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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Beach at Summerly


Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld

HarperAudio

ISBN: 9780063020849

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 06/27/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

Beatriz returns with a ravishing summer read that transports readers back to a midcentury New England rich with secrets and Cold War intrigue.


"Grand and gripping...shot through with suspense, romance, and glorious, beach-laden locales. I could not put it down."--Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Mitford Affair


A ravishing summer read from New York Times bestseller Beatriz Williams, sweeping readers back to a mid-century New England rich with secrets and Cold War intrigue.


June 1946. As the residents of Winthrop Island prepare for the first summer season after the sacrifice of war, a glamorous new figure moves into the guest cottage at Summerly, the idyllic seaside estate of the wealthy Peabody family. To Emilia Winthrop, daughter of Summerly’s year-round caretaker and a descendant of the island’s settlers, Olive Rainsford opens a window into a world of shining possibility. While Emilia spent the war years caring for her incapacitated mother, Olive traveled the world, married fascinating men, and involved herself in political causes. She’s also the beloved aunt of the two surviving Peabody sons, Amory and Shep, with whom Emilia has a tangled romantic history.


As the summer wears on, Emilia develops a deep rapport with Olive, who urges her to leave the island for a life of adventure, while romance blossoms with the sturdy and honorable Shep. But the heady promise of Peabody patronage is blown apart by the arrival of Sumner Fox, an FBI agent who demands Emilia’s help to capture a Soviet agent who’s transmitting vital intelligence on the West’s atomic weapon program from somewhere inside the Summerly estate.


April 1954. Eight years later, Summerly is boarded up and Emilia has rebuilt her shattered life as a professor at Wellesley College, when shocking news arrives from Washington—the traitor she helped convict is about to be swapped for an American spy imprisoned in the Soviet Union, but with a mysterious condition only Emilia can fulfill. A reluctant Emilia is summoned to CIA headquarters, where she’s forced to confront the harrowing consequences of her actions that fateful summer, and a choice that could destroy the Peabody family—and Emilia’s chance for redemption—all over again.









My Review


Master storyteller Beatriz Williams returns to Winthrop Island (from 2018 The Southern Wives) with her latest, THE BEACH AT SUMMERLY—a summer sizzler historical fiction featuring two-time frames—a blend of a spy thriller, secrets, intrigue, mystery, and summer love.


Cold War. Hot Summer.


Set on an island off New England (Connecticut) following World War II the author alternates between 1946 and 1954, featuring Emilia “Cricket” Winthrop, whose family first laid claim to the island that now bears their name.


June 1946. The residents of Winthrop Island are preparing for the first summer after the war. The Beach at Summerly is a seaside estate of the wealthy Peabody family.


20 yr. old Emilia Winthrop is the daughter of the year-round caretaker. His employers are the Peabodys. She once dreamed of college but had to care for her mother after her stroke. Her father, maintains the Peabody family’s beachfront estate.


The wealthy Boston families come to Winthrop Island yearly from Memorial Day through the summer. Emilia and her brother, Eli always enjoyed the summer at the beach playing with the Peabody boys — Arthur, Amory, and Shep, even though the two families are of different classes.


Her brother and Authur died in the war. The Peabodys return to Winthrop for the first summer after the war. Emilia and Shep have stayed in touch through letters over the years and are now much more than friends.


In the guest cottage comes a mysterious Peabody relative, Aunt Olive Rainsford. She has been traveling and involved in political affairs. Emilia becomes entangled with Olive, intrigued. She is the aunt of the two surviving Peabody sons, Amory and Shep. Cricket looks up to Olive as a mentor, but little does she know what lies ahead.


Emilia develops a friendship with Olive, who urges her to leave the island for a life of adventure. Olive offers Cricket a job caring for her children in the evenings, while she does some writing in the attic. Olive is everything Emilia has imagined, free-spirited, and educated.


A man named Sumner Fox comes to the island and claims to be writing a book that needs Emilia's help. As part of her day job as a librarian, to research material for him. However, she later learns he is an FBI agent and needs her help to expose a Soviet spy on the island.


Flash forward eight years later:


April 1954. Summerly is boarded up, her dad has passed, and Emilia has rebuilt her shattered life as a professor at Wellesley College when shocking news arrives from Washington—the traitor she helped convict is about to be swapped for an American spy imprisoned in the Soviet Union, but with a mysterious condition, only Emilia can fulfill.


She is summoned to CIA headquarters, where she’s forced to confront the brutal consequences of her actions that fateful summer (and the fallout of the two families)—a choice that could destroy the Peabody family—and Emilia’s chance for redemption, once again.


Wow! There is a lot going on. Totally Engrossing! This is definitely a book to take to the beach, but you may never look up at the ocean captivated by Emilia and the summer of 1946! A favorite.


A story of two very strong, passionate and intelligent women. The author has created well-developed characters and I especially adored Emilia (Cricket)'s character.


Inspired by actual episodes from the Cold War, the author masterfully creates THE BEACH AT SUMMERLY crossing several genres from espionage, spy, suspense, romance, family drama historical, beach read, and literary full of action, mystery, and intrigue.


THE BEACH AT SUMMERLY can be read as a standalone; however, fans of OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW (1940/1948) will enjoy Sumner Fox that re-appears in this one, and THE SUMMER WIVES also set on Winthrop Island (1951/1969).


The fascinating novel offers a little of everything to please a wide variety of readers: From class, privilege, romance, humor, political ideology, life after WWII, the haves/have nots (New England society), Soviet spy ring, idyllic coastal setting, and dark family secrets.


Nostalgic, the novel will leave you longing for past summers at the coast. Another winner by Beatriz Williams and a stunning front cover. Highly recommend!



@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: June 26, 2023

My Rating: 5 Stars









Praise


"Grand and gripping...shot through with suspense, romance, and glorious, beach-laden locales. I could not put it down."

— Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Mitford Affair


“The Summer Wives is an exquisitely rendered novel that tackles two of my favorite topics: love and money. The glorious setting and drama are enriched by Williams’s signature vintage touch. It’s at the top of my picks for the beach this summer.”

— Elin Hilderbrand


“Williams has crafted a kaleidoscope of a novel—a mystery, a romance, and an utterly beguiling examination of the cost of secrets . . . The Summer Wives is a startling portrait of the courage it requires to make your own second chances.”

— Entertainment Weekly


"Beatriz Williams's vivid historical novel alternates with measured suspense between present and past."

— Booklist


“[A] satisfying simmer of a read.”

— USA Today on The Summer Wives


“Engrossing and gripping, you will finish this book in one sitting.”

— St. Louis Post Dispatch on The Summer Wives


“Satisfyingly tempestuous—and eminently beachworthy.”

— Kirkus (starred review) on The Summer Wives






About the Author



Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Our Woman in Moscow, The Summer Wives, Her Last Flight, The Golden Hour, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, and several other works of historical fiction, including four novels in collaboration with fellow bestselling authors Karen White and Lauren Willig.


A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before her first novel was published in 2012. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.


Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

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