The High Season
Memorial Day Weekend heralds the beginning of the summer season, when the permanent residents of beachy places become inundated with the vacationers. Judy Blundell’s novel The High Season is set in one such place, the small town of Orient on Long Island’s North Fork. In order to live in their seaside house year-round, Ruthie Beamish and her family must vacate in the summer months and rent to New Yorkers escaping the city heat. Ruthie is used to ceding her space, but this summer is different—three women who are decidedly “have-nots” begin intermingling with the “haves,” and delightful chaos ensues.
Shelley Stone is a wife, mother, and CEO of a tech company that makes a Fitbit-like wearable—if Fitbits sat behind your ear and coached you through your day. Business-minded Shelley is all about efficiency in every area of her life; she schedules sex with her husband, she combines vacations with keynote speeches at global leadership conferences, and she squeezes in her workouts at the crack of dawn. Everything is humming along nicely, until she meets a woman who claims to be a younger version of herself, setting off a major glitch in Shelley’s over-orchestrated life. A fun skewering of technology, motherhood, and careers that will have you chuckling out loud. (Check out this excerpt!)
Lucy has been working on her dissertation on Sappho for over nine years when a devastating breakup with her boyfriend completely derails her. She flounders in Phoenix until her older sister summons her to Los Angeles to house-sit and dog-sit while she and her husband are away. Lucy’s time along Venice Beach does little to change her bad attitude—she drops out of her love addiction therapy group in favor of mindless Tinder dates—but when she meets a sexy swimmer while on the beach one night, her summer does a 180. She’s magnetically drawn to him, though when she learns the truth about his identity, everything shifts. Melissa Broder’s novel is an incredibly steamy blend of literary fiction, magical realism, and fantasy, and should be read immediately, ideally near a body of water.
Sometimes the greatest summer books take place over decades, not just one season. That’s the case with Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble, which follows the members of the Van Ness string quartet from their early 20s through their mid-40s. On first violin is Jana, driven and a bold leader; viola is played by Henry, a gifted musician with perfect pitch who can’t comprehend struggle; the second violin is played by Brit, a sweet young woman with hair of gold and dead parents; and Daniel, a brooding cynic, is the cellist. This character-driven novel unfolds as the quartet reaches the upper echelons of success, tastes the bitterness of failure, and manages to endure it all together.
Do This for Me
You’ve never seen a character enact such calculated revenge like Raney Moore when she discovers her husband has cheated. Raney’s a litigator accustomed to fighting in the courtroom, but when she learns about Aaron’s digressions, he finds himself in the crosshairs of her rage. It’s only after blowing up her entire life that she stops to think about what she’s doing. Eliza Kennedy’s off-kilter heroine will make you guffaw and cringe in equal measure, and this compulsively readable meditation on marriage will be gobbled up before the long weekend is over.
I don’t know about you, but I always mark the start of summer with the selection of the book I’m going to bring with me for the long Memorial Day weekend. For me, the ideal book is brand new and buzzy fiction that includes tongue-in-cheek satire, absorbing characters, summery settings, or a delightful combination of all three. Here are five delicious novels that hit just the right notes to start summer off in a very sweet way.
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