The first book of the year… a re-read that was not quite as the first time, but almost as delicious… ~Sheila
In The Summerhouse, three women, Ellie, Madison and Leslie are each about to turn 40 years old. Their lives have not turned out as they had hoped and each woman is dealing with something heavy and what appears to be irreversible. When the decision is made that they spend a weekend together after not seeing each other for 19 years, they all come to the same conclusion, “What do they have to lose?”
Over a weekend in Maine, over cocktails and good food, the women all catch up by sharing their life stories – from the dreams of a dancer, model, and author, to where they are now and what brought them to this point. When given an opportunity to visit a small shop in town with a woman called Madam Zoya who gives them an opportunity to go back to a time in their life when they could have made a different decision, again the women think, “what do we have to lose?”
It is soon discovered – they only have things to gain.
I read this book originally in 2003 with my book club. At the time, the book spoke volumes to me. Our book club at the time was only a couple of years old and we were still sticking with familiar genres and authors. The discussion of this book I recall was incredible. Our group all shared a time in their lives where they would like to go back to and make a different decision -in a way, in those early years fo the Bookies, it was one of the initial steps that really bonded us to one another. And truthfully, why this book holds such a special place in my heart and on my bookshelves.
While I have picked up this book since that initial date, I have not read it in many years. Over the last couple of months, I have been digging into reading (and listening to) old favorites. If I were to diagnose that, I would say that over the Holidays with it being a harder time of year for me, I find comfort in books I know that are safe and familiar. I have been popping through these books like my favorite candy.
This time, I have a few things to say that are probably different than my past reviews of this book. In fact (I just peeked) the last time I read this book was in 2008 and after I write this review, then I will read that review to see how they are similar – or not.
So…. The Summerhouse. I have to say that some of the beginning really annoys me. I wont go into it here as I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but if you want to know I am writing about it under a spoiler page… so those who have read this can join me in a rant if they so wish. Basically what I will say here is that there are some things in the early chapters before you did into the heart of the book that are just too unrealistic. Not only unrealistic but what bothers me more is that it would have been so simple to have changed this to make it believable, it’s almost silly and unfortunately could be a deal-breaker for some readers.
That said… once you get into the book where the women are together again and share their stories. THIS. This is why I love this book despite the crazy early chapters. The stories in details of their lives that they share is sooooo good. And what happens next makes this a book that despite my complaints, will always hold its place as a favorite with me.
My advice? Give it a try. It really is good. And then, come back and click that spoiler link so we can hash out what we loved and what was not so much.
Note: Fun (or not so) fun fact. They have changed how to add posts to “pages” on wordpress so while I have a perfectly fun snarky spoiler post about this book… I am unable to post ir under the Spoiler page as I used to be able to simply do by selecting that page. *sigh* If anyone knows the magic solution please let me know. I spent an hour last night on this and too much time today on it and just found it annoying and much too complicated so had to stop trying.