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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Edge of Summer

ISBN: 978-1525804816

Publisher: Graydon House

Publication Date: 07/12/2022

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars +++ (ARC)

Bestselling author Viola Shipman delights with this captivating summertime escape set along the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan, where a woman searches for clues to her secretive mother's past

Devastated by the sudden death of her mother—a quiet, loving and intensely private Southern seamstress called Miss Mabel, who overflowed with pearls of Ozarks wisdom but never spoke of her own family—Sutton Douglas makes the impulsive decision to pack up and head north to the Michigan resort town where she believes she’ll find answers to the lifelong questions she’s had about not only her mother’s past but also her own place in the world.

Recalling Miss Mabel’s sewing notions that were her childhood toys, Sutton buys a collection of buttons at an estate sale from Bonnie Lyons, the imposing matriarch of the lakeside community. Propelled by a handful of trinkets left behind by her mother and glimpses into the history of the magical lakeshore town, Sutton becomes tantalized by the possibility that Bonnie is the grandmother she never knew. But is she? As Sutton cautiously befriends Bonnie and is taken into her confidence, she begins to uncover the secrets about her family that Miss Mabel so carefully hid, and about the role that Sutton herself unwittingly played in it all.

FOX 17 TV MORNING NEWS: MI native author Wade Rouse talks about his new book, "The Edge of Summer"


“The minute I finished The Clover Girls, I ordered copies for all my friends. It’s that good.” Kristy Woodson Harvey, New York Times bestselling author.

Letter from the Author

Dear Reader:

My new summer novel, The Edge of Summer, is a deeply personal story, woven from beautiful memories of my childhood. The novel is inspired by my grandma’s buttons and button jars. I grew up in grandmas’ sewing rooms, playing with those buttons as they sat behind their Singers making my school clothes or turning scraps into beautiful quilts. These small moments changed my life and perspective on life profoundly.

My Grandma Shipman (Viola, my pen name) stitched overalls at a local factory until she couldn’t stand straight. And my Grandma Rouse was also an accomplished seamstress. But even after sewing all day for work, nothing brought them more joy than finding the perfect pattern or creating their own designs and taking a seat at their Singers. It represented one of the first times in my life I was able to witness in real time what happens when talent meets inspiration.

My grandmothers both had Singer sewing machines, and I thought they were the most beautiful things in the world: Black with a beautiful gold inlay pattern atop the original, old treadle oak cabinet, glowing with a rich patina. Moreover, they had jars and tins – even old Crayola boxes – filled with beautiful buttons that lined their cabinets and shelves. I still have many of them to this day. As I write in The Edge of Summer, Miss Mabel tells her daughter, Sutton, the following, inspired by my grandmas’ own words to me:

“Look at these beautiful buttons. So many buttons in my jars: Fabric, shell, glass, metal, ceramic. All forgotten. All with a story. All from someone and somewhere. People don’t give a whit about buttons anymore, but I do. They hold value, these things that just get tossed aside. Buttons are still the one thing that not only hold a garment together but also make it truly unique. Lots of beauty and secrets in buttons if you just look long and hard enough.”

My grandmothers were like ballerinas at their Singers, their bodies in motion and in tune with the machine. It was a gorgeous dance to watch. They were also the first “artists” I ever knew, though they were never called that and would turn red today at the mere utterance of such a fancy word. But they taught me to create. To take pride in what I created. To continue perfecting my talent.

The Edge of Summer is inspired by these memories. It’s also inspired by the thoughts that spun in my head as I watched them sew, especially as I grew older: What were my grandmas like before they were my grandmas? Did I know everything about them? Where did this love of – and great skill for – sewing come from? And, although I knew of their sacrifices, I wondered how much they truly had to sacrifice – and maybe even hide – in order to get here, right now, happy and sewing in a home with their grandchild watching them work?

Like Miss Mabel in The Edge of Summer, my grandmothers overcame so much in their childhoods. But I know it didn’t come easy. It never does. In today’s age, we have so much information at our fingertips. We seek out our ancestry. We search to find who we were. We want to know how our families came to be. My grandma used to say, “We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from where we came.” We seek that more than ever these days.

As with every novel I write, The Edge of Summer seeks to answer an important question. In this novel, it is this: Why do we too easily and too often go in search of shinier luxuries and people— things we believe will fill our lives with more happiness and importance—when true worth already lies inside and in front of us if we are just capable of opening our eyes and hearts enough to see it?

