The Summer Wives: Book summary and reviews of The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

The Summer Wives

by Beatriz Williams

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams X
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Jul 10, 2018
    384 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season - an electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power, and redemption set among the inhabitants of an island off the New England coast ...

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda's catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda's new stepsister - all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion - is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the island's patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel's privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he's determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph's enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda's caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop's hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same - determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda's stepfather eighteen years earlier. What's more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved ... even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. With just the right touch of bitters, Williams (Cocoa Beach, 2017, etc.) mixes a satisfyingly tempestuous - and eminently beachworthy - follow-up to her beloved Schuyler Sisters series." - Kirkus

"The writing is precise and descriptive, and reading The Summer Wives is like watching a film, complete with love and drama to be envied, bemoaned, and enjoyed." - Booklist

"Longtime Williams fans, readers of historical fiction and mysteries, and anyone seeking engaging plot twists will find satisfaction in these pages." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Mary B. (Laguna Woods, CA)

Escape to Summer Island
This book is an enjoyable read about the haves and have-nots on an island off of Long Island. The wealthy summer residents spend most of their time drunk and the year round poor residents work hard & are not appreciated by the summer visitors.


I loved this book!
This was the first book I have read by this author. I have read good reviews of this author's other books so I was excited to receive this ARC. I loved this book. I enjoyed the story and the writing style. The descriptions were vivid and I almost felt like I was on the beach with the characters I will definitely recommend this book to my friends.

Chris (CA)

Summer Wives
The story grabbed me from the beginning and I didn't want to stop reading. It is well written. Alternating between time periods and social classes helped build the suspense of the novel. What is the back story of these characters? What secrets are they hiding? I enjoyed reading about the summer lives of the wealthy. Are all island resort communities like this? The descriptions were so good that I felt as though I were there. I felt I got to know the characters fairly well. I cared about several of them and just felt sorry for others. I did think the story dragged a little toward the end and then the pace picked up again. There is much to discus here for book clubs. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Tracey S.

Loved this book!
I really loved this book! I had never read anything by Beatriz Williams and I want to read all that she has written. I like reading about families that vacation somewhere year after year and those who remain year-round, like Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, for example and how the locals treat the vacationers. I was hooked from the beginning with wondering why Miranda has returned to the island. But I was a little confused at first because the book jumped from time period to another. But eventually I kept it all straight and enjoyed the book and all it's characters.

Shannon L. (Portland, OR)

Summer Wives is a great read!
This was my introduction to Beatriz Williams and I will read her again. While I have mixed thoughts about this book I will start by saying I enjoyed it very much. The book has a book that has everything from love to angst, genteel versus real down-home folks, secrets, murder and redemption and Williams manages to pull it off!

My number one rule in reviewing a novel is there has to be at least one character that I care about and in Summer Wives that was easy. Where I was disappointed is that I wanted just a little more depth in her main characters. I found them, especially the upper society, a little too shallow and wanted more.

That said, the settings were beautifully written and I could picture them even though I have never been in one of these communities. I wanted to go visit....The story line had me right there most of the time but it began to drag towards the end. The predictability left me wondering if Williams was trying to suggest more mystery than she had created or she really didn't know how to finish it.

Beatriz Williams is a great story-teller. I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who just wanted to be entertained with a good story and didn't need award winning depth. Thank you Beatriz...I am ready for your next story.

Sharon R. (Deerfield, IL)

First Love/Summer Love
First loves, enduring love and family love all play a part in this spectacular novel. Alternating between social and economic classes, Ms. Williams invites us into the world of privilege and societal nuances during the 1930s off the eastern coast of America. Our heroine, Miranda, has just been exposed to the wealthy through the marriage of her mother into one of the areas most wealthy and influential families. Miranda wants to "fit in" as all girls her age do, but her educational background make it difficult for her to separate the "classes" that society as imposed upon the East Coast elite. Her father had taught her that everyone is equal, but this is clearly not the case in her stepfather's world.

She struggles with wanting to be accepted by her peers and new stepsister and with the morality that she has grown up with.

I had an extremely hard time putting this book down to carry on with "life". I encourage you to find your "beach" and curl up for the day to devour this book. If you, like me, have read all of Ms. Williams novels you will find yourself asking "When is the next one coming out?"
Bravo, Beatriz, Bravo!

...35 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Beatriz Williams Author Biography

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons.

She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Link to Beatriz Williams's Website

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