Book Review: A Hundred Summers

July 17, 2013 1930's, Beatriz Williams, book review, Depression era, Penguin, putnam books, WWI 6

Written by:  Beatriz Williams

Published by: Putnam Books, an imprint of Penguin May 30, 2013

Length: 357 pages

Source: Publisher

A story told in two timelines, late 1931 early 1932 and the summer of 1938, this book is ultimately a love story.  Lily Dane and Budgie Byrne are best friends, have grown up together and are now students at Smith college.  As Budgie drags Lily along to a Dartmouth football game, naturally Budgie is dating a player.  As they arrive and watch the game, Budgie oohing and aahing all over her current beau, Graham Pendleton, Lily takes note of another player.  She spots a tall and handsome young man, one Nick Greenwald.  Budgie agrees he might be fun…but you can’t exactly take him home to mommy, because he’s a J- E- W, this is exactly how she refers to him. Of course Lily is smitten with Nick, and as she begins to fall in love with him, she does worry about how her father will react, but she becomes determined to make it work. One expectant and yet tragic night things go awry  for Lily and Nick, her family crisis changes everything.

Fast Forward to 1938 and the beaches of Seaview Rhode Island where Lily has been summering all her life.  The rumors and whispering start one night at the club, where they are dining.  It seems Budgie and Nick Greenwald are to be renovating her family’s cottage, and spending the summer in Seaview.  Yep..Budgie Greenwald!  How did this happen, how did her best friend end of marrying her former beau?  This book is full of twists and turns lies, and withheld truths, lovers quarrels,and passion you have to take this wild ride that Ms. Williams has written so beautifully to learn the truth, because people are so curious, and deceitful. 

I adore this time period, just past WWI and the early years of the depression.  This books is rich with people’s unhappiness and jealousy.  Young and oh so innocent Lily is the lead character of the book, her life has so very many ups and downs.  She trusts most everyone, and is hurt by those same people.  Because of the two timelines the reader is aware she is falling for Nick, and yet we also know Nick has married her friend Budgie.  What falls between those two facts is the good stuff in this book.

Beatriz Williams has tapped into the best and worst emotions and actions of the people in Lily’s life.  One topic that returns over and over again is that of just being honest.  No one is honest with Lily.  Some people keep secrets from her to protect themselves, others to help protect her, and of course all that comes from these secrets are horrible.  These people are broken…expectations of a good life have been torn apart by either war or the crashing economy.  Most of them will do anything to make their lives at least appear affluent or happy.  Williams vividly explores the reality of a time time of excess in many things, these people are constantly drinking, smoking, flirting and having sex.  These people were not prudes!

The characters in this book often broke my heart, I wanted so much for Lily to be happy, and to find love.  You’ll need to read it yourself to learn it all.  I’ve given this book 5 out of 5 stars…a wonderful book for summer or anytime. 

6 Responses to “Book Review: A Hundred Summers”

  1. Review: The Wicked City | Anita Loves Books

    […] waiting for her next book.  I believe I enjoyed this book as much as my first book by Williams, A Hundred Summers.  If you’ve never read her books, this is a wonderful place to […]

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