|A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams|
I scoured the internet to find really great "beach read" books even though I am not technically going to the beach until September this year (a perk of no longer teaching . . . I can vacation in September!). I wanted something on the lighter side, but still legit - like way better than Nicholas Sparks (way too many people die in his books and the story lines upset me, not to mention that his writing is a bit dull and predictable . . . sorry Nicholas Sparks fans) and way less intense than Khaled Hosseini (who I LOVE but can't really fly through because he develops his characters and crafts to dizzying proportions and I want to savor each word and digest his brilliance slowly). I found some books that popped up again and again on Amazon.com's best of the summer beach read books, and then Oprah's best of the beach read book list. I read book descriptions and created a few lists of books that I really wanted to try. My short list: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Dislafani, The Time Between by Karen White, The Interesting's by Meg Wolitzer, and The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly. I also have a list of must read memoirs, but I will save that for another entry. I decided to start my quest for summer beach reads with A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams mostly because it actually has a picture of a beach on the cover. Okay, it's not the best reason to buy a book, but I also liked that the book takes place in the 1930s and depicts friendship and love and crazy relationships.
I don't know my exact feeling at the end of this book. True to "beach read" promises of being able to turn and burn pages, I did that with this book. I loved the almost too perfect main character Lily (also called Lilybird by her equally perfect beau Nick). I loved the setting in the New England high society where image is everything. I loved the way Williams developed her characters, and I felt like I did indeed know these people, but I didn't love this book. I wanted to, I really did. I know that I am sometimes a book snob, and I have been locked in a literary ivory tower for 15 years, but I like to think of myself as a literary omnivore able to switch into different genres with a single bound. Even with my open mindedness and my quest for beach reads, I found that I didn't really care about the outcome of the characters in this book. They were all too much of something. Lily and Nick (who I rooted for despite their all too perfectness) were too good. Budgie, I mean really . . . she was so evil that her bones were rotten. And handsome Graham who was such a stereotype. I think the ultimate revelation that I didn't love this book stemmed from my apathy in the storm. I didn't care about it. I was just turning pages to finish this book so I could move on to . . . something better. I wanted Dynasty on the beach to be over.
It could be me, since the amazon reviews are really good for this book. I will need to test my "beach read" adaptability. Next up: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Dislafani. Both of them take place in summer camps and I can't wait to revisit my own memories of camp life.