In 1960, Billie Valentine is a young housewife living in a sleepy Massachusetts suburb, treading water in a dull marriage and caring for two adopted daughters. Summers spent with the girls at their lakeside camp in Vermont are her one escape - from her husband's demands, from days consumed by household drudgery, and from the nagging suspicion that life was supposed to hold something different.
Then a new family moves in across the street. Ted and Eva Wilson have three children and a fourth on the way, and their arrival reignites long-buried feelings in Billie. The affair that follows offers a solace Billie has never known, until her secret is revealed and both families are wrenched apart in the tragic aftermath.
Fifty years later, Ted and Eva's son, Johnny, contacts an elderly but still spry Billie, entreating her to return east to meet with him. Once there, Billie finally learns the surprising truth about what was lost, and what still remains, of those joyful, momentous summers.
In this deeply tender novel, T. Greenwood weaves deftly between the past and present to create a poignant and wonderfully moving story of friendship, the resonance of memories, and the love that keeps us afloat.
©2013 T. Greenwood (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"Complex and compelling." (Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters)
Life's good when I am listening to a great book.
I don't want to spoil this book for anyone so will write an oblique review without a spoiler. As a female reader interested in issues of psychology, society and storyline, I found it interesting in its exploration of the tragedy of the White middle-class "housewife" of the 50's in the United States; especially as it pertains to the many secrets and facades required in those times of strict role requirements for men and women. Many issues were explored and the characters were well developed. The book felt anti-climactic as it moved towards the end but, overall, this book was well written and engaging. The reader did a beautiful job with the voices and, in that sense, it was a pleasure to listen to.
Just one caveat here: in spite of my occasional frustration at the overused literary device of postponing for the reader a "big event" you know is coming, and filling in with meandering, anecdotal back stories, I loved this story and connected instantly with the issues facing that marginal generation of women who came of age in the 1960's. Torn between family and meaningful personal vocation, we all knew we should be doing something besides making dinner and babies, but what?? Yes, we were all college graduates, but that only seemed to complicate our situations.
However, that's simply the backdrop of this novel, which alternates between two time periods in the life of one woman, who finds herself caught up in a sensitive web of love, affection and commitment, through various breakups, re-starts, and her partner's escapes from a violent, controlling spouse. It's an at-the-time unconventional relationship that would sentence the participants to "disgrace", rejection and isolation from their peers.
I have become a T. Greenwood fan, and she is now my "go to" author when I have exhausted what's current from a Jodi Picoult or Elizabeth Berg, Sue Miller, and others in this genre.
I only have one minor bone to pick - at times I felt like a hostage, waiting for a key plot point to "happen", and wading through pages (minutes, hours) of not-so-interesting or relevant back story.
T. Greenwood is now on my short list. I've already read "The Hungry Season", which is a tighter, more compact family drama, and my review will come soon.
A full five stars!
love to read all sorts of books...exception sci-fi! I prefer books that are not horror-type stories...but there are exceptions to that too!
This was a compelling saga of women locked in the stereotypical lives of women during the 50s. These two women were lesbian Ina time when there was no understanding a very little tolerance of this issue. This book recasts their struggles and life changes that occurred and the heartbreak and shattering of two families caught in the drama
The writing style of the author was very heartfelt and took the reader through the emotion in a very compelling read
She utilized several voices to denote each character in the story
The ending was particularly emotionally drought
Though very sad, this book describes very accurately what these events must have been like in that period of America. Very accurately written and very poignantly done
I grew up in the 1950's in a town near Boston, so can understand at some level how tough it must have been to have a gay relationship in that time and place. I am male and straight, but as a 15 year old at that time was approached on various occasions by gay males both older than and the same age as me. I did not understand what was going on and the only explanation I ever received was that these individuals were "queer" and vaguely dangerous. "Gay" in those days for me and my peers was an alien concept.
Interesting though the main theme of the story may have been, it wasn't enough to overcome the fact that I simply do not enjoy reading about gay relationships. Had the summary of the book mentioned that a gay relationship was involved, I would not have bought the book. But the summary did not mention this, so I felt blindsided.
Having said this, I have no criticism of the book itself. Like opera, I can appreciate quality in its own right, but it is something to which I do not enjoy listening. The author's exploration of her central theme, her character development and her story line were all well done. So, I admire her work. I just don't enjoy opera.
The summary of this novel tells the story well. My review is to try to put into words how wonderful, sad, uplifting, tragic and ultimately moving end to this story and how it held me spellbound for many days.
There are some books where the story and narration are so perfect that you just can't wait to listen to them. This is one of those stories.
From the very beginning when the descriptions are given of characters it is done with such care that I immediately fell in love or disgust depending on whose story was being told.
This novel will go into my library on my shelf titled "Comfort Books".
For me this is a story of love, true friendship, pure and simple, although in the course of all our lives nothing is ever simple.
This story gives to you a gift in the telling, open it.
Probably not. The characters were well developed, but I didn't find any of them sympathetic. This authors view of the world is just too different from my own.
The pronunciation of the narrator seemed very unnatural to me, Perhaps it's an accent from a part of the country that I'm not familiar with. Still, I found myself mimicking words she had said all the way through the book. I was constantly thinking, "really?" as one word would be pronounced in a flat midwestern style and the next in faux London English. I've gotten used to various voices that I initially found irritating and by halfway through the book didn't know what had rubbed me the wrong way. This one grated right til the end.
not revolving around Gay relationships, Have nothing in common with charecters.
did not realize it was about two gay women.
I liked the book very much. Very realistic for the time era. Just don't enjoy reading about gay couples
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