Reading is always a big part of my holidays. Even more so when I return to New York armed with my fabulous library card.
I took full advantage of that shiny red card this year. Here are the books I read on my time back in New York this summer:
Donna Has Left The Building – Susan Jane Gilman
I didn’t know the author, Susan Jane Gilman, before picking up this novel. but I quickly was drawn in to her quirky, humorous style.
Donna is an ex-punk rock girl who has settled into middle age in the Midwest, slaving away at an unchallenging job, saddled with debt and battling mortgage payments, and the mother of teenage kids who ignore her, at best. Discovering her husband’s secret life sends her tottering over the edge, and off on the Great American Road trip in search of the path not taken – or what Donna imagines her life might have been.
I sped though this bittersweet, hilarious coming-of-(middle)age tale, truly enjoying it, until the final segment that takes Donna abroad for the first time in her life to take part in Mediterranean migrant landings in Europe. That whole segment read like an add-on to me that had little to do with the earlier segment of the tale. Despite the lackluster ending, this was an enjoyable read.
The Summer Wives – Beatriz Williams
I may have read everything Beatriz Williams has written. I generally enjoy her glamorous, historical novels. This wasn’t one of my favorites among her work, but I did still enjoy the story line and sense of place.
Set on the fictional Winthrop Island, a Connecticut island in the Long Island Sound, this is a class tale of middle class Portuguese-American fisherfolk and the privileged, well-heeled WASPs who call the island home during the summer season.
The story follows Miranda Schuyler’s arrival on the island as a young woman in the summer of 1951, and years later, in 1969. The underlying social tensions between the summer visitors and the locals is slowly revealed. Miranda travels between the two worlds, inadvertently stirring up tensions that emerge from decades earlier.
There were nice elements to this novel and a very well developed sense of place, but I wouldn’t include it as one of my favorite Williams novels.
I’ll continue my summer holiday reads and reviews next week…