The ocean, the wild roses on the dunes and the stunning Cliff House, perched atop a bluff in Sconset, Nantucket. Inside the faded pages of the Cliff House guest book live the spellbinding stories of its female inhabitants: from Ruby, a bright-eyed newlywed on the eve of World War II to her granddaughter Bess, who returns to the beautiful summer estate.
For the first time in four years, physician Bess Codman visits the compound her great-grandparents built almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Bess must now put aside her complicated memories in order to pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave. It’s not just memories of her family home Bess must face though, but also an old love that might hold new possibilities.
In the midst of packing Bess rediscovers the forgotten family guest book. Bess’s grandmother and primary keeper of the book, Ruby, always said Cliff House was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother’s words in ways she never imagined.
Gable weaves a tale of generations of women who have come back to the comfort of their home in Sconset, Nantucket, time and time again. On the cusp of a difficult divorce, physician Bess Codman returns to Sconset to visit her mother, Cissy, at Cliff House, their family home on the bluff overlooking the sea. While Cissy is determined to get local government to approve erosion prevention methods. Bess struggles with her impending divorce, unplanned pregnancy, and newly awakened feelings for her high school boyfriend, Evan Mahew. Interspersed with present-day events are the musings of the past from the Book of Summer, a book started by Sarah Young, one of the first residents of Cliff House in 1914. She asked family and friends alike to memorialize their stay at the summer home with pictures or tales of their visit. Entries in the book are highlighted throughout the novel, revealing the difficulties faced by other residents, most notably Bess's beloved grandmother Ruby, who lived in the home during World War II. Gable cleverly illuminates the past, revealing how it mirrors the present. This is a splendid multigenerational novel about the strength of the women of Cliff House. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
This book was quite interesting and I fell in love with all of the characters. Gable does an excellent job at allowing readers to vividly see what is happening. It seems like with each of her books her skill becomes greater and greater. This was money well spent!
At first, I wasn't sure if I would keep reading. Seemed a bit fluff. But it got interesting about one third through and was very good to the end.
Michelle Gable's latest novel
The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable takes us to Cliff House in Siasconset on Nantucket. Dr. Bess Codman receives a call from her father asking for her assistance. Cliff House, the family home, is slowly falling over the bluffs into the ocean. Thanks to erosion, they have already lost the tennis courts, pool, dressing rooms, and part of the veranda. It is just a matter of time before the house disappears, but Cissy Codman (her mother) refuses to leave the house. Bess’ father wants her to fly home from California and get her mother out of the house. Cissy is a force of nature. She is still trying to save her family home and is waiting for a Board of Selectman vote on Sankaty Bluff Preservation Fund (Damage Prevention Project). Bess arrives and begins packing up the house. She discovers the families The Book of Summer. A guest book started in 1911 when Cissy’s ancestors, Sarah and Philip Young moved into the newly built home. Guests and family were asked to write an anecdote or story into The Book of Summer. Bess would like to become the new caretaker of the book. Bess’ grandmother, Ruby was responsible for it until her death. Going through the book and the house will bring old stories and secrets to light. Bess will discover things she never knew about the women in her family. We journey back to the days of Ruby Young and relive her time in Cliff House. The past has a way of influencing our present lives. Will Cissy be able to save the family home? How will the family history affect Bess and her future?
The Book of Summer is a novel that takes readers back in time to relive the Young family history. We are taken back to 1939 to relive Ruby Young’s life at Cliff House. There are several storylines in the book. One of them is how gay men were treated by the military during World War II. Another is Bess getting a divorce and the reason why. The writing is nice and there are some beautiful descriptions of Nantucket. The book does have a sweet ending. However, I found the pace of the novel to be slow, and I felt it needed some editing. The book was just too long. There is an extreme amount of foul language in the story and it was completely unnecessary (I found it offensive). My main problem with the book was Cissy Codman. She was an over-the-top eccentric who quickly got on my nerves (who picks up a person at the airport on a bicycle). Cissy is the most unique character in The Book of Summer, but not the only one. I believe it was supposed to come across as humorous, but I was not laughing. I give The Book of Summer 3 out of 5 stars. I just found The Book of Summer to be rather bland and unsurprising. I was never drawn into the story and did not connect with the characters. I was curious about The Book of Summer (the guest book belonging to the Young family). What a great concept. It is the type of item I would love to sit down and read through. While I did not enjoy The Book of Summer, I do recommend Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment and I’ll See You in Paris.