Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

What They Say.....June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.

What I Say....Well, I think I need to preface this review by saying that Jane Green is one of my all time favorite authors.  It's always chick lit done right, and she writes real women characters.

Summer Secrets felt a little different to me, but honestly, I think it will probably resonate differently with every reader, depending on their experiences and family relationships with alcohol.

Usually, I find myself having much stronger feelings about her characters, and Cat's story was certainly compelling.  She started drinking to bolster her self-confidence as a young teen, and moved into full fledged black out binging in her early adult years. 

After a disastrous meeting with her newly found father and half-sisters (including a black out betrayal of her new half-sister) gets Cat on the wagon, and she marries her dream man and has a great daughter, but Cat makes a misstep with alcohol, and off the wagon she falls.  And can't seem to get back on.

Eventually her husband leaves her (he's a recovering alcoholic too), and takes her daughter.  This is Cat's rock bottom, and she gets sober for herself for the first time.  It seems to be sticking, and she needs to complete the step that requires that she make amends to those she has wronged.

Cat returns to Nantucket to complete her step and make her amends.   I won't go into much detail here, no spoilers allowed.

However, there were a few things that seemed out of order in this book.  Towards the end of the book,  Cat thinks back to the first time she and her husband made love (for her, the first time making love sober).  I felt like I would have liked to have read this earlier in the book, because there was never enough detail for me to actively root for Cat and Jason to find their way back to each other.  He seemed like a very nice guy, but the relationship seemed very bland.  I wasn't seeing the passion or longing.

The character of Sam didn't seem to have any purpose, other than to accompany Cat to Nantucket, and to give terrible parenting advice.  I did identify with Cat on the difficulty that we have in listening to our gut, especially in parenting issues.  That's one of the things alcohol does, it makes you not trust your instincts because the alcoholics in your life have made things so unpredictable.

Anyway, another winner by Jane Green.  The woman who introduced me to chick lit.  If you haven't read Jemima J. or Bookends, you are missing out.

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