Posts Tagged ‘All the Summer Girls’

summergirlsIn Philadelphia, lawyer Kate is jilted the same day she discovers she is pregnant. In New York, former art dealer Vanessa is looking after her toddler daughter but dreaming of an old flame. And in San Francisco, aspiring writer Dani has lost yet another job and is struggling with her novel — “a story about a group of childhood friends at the beach, the death of a charming but reckless twenty-one year old boy, and a narrator plagued by secrets.” Mmm. Dani’s book sounds an awful lot like Meg Donohue’s entertaining All the Summer Girls (Morrow, digital galley), in which Kate, Vanessa and Dani reunite at Avalon Beach, N.J., their old haunt from high school and college years. Eight years ago, they spent the last carefree summer before college graduation on the Jersey shore, and it was wonderful “right up until the day it wasn’t,” when Kate’s twin brother Colin died. Unbeknownst to each other, they all have secrets involving Colin.

Donohue unpacks the trio’s considerable emotional baggage in present tense, rotating perspectives among the three friends. Each emerges as a strong individual with quirks and flaws that both irritate and endear them to one another. For example, “Kate is a Kate is a Kate,” the others say of her bad driving and good-girl ways. Vanessa’s beauty masks insecurites. Dani’s a romantic rolling stone with addiction issues. Still, friends take care of friends, and men are on the side, as Donohue’s novel mixes the grit of beach sand with the warmth of the summer sun. Vacation reading par excellence.

timefliesSo, too, is Claire Cook’s Time Flies (Touchstone, digital galley), which is as easy-breezy as its title implies (and cover depicts). Melanie is an Atlanta metal sculptor who creates works of art out of found industrial or household objects. Her latest project involves cutting up her marital bed after longtime hubby Kurt leaves her for another woman.

Still, other challenges await — Melanie’s best friend BJ has convinced her to attend their high school reunion in New England. Single-nester Melanie is more than a little wary. Road trips are bumpy when you have a highway driving-phobia, and reunions are downright dangerous when you don’t really remember the guy sending you flirty e-mails.

Cook handles familiar themes of mid-life crisis and memory lane with her typical wit and flair, and Melanie is another of her bright, sassy heroines. Merrily we read along, and the pages fly by. Woot!

islandgirlsThe three sisters in Nancy Thayer’s satisfying Island Girls (Ballantine, digital galley) have different mothers, but each calls charming Rory Randall her father. When he dies of a sudden heart attack, a codicil in his will insists his daughters spend the summer together in his Nantucket house before selling it and  splitting the proceeds.

Arden, a Boston TV host, arrives with a chip on her shoulder dating back to her teenage years and her exile from Nantucket at the hands of Rory’s third wife, whose daughter Jenny is already in residence with all her computer equipment. Middle sister Meg, a community college professor, wants the quaint back bedroom with the desk so she can finish her biography of Louisa May Alcott’s younger sister. The bickering begins immediately before a tentative truce is declared. Arden becomes swept up in a round of island parties, well aware of the presence of her TV station’s owner. Jenny, having recently broken up with her boyfriend, is forced to work on an IT project with his best friend and her arch enemy. Meanwhile, frumpy Meg makes a mess of her relationship with a colleague back in Boston. Heaven forbid they take advice from one another, but they do agree to a council of war with their respective mothers when Rory’s past unexpectedly arrives. Oh, goody, fireworks! Plus tears and laughter. Rory Randall would approve. I sure do.

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