The Summer Wivesby Beatriz Williams Published 10 Jul 2018
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New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season—a spellbinding novel of romance, murder, class, power, and dark secrets set in the 1950s and ’60s among the rarified world of a resort island in the Long Island Sound . . .
In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island in Long Island Sound as a naive eighteen year old, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. Although a graduate of the exclusive Foxcroft Academy in Virginia, Miranda has always lived on the margins of high society. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda is 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 has enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and has a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the Island for nearly two decades.
Now, in the 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 to the man she once loved—even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.
"The Summer Wives" Reviews
The Summer Wives was another book by the wonderful Beatriz Williams. She can tell a story unlike anyone else and I felt like I was right back there in time! I did find myself getting confused because of so many different characters and all the different time periods and because of that I didn’t finish this book. It was just dragging too much for me. I’m very disappointed in this one. I know I’m in the minority for not loving this one.
Beatriz Williams is back with another perfect summer read.
Miranda Schuyler arrives on Winthrop Island in 1951 with her mother, who is about to marry Hugh Fisher. She is drawn in to a world of high class parties and money, something she knows nothing about. She ends up falling for Joseph Vargas, a fishermen on the island. This is not acceptable as there is a clear distinction between those who live on the island and those who simply spend their summers there.
Almost 20 years later, Miranda returns to the island to try and solve unanswered questions and chase away old ghosts. I truly enjoyed this summer read.
Miranda Schuyler has arrived on Winthrop Island in the summer of 1951. Her mother is set to marry Hugh Fisher, and after the wedding she will be spending the summer in his home with her new stepsister, Isobel. Miranda soon realizes there are two types of people on the island, the wealthy who come to the island to stay in their vacation homes and dine at the country club, and the working class make ends meet by catering to the rich. As Isobel shows her around the island, Miranda is drawn to Joseph Vargas, who helps his father in the lobster boats and lives in the lighthouse across from the Fisher family home. Before summer's end, Miranda's path changes course and she leaves the island due to tragic circumstances. Decades later when she returns she realizes the island is still full of secrets as she attempts to seek justice.
What I enjoyed about this book was due to the alternating timelines, you had an idea of what happened early on but needed the rest of the pieces to the puzzle to see the whole picture. I wouldn't say there were any truly shocking plot twists in this book but I still had a hard time putting the book down. I really enjoyed seeing the people of the island through the perspectives of Miranda and Bianca. The setting of Winthrop Island and how the rich and working class interacted were strong assets and made the book all the more enjoyable.
My only disappointment with the book came with the ending. I didn't feel like it was the most satisfying ending. I don't know how to describe it other than when I finished the book I walked away with a "meh" type feeling whereas up until the last few chapters of the book, I had really enjoyed watching the story unfold. It certainly isn't a bad ending but for me it was the weakest part of the book.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
“Nobody ever says what they really mean. There is this vast fabric of tender little lies, and all the important things are unspoken. Boiling there underneath. We only bother telling the truth when it’s too small to count.”
Dark secrets, lies, and betrayals set the stage for The Summer Wives. This chaotic saga is built around exclusive Winthrop Island, where the rich vacation and the locals live modest lives. The class lines create a comfortable divide, but when boundaries are crossed, it leads to a great tragedy.
Three timelines which take place during the summer months over the course of 40 years divide the narrative. While there are multiple characters and storylines, the main focus is on film actress Miranda Thomas, the stepdaughter of infamous islander Hugh Fisher.
The novel begins In 1969 when Miranda returns to her family’s crumbling estate on elite Winthrop Island. It’s been 18 years since Miranda fled the island to build a new life. Is it a coincidence that her first love, Joseph, has recently escaped from prison?
Even though there is a lot going on with the many timelines and characters, I didn’t have a difficult time keeping up with the various events. The narrative is structured into an easy to read pattern that is continuously repeated throughout the novel: it begins in 1931, switches to 1951, and then transitions into 1969.
I would have liked to have read more about the storyline that takes place in the 1930’s and I found the language of the 1950’s timeline was a bit contrived. I think that there was just too much that Williams was trying to weave in, and as a result, there were too many loose threads that didn’t come together. I also found the ending to be overly dramatic and rushed.
What I enjoyed most was reading about Winthrop island; Williams does a beautiful job of bringing the island to life. It’s just too bad that the plot didn’t match the beauty of the setting!
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway!
Miranda has come back after eighteen years to the island where she has spent every summer since her mother married into the prestigious Fisher family. She hasn’t told anyone the reason why she has returned to Winthrop’s Island with bruises that no one mentions, but since she stays for a relatively long time, the reason can be assumed even though it might be the wrong guess.
Miranda's return isn’t a welcome event even after all of this time, though, because of her testimony at the trial of the lighthouse keeper’s son back in 1951 when she was eighteen and in love with the accused.
Miranda hadn’t grown up with the elite and wealthy. When her mother married Hugh Fisher after her father was killed in WWII, she is introduced to that life and also sees how the year-round residents who fish and work as domestics live.
THE SUMMER WIVES goes back and forth from 1930 to 1951 and then to 1969. We learn about Miranda’s life, the lives of the Fisher and Monk families, the lives of other island residents, and how the lives of the domestic help are all connected by one specific incident during those years.
I enjoyed the story from the 1950’s the best. It was the most interesting and the least confusing. The 1930’s didn’t make sense to me how it fit in, but as I kept reading, I found out that it kept a secret and held a BIG surprise.
Ms. Williams has written another book that will hold your interest but has a bit of confusing story line with all the back and forth.
THE SUMMER WIVES is a story of the typical antics and lives of privileged families. We learn that most of the Winthrop Island families may have had money, but most of them are not happy.
THE SUMMER WIVES has a great setting, good story line, and has characters with problems and secrets both past and present.
I enjoyed Ms. Williams’ latest even though it dragged a bit at times, but the ending had it all coming together and was very satisfying. 4/5
I received an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow Books for this free review copy!
Set on an exclusive island of elite wealth in Long Island Sound, THE SUMMER WIVES bounces between 1930, 1951 and 1969. Williams masterfully weaves these storylines and events together while always maintaining a taut tone of romance and suspense revolving around two very different families on the island - one year-round Portuguese family and one of the wealthy New England summer clans.
There is really something for most readers in this tale ~ forbidden love warring with dutiful marriage, a movie star, mystery, murder and a gorgeous Atlantic coastal setting. Definitely one of my very top picks for summer 2018!