The Edge of Summer is a timely reminder of the beauty of family, faith, finding your own strength and coming home.

I wrote this novel to remind readers that families are not perfect. They never will be. But – if we were blessed to be loved by our families, as flawed as it may have been, and even if our parents were not who we wished they had been or the love they gave was not as much or as demonstrative as we would have liked – we were still blessed to be loved. At its heart, this novel seeks to ask if we should be thankful for those sacrifices and if maybe, just maybe, that love is enough for us to stitch together a beautiful life and a future.

I truly hope you love The Edge of Summer. And I’m so excited my new holiday/winter novel, A Wish for Winter, will publish this fall! All my best for a beautiful, blessed summer! XOXO!

My Review


Shipman's best yet. Prime for the small or big screen.

Master storyteller and my favorite bestselling author Viola Shipman beautifully renders an utterly captivating, and profoundly personal tale inspired by memories of the author's childhood and his grandmother's treasured buttons and button jars.

THE EDGE OF SUMMER is everything you want in a summer beach read from nostalgia, family heirlooms and connections, past dark secrets, new adventures in an idyllic lakeside town, suspense, mystery, and a little romance.

No one captures matters of the heart better than Viola Shipman!

Alternating from the remote Ozark, a small cabin where Sutton Douglas grew up with her hardworking but secretive mother, Miss Mabel —to the pristine Lake Michigan resort town where she is led by clues to discover the secrets of her past.

Sutton Douglas grew up in the Ozarks in a small cabin tucked amongst the bluffs outside Nevermore, Missouri, with a single mother, Miss Mabel. They did not have much, but they loved one another.

Her mother lived in solitude and sacrificed her whole life to improve her life and make it better. Miss Mabel was hardworking and very secretive. She was a skilled seamstress, and everyone loved her. She loved her Singer sewing machine, Ol'Betsy, God, her fabrics, and her buttons. She also taught Sutton the craft.

Miss Mabel was a good woman, strong, and unyielding. Society did not always treat her fairly, hidden in a factory all day, plus sewing for wealthy women and helping take care of their children to make ends meet.

Sutton has always been curious about her past, her father, and her mother's past life. She led her to believe there was a fire, and nothing was saved but Sutton and her teddy bear, Dandy.

The pandemic hits, and her mother dies of COVID. She was not able to be with her as she planned, nor was she able to fulfill her mother's wishes for a proper burial and funeral. (this rings all so true). She leaves her with her buttons, her Singer, her sewing notions, and a letter.

Devastated, Sutton is grief-stricken and at loss, desiring to know more about where she came from and her mother. Before she can move forward she must learn about her past. Sutton is a top designer and fashion director for all women's apparel at Lindy's, one of the nation's oldest department stores. She made 1940s fashion trendy at Sutton's Buttons.

When going through her mom's things, she finds a clue that leads her to Lake Michigan. Her mom also leaves her a letter upon her death, informing her she was trying to protect her and the fire story was made up.

Confused and shocked, Sutton decides to take some time off, sublet her condo and rent a cottage in the charming little lakeside community.

What does Dandy Button Company have to do with her mom? Michigan was the button capital. Sutton begins her search.

When arriving in the beautiful small historic town she finds quaint shops, restaurants, inns, and of course a fabric store. There she meets the owner, a former baseball player which is a great help to guide her and turns out to be a true friend with a lot in common.

She soon learns her cottage in Douglas, Michigan is behind a mansion where a woman named Bonnie Lyons lives. She appears to be the wealthy matriarch of the town and her husband had passed recently. They were owners of the button company.

Soon Bonnie befriends Sutton and wants her to design her clothes. The woman is quite controlling and manipulative. Does she have a hidden agenda?

Sutton also meets her maid. Both these women are quite mysterious, and Sutton does not feel comfortable around her. They are hiding something. She feels there is something more. She has had enough of secrets and begins her sleuthing.

In doing so, she second-guesses her own life, her career, and what is important to her. She must solve her mother's past and at the same time her own identity. She begins to uncover the secrets about her family that Miss Mabel so carefully hid and about the role that Sutton herself unwittingly played in it all.

Now, that she is getting close to the truth, will it be something that she can live with. Was her mother right all along by keeping quiet?

I LOVED THIS BOOK and read it over the weekend! Unputdownable and the suspense will keep you glued to the pages to the final satisfying conclusion. You are even sad when it ends as the characters are too good.

