REVIEW: A NANTUCKET WEDDING, BY NANCY THAYER

 

A few years after losing her beloved husband, Alison is doing something she never thought she would do again: getting married. While placing the finishing touches on her summer nuptials, Alison is anxious to introduce her fiancé, David, to her grown daughters: Felicity, a worried married mother of two, and Jane, also married but focused on her career. The sisters have a somewhat distant relationship and Alison hopes that the wedding and the weeks leading up to the ceremony will give the siblings a chance to reconnect, as well as meet and get to know David’s grown children.

As the summer progresses, it is anything but smooth sailing. Felicity stumbles upon a terrible secret that could shatter her carefully cultivated world. Jane finds herself under the spell of her soon-to-be stepbrother, Ethan, who is as charming as he is mysterious. And even Alison is surprised (and slightly alarmed) by her new blended family. Revelations, intrigue, resentments—as the Big Day approaches, will the promise of bliss be a bust?

My Thoughts: In her inimitable style, Thayer takes the reader to a lovely setting in A Nantucket Wedding. At the moment of the union between this fascinating couple, she also brings us right into the family, with all the issues that come along when the joining of two brings about a blending of assorted personalities, each with their own expectations and conflicts.

David Gladstone, a wealthy man, is about to step back from his business, but when his petulant daughter Poppy asserts herself about the business and his personal assets, he and Alison have to very tactfully, yet assertively, set some boundaries. Additionally, David’s handsome son Ethan presents numerous challenges as he flirts outrageously with whatever woman strikes his fancy.

Meanwhile, Alison’s daughters are dealing with issues within their marriages, bringing to light some concerns that might jeopardize those unions.

Can a wedding in a beautiful setting help them all face and deal with these issues? Will the upcoming nuptials remind them of their own romantic unions, or will those very beautiful moments only emphasize their jarring differences?

I loved the book, the setting, and how the author revealed those true-to-life conflicts that all families have at times.

I enjoyed Alison’s efforts at nurturing and peace-making. I also liked watching Jane and Scott figure out how they could solve their own problems going forward.

I did not like Noah, Felicity’s husband, who revealed himself to be smug and offensive with those who did not share his moral high ground regarding the environment, and then turned on a dime when someone offered what he wanted.

Could any or all of them come out of the romantic event with their families intact? Would the event itself be a reminder of what they all could learn to love about one another? 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE GUEST COTTAGE, BY NANCY THAYER

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Zach and Sophie Anderson have the perfect life in their gorgeous Boston home, with their two wonderful children, Jonah, 15, and Lacey, 10. Or at least it seems to be perfect on the surface.

So when Sophie finds a suspicious notation on Zach’s calendar, she has to confront him about it. And he is all too eager to share that he is in love with Lila, his associate, and wants a divorce.

Reeling from the news, Sophie decides to pull an “Aunt Fancy,” a term she uses to describe the wild and crazy ways that her now deceased aunt dealt with things: she took some money from her inheritance from Aunt Fancy and rented a guest cottage on Nantucket for the summer.

In nearby Cambridge, Trevor Black, who runs his own computer business from his rented apartment, and whose wife has tragically died, is raising his four-year-old son and facing some challenges with Leo’s behavior. He decides that a change will be a good thing. So off they go to Nantucket…to a cottage they have rented.

Imagine their surprise to discover that they have each rented the same cottage–from the Svenson cousins who are not big on checking what the other is doing–and will have to find some sort of compromise. After they each check the other’s references, they give it a try.

What follows is an intriguing adventure that leads the adults and the children on an unexpected summer of discovery and a big start toward healing and starting over.

But there will also be lots of visitors to the cottage for each of them, from Sophie’s friend, the aggressive Angie, who makes a play for Trevor…and then tries to reel in Hristo, the wealthy Bulgarian who has his own yacht.

Then comes the mother of one of Leo’s friends, Candace, who boldly announces to Sophie that she and Trevor “belong” to each other. But is that the truth, or wishful thinking on her part?

