Friday, February 01, 2013

Review: Summer House by Nancy Thayer (audio)

Summer House by Nancy Thayer
Read by Emily Durante
Tantor Media
Length: 11 hours, 34 minutes

DescriptionFrom Nancy Thayer, the New York Times bestselling author of Moon Shell Beach, comes a luminous novel that brings together three generations of strong-willed women on the island of Nantucket, each wrestling with life-changing decisions.

After years of wandering from whim to whim, thirty-year-old Charlotte Wheelwright seems to have at last found her niche. The free spirit enjoys running an organic gardening business on the island of Nantucket, thanks in large part to her spry grandmother Nona, who donated a portion of her land on the family's seaside compound to get Charlotte started. Though Charlotte's skill with plants is bringing her success, cultivating something deeper with people—particularly her handsome neighbor Coop—might be more of a challenge.

Nona's generosity to Charlotte, secretly her favorite grandchild, doesn't sit well with the rest of the Wheelwright clan, however, as they worry that Charlotte may be positioning herself to inherit the entire estate. With summer upon them, everyone is making their annual pilgrimage to the homestead—some with hopes of thwarting Charlotte's dreams, others in anticipation of Nona's latest pronouncements at the annual family meeting, and still others with surprising news of their own. Charlotte's mother, Helen, a Wheelwright by marriage, brings a heavy heart. She once set aside her own ambitions to fit in with the Wheelwrights, but now she must confront a betrayal that threatens both her sense of place and her sense of self.

As summer progresses, these three women—Charlotte, Nona, and Helen—come to terms with the decisions they have made. Revisiting the lives and loves that have crossed their paths and the possibilities of the the roads not taken, they may just discover that what they've always sought out was right in front of them all along.

My thoughts: I have listened to quite a few of Nancy Thayer's books and I've thoroughly enjoyed them all. The fact that this was set on Nantucket only made it better - my favorite place to live vicariously through characters!

In Summer House, we follow three of the Wheelwright women as they deal with major decisions in their life. Of course, we get to know the whole big family, but the point of view alternates between Nona, the matriarch of the Wheelwright clan; Helen, Nona's daughter-in-law; and Charlotte, Nona's granddaughter and Helen's daughter.  It flows seamlessly from one woman to the next, all the while giving us not only their stories, but the rest of the family. When it is Nona telling the story, we also get flashbacks to when she was young, during the early years of her marriage.

Each woman is a strong female character and you can't help but love them and sympathize with them as their stories are told. As with any family, expectatations and perceptions play a huge role in shaping each person - sometimes for the good and sometimes not. 

I would love to have a place like the 'summer house' that the Wheelwrights own on Nantucket - the descriptions that Nancy Thayer used allowed me to picture in my mind a wonderful escape not only for the summer but year-long! Between the screened-in porch and the gardens and all the rooms, I could easily picture myself setting up residence there.

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I listened to Emily Durante narrate a story and I enjoyed listening to her. She made the story flow effortlessly and it was quite easy to differentiate between the characters. I would definitely listen to more by this narrator.

Do you have a favorite place that you love to read about where you live vicariously through the characters?

(I borrowed this audio book from the library.)

*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes every Friday - a meme to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!


1 comment

  1. I am behind on this author's books. I love Nantucket. My favorite place to read about and live vicariously through the characters is Scotland!


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