The Summer Wives

The Summer Wives

A Novel

Book - 2018
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In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda's catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda's new stepsister--all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion--is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society. But beneath the island's patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel's privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he's determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph's enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda's caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop's hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades. Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same--determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda's stepfather eighteen years earlier. What's more, Miranda herself is no longer a naive teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved... even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.
Publisher: New York, NY :, William Morrow,, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062860903
9780062660343
Characteristics: 367 pages ; 24 cm

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WoodneathReads
Sep 21, 2018

I read this after seeing the author speak as part of the Story Center's Speaker Series this July. I've loved Beatriz Williams' writing since I read her first book, "Overseas," but I felt like I enjoyed this one even more after hearing her talk about her writing process and the intentional way she builds her plots and characters. This was a fairly intricate plot, with three overlapping timelines - one in the 1930s, one in the 1950s, and one in the late 1960s. Each story-line connected to the others, and the book was broken into three sections - June, July, and August. If you like historical fiction, mysteries, and a dash of romance you'll enjoy this book! Extra points if you can spot the "Tempest" references. --Rachel (see more of my picks by following WoodneathRachel)

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WoodneathRachel
Sep 14, 2018

I read this after seeing the author speak as part of the Story Center's Speaker Series this July. I've loved Beatriz Williams' writing since I read her first book, "Overseas," but I felt like I enjoyed this one even more after hearing her talk about her writing process and the intentional way she builds her plots and characters. This was a fairly intricate plot, with three overlapping timelines - one in the 1930s, one in the 1950s, and one in the late 1960s. Each story-line connected to the others, and the book was broken into three sections - June, July, and August. If you like historical fiction, mysteries, and a dash of romance you'll enjoy this book! Extra points if you can spot the "Tempest" references.

l
laphampeak
Sep 01, 2018

A highly recommendable book! Williams writes about Winthrop Island over various periods of time and through the eyes of families and dubious relationships. And secrets.....secrets that cause the reader to become deeply involved. Her characters are well developed whether likeable or not. The story also has a place in history that reveals the challenge of women at the time. A solid read.

ArapahoeKati Aug 22, 2018

Beatriz does it again! Her writing is always on point. I'll read anything she writes. One of my favorite historical fiction authors.

a
AnneCarolineDrake
Jul 25, 2018

Beatriz Williams presents the descendant of a male member of the Schuyler clan. Miranda's daddy taught art at Foxcroft and was killed during WWII. The book opens with her return to Winthrop Island in 1969 to escape her movie director husband's abuse. Her mother is a widow again, and her late husband's island retreat is crumbling.

The plot reveals life behind closed doors for women from the pre-WWII years through the early 1970s and explains why women were ready for the feminist movement. Spoiler alert: Hugh Fisher is a total skunk.

There's an interesting line about how men write books and make movies which portray their fantasies about women. Perhaps this explains why the characters are far more authentic than the author's earlier books.

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