Book Review: A Certain Summer by: Patricia Beard

Rating: 4/5

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publish Date: May 21, 2013

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Format:  Trade Paperback

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: "Nothing ever changes at Wauregan.” That mystique is the tradition of the idyllic island colony off the shore of Long Island, the comforting tradition that its summer dwellers have lived by for over half a century. But in the summer of 1948, after a world war has claimed countless men—even those who came home—the time has come to deal with history’s indelible scars.

Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war.

Part mystery, part love story, and part insider’s view of a very private world, A Certain Summer resonates in the heart long after the last page is turned.

Review: Wauregan is a beautiful island where the same families have had houses there for generations. Up until now, nothing had ever changed at Wauregan. It’s now 1948 and World War II has changed the world and taken millions of lives. There is an air of sadness and confusion over Wauregan as couples are trying to learn to live together again, widows are learning to live without their husbands, and Helen Wadsworth is still trying to discover what happened to her missing husband, Arthur. The world is different now and as much as everyone would like it to go back to the way it was “before”, that egg has been long broken. As Helen struggles to find the truth, she has to also take care of her teenage son, Jack, and do what’s best for him, too. Two men are vying for her attentions – a wounded war vet, Peter, and her husband’s best friend and OSS partner, Frank. As Helen delves deeper, she realizes all she thought to be true about her husband’s disappearance was a lie.

‘A Certain Summer’ has almost an epic feel to it, with a fantastic setting and very human characters, written about a time in history which scarred the entire world. It also contains many parts: history, mystery, romance, and the end of an innocent age. ‘A Certain Summer’ is Ms. Beard’s first novel and it will touch your heart. It reminded me in an odd way of ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ (don’t ask how my mind works!) and to me, by the end it felt like a novel of redemption and healing. Compelling characters really bring this book to life, my favorites being Max (the dog) and Peter (his handler). ‘A Certain Summer’ is a beautiful tale of the human condition.

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