By: Beatriz Williams
Published: May 30, 2013
A HUNDRED SUMMERS tells the story of two friends, Budgie and Lily. They have grown up spending their summers together on Seaview, a oceanfront community in Rhode Island. The book begins in 1931 while the two are in college and meet two dashing football players, Nick and Graham. What happens between the four of them that year and the years ahead is what is the premise of the story. There are secrets, betrayals, and long-held beliefs that will change Lily and Budgie's friendship forever.
The book begins with Budgie and Lily attending a football game. Budgie is there to see Graham Pendleton and is hoping to introduce sweet, quiet Lily to the quarterback, Nick Greenwald, who just happens to be Jewish. Lily is smitten and their weekend together has them both head over heels in love. Then we suddenly jump to 1938, with Lily, her 6 year old sister, Kiki, their mother, and Aunt Julie settling into their beach house for the summer. At a gathering, Lily finds out that Budgie and her husband, Nick Greenwald are coming for the summer to restore her family beach home. So, at this point, the reader is obviously shocked because you are wondering how did Nick and Budgie end up marrying each other when Nick and Lily were so in love. You also find out that Lily and Budgie haven't spoken in the last 7 years. As Budgie works her way back into Lily's life, she also brings back an old friend, Graham Pendleton, to stir up their summer.
As each chapter tells the story, you flip back and forth between 1931 and 1938. The author is wise in her telling, revealing just enough from each timeline to keep you guessing and turning the pages. You will have suspicions, predictions, and absolute angry moments as the story is revealed to you. Lily is well loved by all and you find out she has been alone all these years with a deep pain in her heart, blaming herself for the past. As you read, the truth of the past is revealed to you right along with Lily and you feel her anger, shock, pain and heartache.
As if there wasn't enough drama in the book, the final chapters end with a hurricane that slams into Seaview, similar to the New England hurricane that hit in 1938. The author took great care in the details of these events and shared similar (yet fictional) accounts of the true details of the hurricane and it's devastating aftermath.
This is a book easily read in a weekend. The chapters flow quickly and once the story begins you won't want to put it down. Even though this is a perfect "beach read" since the setting is in an ocean community, it would also be the perfect read to warm you up as the winter storms are raging outside. I bought this book as a birthday gift for my cousin and also purchased it for myself so we could read it together. This would make for a great gift book for birthdays or holidays for someone you know who loves to read.
A HUNDRED SUMMERS would also make for a great book club selection as there are many topics to discuss. Budgie's actions in the book will cause many frustrating moments as you read and will give you plenty to talk about. The time frame, location, and decisions made by each of the characters could be questioned and talked over for hours. Don't let the idea of this book being a "beach read" fool you. This book is full of rich detail, characters full of personality, and consuming drama and suspense.
Lily is a character you will want to root for and even though not everything works out as it should, you hope everything works out for Lily in the end. You will just have to read it to find out!
Beatriz Williams is the author of OVERSEAS and A HUNDRED SUMMERS. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Columbia and worked in the corporate world before becoming an author. She now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children. Her time is divided between writing and laundry. For more on Beatriz Williams check out her website, HERE. You can also "Like" her on Facebook, HERE or follow her on Twitter, HERE.