Yes, it touched my heart and soul in so many ways. My own mother and grandmothers were skilled seamstresses and I was around sewing most of my life. I even learned the skill, but not as highly skilled as my mom (who did this as a career and more). I later became an interior designer so fabrics and design were always a part of my life. My mom would have loved this book (she was also an avid reader).

I adored the opening of each chapter with sewing notions and sprinklings! Brought back so many fond memories.

What I enjoy about Viola Shipman's books (so many things) but his vivid descriptions and settings are like no other. I can travel anywhere from the comfort of my home when reading one of (his/her) books. When I did travel it was to places like he uses as settings. It draws me in as if I were sitting there dining in the garden, the lush flowers, weather, quaint buildings, towns, decor, and the delicious food, desserts, and wine. And the lovely people. I want to get on a plane and visit now! This setting is divine.

An ideal book club pick, thought-provoking, and a tribute and love letter to the town of Saugatuck/Douglas and also to our mothers, grandmothers, elders, and the love of sewing. It also explores the sacrifices our parents and grandparents make for us. Often times as youth we do not appreciate them. Then as adults, they are dead and gone before we realize this and never thanked them. Time is precious. Appreciate them why you have a chance and ask them about their life.

I have read all of Viola Shipman's books and loved each one, but this is my personal FAVORITE!

Poignant, heartwarming, emotional, and awe-inspiring! Thank you for writing this book. You have a rare gift and so happy you pursued your dreams. You were born to write this story and your grandmother would be so proud!

I am currently reading/listening to Wade's memoir Magic Season: A Son's Story narrated by the author, which I am devouring. The book sheds a lot about his life and the importance of family and especially his grandmothers and the impact on his life.

A Top Book of 2022! In fact, this is my 127th book (2022 thus far --it is July 11) and this one will be in my Top 5 books for the first half of 2022. Highly recommend!

For fans of Kristy Woodson Harvey, Mary Alice Monroe, and Mary Ellen Taylor. If you enjoyed THE EDGE OF SUMMER, check out Mary Ellen Taylor's recent The Brighter the Light. A granddaughter in search of her mother and grandmother's secret past.

A special thank you to #GraydonHouse and #NetGalley for an ARC to read, review, and enjoy. I also pre-ordered the hardcover for my personal home library.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars +++ 💙💙💙💙💙

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

Check out Writer in Residence "World-renowned author Viola Shipman, pen name for Wade Rouse, calls Saugatuck/Douglas home in the summer months. Discover why the magic of this lakeshore community draws him back each year and even inspired the setting of his latest novel, The Edge of Summer."

About the Author

WADE ROUSE is the internationally bestselling author of nine books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose

his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction.

Wade’s novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope Chest; and The Recipe Box. NYT bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank says of Wade and his latest novel, The Summer Cottage: “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters. Viola Shipman is that voice and The Summer Cottage is that novel.”

Library Journal writes that Wade has “hit upon the perfect formula to tell heartwarming, inter-generational family stories by weaving together the lives, loves and history of family through cherished heirlooms.” He recently signed a three-book book deal with HarperCollins. His next novel, The Heirloom Garden, will publish in April 2020.

Wade’s books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the Washington Post, USA Today and on Chelsea Lately and have also been chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers.

His writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, Taste of Home, Country Woman, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly.

Also a noted humorist of four memoirs, Wade was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards in Humor (he lost to Tina Fey) and was named by Writer’s Digest as “The #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, We’d Like to Have Drinks With” (Wade was sandwiched between Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson).

Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors. WEBSITE


My novels are a tribute to my Ozarks grandma, Viola Shipman. The jangling of her charm bracelet was as ever-present as the call of the whippoorwill, the scent of her hope chest as vivid as cedars after a spring rain, and her burnished wood recipe box stuffed with family recipes that still make my mouth water.

Her heirlooms, life, lessons and love not only inspire my fiction but also inspired me to become a writer and, I hope, the person I am today. She taught me that the simplest things in life – family, friends, faith, fun, love, and a passion for what you do – are truly the grandest gifts. My fiction is meant to honor the elders in our lives whose sacrifices and journeys helped make us who we are today. I couldn’t be prouder of my novels, which I hope reconnect you to your own family’s stories, heirlooms, histories and traditions.


For more about the author, please visit Wade Rouse’s official website.







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