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Posts Tagged ‘Danielle Ganek’

I love the cover and title of Danielle Ganek’s The Summer We Read Gatsby. The book, not so much. Oh, it’s a pleasant summer beach tale — two half-sisters living for a month in the rickety Hamptons cottage inherited from an eccentric aunt.  But I was led on by the Fitzgerald references, and the publishers’ blurb, “a delightful comedy of manners,” to expect something a little more substantive, say, on the order of a novel by Cathleen Schine or Elinor Lipman.

Ganek uses Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as a touchstone, and she occasionally makes some pertinent observations. Older sister and actress Peck, 32, eventually confesses to journalist sibling Cassie, 28, that she thought the book was a romance on first reading and confused it with with the great love of her youth, Miles Noble.

Wealthy Miles reappears on the scene, throwing a Gatsby-themed party at his magnificently tacky and huge new mansion. Peck, given to extravagant outfits and italicized statements is sure that this means Miles wants her back. After all, he gave her a copy of the book during their initial courtship. So imagine her disappointment upon learning that a party-planner chose the theme and Miles has never read the book!

Cassie also rediscovers love with neighboring architect Finn, but it’s a bit of a bumpy ride before there’s the obligatory montage of the two lovers picknicking on the beach, strolling hand-in-hand, etc. (Cue appropriate music, maybe the theme from A Summer Place.)

And, oh yes, there’s a little bit of mystery involving the theft of a possible Jackson Pollack painting, the true agenda of a young artist claiming to be Aunt Lydia’s last protege, and the question of whether the sisters will sell their shabby-chic legacy. The engaging characters eat and drink merrily along, as fashionina Peck encourages Cassie to be more bold in her life and wardrobe choices.

Ganek writes well, and the story has the briskness of a sea breeze until she starts to wrap everything up. Then it deflates, its frothiness dissolving like a footprint in the sand before a pert epilogue.  Awwww. I wanted more. I expected more. Ganek promised more. So I am rereading The Great Gatsby.

Open Book: I bought my copy of Danielle Ganek’s The Summer We Read Gatsby (Viking) but at a nice discount. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has long had a place of honor in my permanent collection.

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