Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

I should have read A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams over the summer because it would have been a great beach read. (Or vacation read since I’m not a beach-goer.) But this historical love story set primarily in a vacation community (Seaview) on the beachfront of Rhode Island in the 1930s is enjoyable enough to read any time.

The protagonist is Lily Dane, a smart young woman from an elite family who has spent her life summering in Seaview. For most of her life, she had been best friends with Budgie Byrne–outgoing, wild, indulged, beautiful Budgie who makes Lily feel staid and bland in comparison. In 1931, while in college, on a date at a Dartmouth football game, Budgie introduces Lily to Nick Greenwald, a friend of her boyfriend. Lily has been forewarned about Nick–he’s Jewish. This doesn’t matter to Lily, though it will to her parents. For Nick and Lily, it’s love at first sight.

The novel flashes back and forth in alternating chapters between 1931 and 1938. A mystery of sorts is unfolding. Because while Nick and Lily’s college romance is rapidly progressing in 1931, leading to a forbidden engagement, seven years later it is Budgie and Nick who appear in Seaview as Mr. and Mrs. Greenwald, newlyweds. Lily is living with her all-but-absent mother and a six-and-a-half-year-old sister, Kiki.

The old-line Seaview community does its best to ostracize Nick and Budgie. Nick rarely bothers to make the commute from New York, but Budgie is determined to repair the damage to her friendship with Lily. Even after all this time, Lily is unable to break away from Budgie. Moreover, she is infuriated by the bigotry of those who would shun Nick. And so they slip into the cracks of her world.

This is a fun read. The clues to the various mysteries of the relationships are not too deeply hidden, so you can guess what the revelations are going to be. Nevertheless, the story barrels along to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

This is my 34th book read for the Historical Fiction Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry.


  1. I'm so glad to see that you picked this up-I loved reading it during the summer though it wasn't at the beach and it would be a great one to tote to the beach but also to read whenever one has a chance because it was so fun and engaging!

  2. Definitely recommended to those seeking a romantic and emotional "beach read" set against the backdrop of a tragic event in American history.
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