Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: A Hundred Summers, by Beatriz Williams


Personal Thoughts......

The setting of A Hundred Summers takes place in and around Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  As a child I vacationed along this same stretch of beach with my family each summer.   Later, my parents moved to Misquamicut to be close to the shoreline.   However,  the visions of "38", and it's aftermath were still vivid to them. They were 10 years old when the hurricane hit.  They decided that they wanted to be at least 3 blocks from shore. They never regretted a day spent near the Atlantic beaches.

I consider myself very lucky to have experienced life along the Misquamicut shores. Memories are cherished of that time.  If you have never had authentic Fish and Chips, or clam cakes, then head to Rhode Island sometime soon.  Yum! Yum!

I was often told stories of the 1938 Hurricane that decimated the South County shores of Rhode Island.  In fact, my Great Aunt had a cottage there.  When the storm hit, the winds, rain and storm surge was so violent, parts of her home's foundation were found blocks away.   Only a few homes were left standing. Over the years, time wipes away memory and cottages and businesses have emerged along the Atlantic shores.  If you ever doubted the expression  that history repeats itself, than the tempest of last October, 2013 known as Hurricane Sandy was confirmation, and a rapacious reminder.

Here is a You Tube video filmed in September 2012 by CBS Chennel 5, Boston,  on the 75th anniversary of the 38 Hurricane.

For me, the cautious words of my parents haunted me as the visions of Hurricane Sandy smashed into the coastline once again with equal velocity.


A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
by Beatriz Williams
Putman Adult
May 30, 2013
Hardcover, 369 pages

Lily Dane returns to Seaview, Rhode Island, on Memorial Day of 1938 to begin another summer at her family’s home in the quaint oceanside community.  She arrives with her family and six-year-old sister, Kiki, who is lovable and precocious. Seaview’s residents are a close-knit blend of old money socialites and families who traditionally summer and party together. When Budgie and Nick Greenwald arrive, Lily is forced to revisit her painful past.
Lily hasn’t seen Budgie, her best friend from college, and Nick, her ex-fiancé, in seven years. The Greenwalds create fuel for summer gossip not only because Nick is Jewish but because he was once madly in love with Lily.  Tensions among Nick, Budgie and Lily mount as the three try to coexist during the summer season. One day, Graham Pendleton, a celebrated pitcher for the Yankees, arrives in town; Graham and Budgie had had a hot affair in college, but now, oddly, he sets his sights on Lily.
The novel begins several months before the infamous hurricane that decimated the coastal communities of Rhode Island’s South County. Napatree Point in Watch Hill is still a sandbar visited by vacationers, and this setting promises a serene and reflective walk overlooking the turbulent Atlantic. Seaview is a fictitious community, but Beatriz Williams also captures with journalistic acuity the sudden wrath and destruction witnessed by residents.
The hurricane of 1938 lends a perfect metaphor to the lives of those who spent that summer in Seaview. Beatriz Williams masterfully imbeds unpredictable twists and turns that will transfix readers until the waters of the hurricane subside. It wouldn’t surprise this reviewer that if after reading A Hundred Summers,  Napatree Point in Rhode Island is added to many bucket lists.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Disclosure: A copy of this book was given to me by HNR in exchange for a review that appeared in the May 2013 issue of Historical Novels Review. 

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