The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner, 4 Stars

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.

Advanced Praise for The Summer Place:

“[A] funny, tender read. A new novel from Weiner heralds the start of beach reading season, so prepare your collections accordingly.” Booklist (starred review)

“Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition…even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family…[a] poignant look at family bonds.” —Kirkus

“A family’s secrets and entanglements flare up during a Cape Cod wedding in this first-rate page-turner from Weiner. [She] is a master of emotionally complicated narratives, and her smart and witty writing is on full display here. This engrossing novel will please her legions of fans.” —Publishers Weekly

“From steamy affairs to juicy family secrets, bestselling author Jennifer Weiner’s scintillating beach read has it all.” —Apple Books

My Review:

Talk about a modern family! When we meet Sarah, she has some issues with her marriage. And she’s upset that her stepdaughter has gotten engaged so young to someone that doesn’t seem like her best match. Weiner strikes a comfortable tone writing about this family and I found myself really enjoying the ride through all the wedding planning and family logistics.

But oh the drama! Sarah’s husband drifts farther and farther away for no real reason she can see, there are issues with the soon to be inlaws (big ones!), Sam, Sarah’s brother is also hiding a secret, and it’s all set against the idyllic summer backdrop of the Cape.

The Summer Place really plays out in the best possible way like a Shakespearean comedy. It’s the perfect beach or vacation read when you want something light, but juicy! Special thanks to Netgalley and Atria books for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

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