Review: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

July 27, 2015 1940's, historical fiction, Mira, Pam Jenoff, WWII 5

Last summer at chelsea beach

  • Written by: Pam Jenoff
  • Published by:  MIRA Books, an imprint of Harlequin, July 28, 2015
  • Length: 373 pages
  • Source: Publisher for consideration of a review

Summary:  Summer 1941  

Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

My Thoughts:  As Adelia is shipped off to America by her mother she is worried about what awaits her.  I was impressed with the spunk she shows when she arrives and her aunt and uncle aren’t there to receive her.  She is soon united with her distant family, people she’s never met, but they are taking her in.  She’s left Italy, her parents eager to protect her, as they are Jewish.

The family summers at the beach, and Addie as she is called by her neighbors the Connally boys, comes alive when she becomes the lone girl in the sea of four boys.  Mrs. Connally is very kind to her and Addie feels more at home with them than with with her Aunt and Uncle.  Back in Philadelphia she is happy she’s attending the same high school as the older boys, but her relatives aren’t thrilled she wants to make the long walk from her Jewish neighborhood to the Connally’s Irish Catholic area.  Addie feels love and much more for the family, but between the war and family loss her world is turned around.

Pam Jenoff has taken this young woman and given her spunk and determination that I love seeing in a person.  She isn’t afraid of her independence and she goes bravely into new situations.  I loved her empathy for others, while she herself was a Jew living in dangerous times.  The details of live before America was involved with the war and after were excellent.  Adelia can’t imagine the passive attitude she sees, but she has seen what was happening in Italy.  The scenes written in London were frightening, as there were still bombings and people running for shelters.

There is also love in this book, familial love, friendships and the love Adelia has for more than one man before the book is done.  She holds on to the man she loved in her youth, but often wonders if it’s the right choice.

I loved this book and I admit it is my first from Pam Jenoff, luckily there is a backlist for me to gobble up!  I highly recommend this book, it will leave you excited to turn the pages and eager to return to it.  I think it would make an excellent book club book too, as the topics are so diverse.

5 Responses to “Review: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach”

  1. Michelle

    Jenoff sets a lot of her novels either at a beach or during World War II, doesn’t she? I’ll admit that I haven’t read any of her novels, but they always do make me pause whenever I see one. I’ll have to check my library to see what they offer of her backlist!

  2. Melinda

    I really enjoyed this book as well and, like you, this was the first of Jenoff’s books that I’ve read. But I will definitely be reading more!

  3. Carole from Carole's Chatter

    Hi Anita, Hi, I found you through Ivory Owl’s list of book bloggers. this looks like a fab book! It would be great if you added your review to the Books You Loved: August collection over at Carole’s Chatter. Cheers

    PS If you would like to be a regular part of the Books You Loved group, just put a reminder in your calendar this time each month (it starts on the first Wednesday NZ time) or email me if you would like a reminder by email.

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