With a title like Summer House: A Novel, this book could be just an ordinary beach read. But Nancy Thayer has transformed this story from light to deep in her multi-layered family drama.
The Wheelwrights of Boston, with an ancestral summer home on Nantucket, have traditions and a legacy; many who have married into the family have striven to live up to both with some difficulty. From the current matriarch Anne (Nona) down to the contemporary Wheelwrights, there are expectations and disappointments aplenty. And the bank that has sustained the family and employs family members is an institution in and of itself.
We follow the family members as they move from Boston to Nantucket and back again over the summer months. Interspersed within these pages is Anne’s story, alternating with the current family saga; gradually we come to learn about secrets and betrayal that will impact the family for years to come.
Worth and Grace are the children of Anne and Herb (who is deceased); they compete and struggle to live up to the family traditions. Grace’s husband Kellogg works in the bank, along with Worth. However, Worth’s children have all declined to join in this family business, and Helen, Worth’s wife, supports their children’s individuality. Worth has more difficulty with their children’s decisions.
In the months leading up to the summer highlighted in this book, Helen discovers a secret of Worth’s that has the potential to unravel their marriage and their lives.
Meanwhile, Worth and Helen’s daughter Charlotte has been living with Nona on the island, developing her environmentally friendly garden and selling the goods to the islanders. Son Oliver is planning to marry his partner Owen, and just as summer begins, son Teddy—alcoholic/drug abusing troubled son—shows up with a pregnant Suzette.
Everyone is poised for drama as the months unfold.
Thayer has the ability to enthrall the reader, which is one reason I have enjoyed this book, and many of her others that I have read.
The characters were believable and flawed just enough that we could almost know them as real people. Definitely a five-star read.