat a great book on a beautiful summer day!

  9. June 11, 2013    

    This sounds interesting. The family of one of my mom’s best friends was devastated by the hurricane of ’38 when they were given the all-clear to return to their island summer home before the hurricane headed back inland. I’ll have to track down a copy for some beachside (on a clear day) reading.

  10. June 14, 2013    

    Oh I would like to read this author. You sold me on both of her books, which sound perfect for summer reading. Not sure if I should dive into the first or the second.

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