THE HIGH SEASON
Written by: Judy Blundell
Read by: Julia Whelan
10 Hours and 44 Minutes
PRHA | Random House Audio
Genre: Fiction – Women
Release Date: May 22, 2018
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The Hamptons hath no fury like a woman scorned.
No matter what the world throws her way, at least Ruthie Beamish has the house. Lovingly renovated, located by the sea in a quiet Long Island village, the house is her nest egg—the retirement account shared with her ex-husband, Mike, and the college fund for their teenage daughter, Jem. The catch? To afford the house, Ruthie must let it go during the best part of the year.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and Ruthie has packed up their belongings for what Jem calls “the summer bummer”: the family’s annual exodus to make way for renters. This year, the Hamptons set has arrived. The widow of a blue-chip artist, Adeline Clay is elegant, connected, and accompanied by a “gorgeous satellite” stepson. But soon Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie’s life—her house, her friends, even her husband (okay, ex-husband, but still). And after her job as the director of a local museum is threatened, Ruthie finally decides to fight back.
Meanwhile, away from the watchful eyes of her parents, Jem is tasting independence at her first summer job, but soon finds herself growing up too fast. One of Ruthie’s employees, a master of self-invention named Doe, infiltrates the inner circle of an eccentric billionaire and his wayward daughter. With a coterie of social climbers and Ruthie’s old flame thrown into the mix, the entire town finds itself on the verge of tumultuous change. By the end of one unhinged, unforgettable summer, nothing will be the same.
In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons—a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings.
There are so many aspects to this story: being accepted for oneself, learning what is really important, let go that it is time to give up, growing up, being decent. The two stories I like the most are Jem’s coming of age, and Doe’s re-invention of herself to actually be herself.
There is bad stuff, garrulous relationships, money problems, desperation, a bad man-child. :
But with Jem’s story, a fifteen year-old who thinks she is older than that. Gosh, does any young woman not have this happen? We want to put on lipstick too early, wear sexy clothes or make out with a guy way-y-y-y too old for us. Blundell does an amazing job drawing the mood swings and maturity imbalances Jem is going through. It’s pretty amazing how much that spoke to me and my experience. The point in Jem’s relationship with an older guy isn’t so much about her; it’s flattering to have the interest of a cool, rich and handsome man (even an immature one), this is about a guy being totally inappropriate with an underage girl. The story and understanding gets there eventually. Almost every teen has a tough relationship with his or her parent(s) holding them close or pushing them away.
The other story I really liked was Doe’s. She had a terrible childhood, and at first seems like a grifter. But, is she. She did what she had to do to survive. Survival can involve hard choices and she might, in the end to be more decent than her grifter past requires.
This story has more even than my favorite story lines. I was interested in the politics in the museum director aspect of the story. But these were enough to keep my interest and impress me. Julie Whelan offers a good voice and good emotive quality.