Genre: Beach Read/Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date: May 10, 2022
In the book-beach lovers’ world, summer means it’s time for another Jennifer Weiner novel. This year it is “The Summer Place.” The plot is typical of Weiner’s works, with family drama, secrets, and imperfect yet endearing characters. Even though I am not always a fan of Weiner’s books, I read them every summer since they are a terrific way to escape real life. Weiner’s humorous, fast-paced debut 2001 novel, “Good in Bed” has a charming female protagonist who is always dealing with her weight issues, a strong cast of characters, sharp banter, and a take on life’s priorities. I thoroughly enjoyed it. How I laughed but also felt the woman’s pain when I read that her ex-boyfriend publishes a magazine article about their relationship calling it “Loving a Larger Woman.” I devoured her next 2002 novel, “In her Shoes,” where the tension is between two sisters. One is wild and beautiful while the other sister is stable but not so pretty.
Here the tale revolves around Ronnie Levy’s summer house, which she expected to fill with family through the summers, but is now feeling empty after her husband died and her children are tied up in their own lives. But, when her daughter, Sarah, brings her ten-year-old stepdaughter, Ruby, to the summer house she falls in love with it. Now at the age of twenty-two, Ruby wants to get married at the house. Every family member is dealing with a secret revolving around having an affair that could unravel the fabric of the family. It all comes to a head on the day of the wedding.
It would be a spoiler to tell you who ends up with whom. It is not a spoiler to say Weiner’s books have happy endings. That is the purpose of a beach read. However, this family should not have had a feel-good outcome. I have read about half of Weiner’s thirty-something novels. Somewhere along the line, these endings became too far-fetched to believe, as they were in “Summer Place.” It’s simply too out there to buy into. You need to shift your level of disbelief considerably to accept the plot. Maybe, it is only me who is disappointed and critical of her later books. Still, to the author’s credit, I still read them every summer preferably on a beach.
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