Goodreads synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season—a spellbinding novel of romance, murder, class, power, and dark secrets set in the 1950s and ’60s among the rarified world of a resort island in the Long Island Sound . . .
In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound as a naive eighteen year old, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. Although a graduate of the exclusive Foxcroft Academy in Virginia, Miranda has always lived on the margins of high society. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda is catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.
But beneath the Island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans—the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph has enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and has a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the Island for nearly two decades.
Now, in the summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same—determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naive teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice to the man she once loved—even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.
Sooo..that’s a really long Goodreads blurb, if you’re still with me, thanks.
Y’all know as far as I’m concerned, Beatriz Williams is QWEEN. She kick-started my love for historical fiction and I promptly inhaled all of her books as quickly as my library holds came in. I loved them, obsessively raved and forced these beautiful works of art on my fellow bookish friends. That’s why it was the easiest decision OF MY LIFE to pick Summer Wives when it was chosen as a Book Of The Month pick.
Alternating between the 1930’s, 50’s and 60’s, Williams introduces a diverse cast of characters who’s lives intertwine in a mysterious and secretive way. BW creates an intricate plot that weaves through the decades, branching off in very dramatic directions. I felt that because there were a lot of different story-lines presented, it created a lot of loose strings, making the ending feel a bit rushed.
“You mustn’t ever try to save me, all right? I like to sail close to the wind, as close as I can, but I won’t capsize”
Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the characters like I normally do when reading BW. The years between the timelines had an incredible impact on the lives of the characters, but I felt that so many of the details of this time were missing. In my opinion, this left me feeling a disconnect caused by a lack of character development.
The Summer Wives provides forbidden romance and young love, an escaped prisoner, murder and mystery. While I had the “twist” figured out by halfway through, it didn’t change the enjoyable journey of reading the book. In her novels, Williams creates an image unlike no other and Winthrop Island is no exception. I have a perfect picture of the island in my mind, her descriptions will have you feeling the sea breeze in your hair!
Overall, 3.5 stars and BW is still my fav 🙂 Buy your copy of The Summer Wives here!