Right away, I was intrigued and found The Guest Cottage: A Novel a lovely mix of nostalgic moments, possibilities of new love, and a wide variety of adventures that were fun to read about. What happens by summer’s end is the stuff of romance and the unexpected treasures of life. I enjoyed this one a lot, despite its predictability; it felt like a true comfort read that left me smiling. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: SUMMER SECRETS, BY JANE GREEN

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Our story begins in London, in 2014, with our MC Cat pondering her life: the choices she has made, the numerous mistakes, and the events that have led to her newfound serenity. She is a journalist; she is divorced, with a thirteen year old daughter, Annie; and her ex-husband Jason was the love of her life. But somehow she has made peace with what she has lost.

Flashbacks and fast forwards take us through Cat’s journey, and we soon learn about her addiction to alcohol, her numerous relapses, and how she finally bottomed out.

Nantucket is featured prominently in Summer Secrets, and as we connect with Cat’s mother Audrey’s story, we discover the very first big secret that defines their lives and informs what will come after.

Will Cat’s discovery of her mother’s secret change her life? Or will it lend itself to further disaster when she, too, visits Nantucket in 1998. What happens to finally alter Cat’s trajectory in life, and how will everything settle down for her? What will happen between Cat and her new-found half-sister Julia that will cause a rift that will last for years?

I loved settling into this story and feeling a connection to Cat. The descriptions of her drinking experiences echo some of mine, even though my journey did not lead to addiction. But hard partying was a common theme in the sixties and seventies, when I was young. I also loved the settings of London and Nantucket, even though I have never visited either place, except in books and movies. The author made me feel as if I were there.

As the story fast forwards to 2014 again, we see Cat returning to Nantucket to make amends…and when she believes that the past is truly behind her, she is stunned by an unexpected turn of events. How can she go on now, and what will ultimately bring about a resolution for her?

I loved this book and must give it five stars. Fans of Jane Green should enjoy this one.

CONNECTED THROUGH LOVE — A REVIEW

On the island of Nantucket, in the off season, two women are living almost parallel lives, but without connecting. At least not in the beginning.

Beth is dealing with the stress of parenting and a husband who seems disconnected from her and the family.

Olivia is living alone, separated from her husband David, and still grieving the loss of her autistic son Anthony.

As they go their separate ways, Beth with her friends and Olivia mostly alone, it would take a bit of serendipity for the two of them to connect.

Eventually they do connect through photography. Searching for a means to support herself, Olivia picks up her camera. And when Beth finds one of her fliers, the two are finally meeting for a photo shoot of Beth and her three daughters.

What neither of them realizes, however, is that years before, Beth caught a glimpse of Anthony on the beach, lining up his rocks; the scene riveted her attention and she was captivated.

Now, years later, Beth, in her struggles to rediscover who she is, begins writing again. And inspiration comes to her in the voice of an autistic boy named Anthony.

How will writing Anthony’s story help Beth find the answers to her questions and solve her problems? Will the voice of Anthony guide her and help her find her own truth?

Will Beth’s story help Olivia finally realize Anthony’s reason for being and redirect her toward happiness and love again? A beautiful story told in the alternating perspectives of the two women, Love Anthony was a story that I could not stop thinking about. Definitely five stars for me.

GORGEOUS SETTINGS & A FEELING OF FAMILY — A REVIEW

Carley Winsted has always wanted what she has right now in her life: a husband, two children, and a wonderful home. She even enjoys spending time with her in-laws, Russell and Annabelle.

But when Gus dies unexpectedly from a heart attack, her life is turned upside down. Not only does she discover that she now has financial problems, due to her husband’s bad investments, but her in-laws have displayed a tendency to try to control her life.

Living on Nantucket Island year round is a challenge. And trying to conjure up some kind of income, while staying at home, requires a lot of initiative and creativity. But Carley does manage to turn her beautiful old home into a Bed and Breakfast, and with her talent for homemaking and cooking, she has a winner on her hands.

I enjoyed the characters in this book, especially the friendships between Carley and her best friends Maud and Vanessa. But then something happens to create a rift between the three friends. How will the friends who define themselves as La Tres Enchiladas repair the conflicts? And what will Carley do when she begins a new relationship that is sure to raise some concerns from others in the small town?

Some unexpected twists in the plot had me grabbing some tissues, but I loved the way most of the story came together. I was curious about what happened to the in-laws, who had been a thorn in Carley’s side at times. They seemingly disappeared from the canvas.

A fun story, Heat Wave: A Novel is full of great descriptions and settings, but with some loose ends. Four stars.