Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for his radiant novel in stories, Mary and O’Neil, Justin Cronin has already been hailed as a writer of astonishing gifts. Now Cronin’s new novel, The Summer Guest, fulfills that promise - and more. With a rare combination of emotional insight, narrative power, and lyrical grace, Cronin transforms the simple story of a dying man’s last wish into a rich tapestry of family love.
On an evening in late summer, the great financier Harry Wainwright, nearing the end of his life, arrives at a rustic fishing camp in a remote area of Maine. He comes bearing two things: his wish for a day of fishing in a place that has brought him solace for 30 years, and an astonishing bequest that will forever change the lives of those around him.
From the battlefields of Italy to the turbulence of the Vietnam era, to the private battles of love and family, The Summer Guest reveals the full history of this final pilgrimage and its meaning for four people: Jordan Patterson, the haunted young man who will guide Harry on his last voyage out; the camp’s owner, Joe Crosby, a Vietnam draft evader who has spent a lifetime "trying to learn what it means to be brave"; Joe’s wife, Lucy, the woman Harry has loved for three decades; and Joe and Lucy’s daughter, Kate - the spirited young woman who holds the key to the last unopened door to the past.
As their stories unfold, secrets are revealed, courage is tested, and the bonds of love are strengthened. And always center stage is the place itself - a magical, forgotten corner of New England where the longings of the human heart are mirrored in the wild beauty of the landscape.
Intimate, powerful, and profound, The Summer Guest reveals Justin Cronin as a storyteller of unique and marvelous talent. It is a book to treasure.
©2004 Justin Cronin (P)2013 Random House Audio
"Justin Cronin succeeds, touchingly and tenderly, in portraying life itself as a triumph of hope over experience." (The Boston Globe)
"The bedrock realities of family and place remain constant in spite of the vicissitudes of emotions and events, and the voices of these Mainers have a lovely calm that evokes the timeless summer place. ...the novel’s recognition of human frailty and nobility rings true, as does its faithful recreation of a place outside the storms of history." (Publishers Weekly)
There are some spoilers. Solid relationships need more than infatuation and lust. To last happily there need to be similar interests, fairly equal intellectual levels, and some class equality. While there are some exceptions in reality, this entire book is exceptions. We have the country bumpkin and the woman doctor; the millionaire and the waitress; the same millionaire with numerous wives who claims his real love is a lake; a lawyer/injured war veteran who drags a concert pianist up 8 miles of muddy roads in the middle of nowhere, to a cabin with no utilities, no food, and a collapsing roof in the dead of winter with a tiny baby. There is one couple who may have real love, but lack the courage to be honest and leave what is comfortable and therefore loose what could have been a good life together. But some people get off on self sacrifice.
Enjoyed how the book started and the performance was decent, particularly the Maine accents. Maybe there is a payoff at the end, but I found the middle so boring that I couldn't stick it out to get there.
I enjoyed this story. It is a well written love story that is real. It tell how life sometimes turns out different for all of us.
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