Tag Archives: Marriage

Review: The Summer Demands

The Summer Demands

The Summer Demands
By Deborah Shapiro
Catapult, 9781948226301, June 2019, 224pp.

The Short of It:

Gave me all the feels of The Big Chill but with a smaller cast of characters.

The Rest of It:

On the verge of her fortieth birthday, Emily inherits an abandoned summer camp from her aunt. She and her husband move there, with the hopes of transforming it into an artist colony. The old, main house is full of charm and memories but the rest of the camp is in need of repair. They both realize it will take quite a bit of resources to get it to where it needs to be. What they don’t immediately realize though is that they already have their first guest.

I really enjoyed The Summer Demands. Emily and her husband are in a good place. Even though she is without a job and trying to find her way again after suffering a miscarriage, Emily is hopeful if not a little lost. But when she stumbles upon Stella, a twenty-something who is essentially squatting on their property, her first reaction is to help her, not oust her and she holds that secret for a little while before telling her husband.

It’s these moments between Stella and Emily that cause so much tension. Female friendships and intimacy, envy, jealousy and longing. Emily is a tad infatuated with Stella but when Stella meets Emily’s husband, Emily notices that everyone she meets is kind of infatuated with Stella. It’s just who she is.

Emily and Stella loll around the camp, swimming, watching movies, and soaking up the sun but as a reader you just know that this idyllic summer must end eventually, and it does. I loved the easiness of this novel. I loved the complexities of female friendships displayed here and I liked how the author explored things without making you feel too strongly about any one thing.

Plus, the setting was great. The lake and the sunlight filtering through the trees. It’s all so palpable. I really enjoyed The Summer Demands but it definitely falls into the “quiet novel” category which I enjoy very much.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Henry, Himself

Henry, Himself
By Stewart O’Nan
Viking, 9780735223042, April 9, 2019, 384pp.

The Short of It:

Thoroughly enjoyed visiting with these characters again.

The Rest of It:

There are three books about the Maxwell family:

Wish You Were Here
Emily, Alone
and lastly, Henry, Himself

In the first book, we already know of Henry’s passing and witnessed its effect on the family he left behind. In the second book, we focus on Emily, Henry’s wife and how everything has changed and how she suddenly finds herself on her own. In Henry, Himself, we go back to Henry’s last time at the lake house, before Wish You Were Here.

Are you still with me?

In Henry, Himself, O’Nan makes it clear that Henry’s days are numbered which adds a layer of sadness to the story. In fact, even Henry is aware that the day is coming.

What you should know about these books is that they are day-in-the-life type reads. Henry and Emily go about their days making sandwiches, painting window trimming, taking Rufus for a walk. When a holiday weekend comes up, they pack it up and head for their house on Lake Chautauqua and all their adult kids and their kids descend upon the place for a few days. As with any family, there are family struggles to deal with and nothing brings them out like togetherness.

I have to tell you, even though there isn’t a lot of action to speak of, I adore these books. There is something comforting about routine. The whole process of packing up one house to go to your lake house and vice versa is so soothing. I’m not even sure why. Henry’s willingness to be the “yes” guy to all of Emily’s requests, although sometimes grudgingly, is sweet. But aging can be a beast too and O’Nan reminds us of that.

In summary, all of the books together tell the story of a family that has been through  many challenges but somehow manages to always come together when they need to. I’ve loved all of the books in this series and I have hope that Rufus (the dog) will get his own book soon.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.