Montauk, Long Island, 1938.
For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The MontaukManor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city.
College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.
As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.
Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…
Beatrice Boudreaux is a woman of privilege and class, status, a member of Society with that capital S. However, she married into that world of wealth and privilege and sprung from more humble beginnings in rural Pennsylvania. She struggles to find her place in a society that she is not entirely comfortable with, and would prefer curling up somewhere quiet with a book than big parties most of the time. When her husband gets wind of an investment opportunity in Montauk, he relocates Bea there for the summer season, joining her only on the weekends. Beatrice hopes that their summer will bring them closer together, as they have been drifting apart, partly because of the fact that they still remained childless after five years of marriage.
Bea is alone and lonely, with only the other society wives to be with during the week. She has a hard time connecting with their lifestyle and values and beliefs, and prefers time on her own at first, hiking off trail through the woods and reading in her room. But her husband expects her to befriend these women and fit in, so she does her best at forming connections. Her quick and curious mind though often separates her from her peers, as does her naivete, which I assume can be chalked up to her age and background. She slowly forges a friendship with Elizabeth, the laundress from the town, and becomes more and more involved with the lives of the locals, whose lives are not as glittering and shiny and filled with luxury, but are happy and simple, despite the hard work they do everyday. Beatrice begins to reexamine her own life, her own priorities, and has to choose what exactly it really is that she wants.
What I really loved about this book was the side by side comparisons of the lives of the people who share the same spot of land for a summer. The privilege set against those who are paid to do the things like their laundry, or transport a weeks worth of dirty diapers from Montauk all the way back to the city to be cleaned then sent back – that’s a 117 mile journey, one way. That reeks of entitlement – plus, gross all the way around. These society women at the Manor loved a cause, as long as the cause ultimately helped them too – like the woman who fundraised for animal welfare but also to get publicity for herself, and for the business she was starting of a dog hotel so that city people could bring their animals with them but then not have to do anything with them, like walk them, feed them, or even keep them in their own rooms. Beatrice’s husband is also a real piece of work, and a man of means and a man of those times as well. This reader didn’t care for him right off the bat!
I loved thinking of this wild island, with its hardworking village and natural beauty, slowly changing Beatrice’s perceptions of life. The rhythms of a life well lived, an authentic life, opened Beatrice’s eyes to the real world around her. She makes some mistakes and blunders, but we all do when we are first learning. Overall I really enjoyed this book, although the ending was a bit of a surprise.
Beautiful and enchanting, this is a definite must read for the summer, whether you are on the beach or in the woods or just on your own couch. I was enthralled in Bea’s journey and just the setting of Montauk itself. and definitely recommend this one!
It’s super easy! Just leave a comment below and your email address! I’ll pick a winner and send you the book. You don’t need a blog to enter, but you do need to live in the United States for this one. I’ll do another giveaway this summer that includes everyone! This giveaway ends June 8th, so it’s a quick one! Be sure to use the rafflecopter link too, that is how the winner will be chosen! The winner has been chosen – Linda E. you are the winner! I’ll be contacting you via email. (winner is also displayed on the rafflecopter link widget)
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the chance to read and review this book and for providing the giveaway copy! I received an advance copy of this book in exchange an honest review.