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Bittersweet: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (420 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
You Save: $12.01 (48%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.
   On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
   But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own. 

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Out of place at her elite East Coast college, Mabel Dagmar falls into an unlikely friendship with her blue-blooded roommate, Genevra Ev Winslow, and is invited to spend the summer at Ev’s family estate in Vermont. Jumping at the chance to escape her working-class family in Oregon, Mabel enters the world of madras shorts and cocktails on the veranda. The enchantment of a lakeside retreat, steeped in tradition, sweeps Mabel (who now goes by May) off her feet, as does Ev’s older brother, Galway. But May has secrets, as do the Winslows, and as May unravels the family’s litany of misdeeds, she puts herself in serious danger. Beverly-Whittemore’s novel is suspenseful and intriguing, filled with characters who both fit the blue-blood mold and break the stereotypes we all associate with the upper class. Her short chapters, with their cliff-hanger endings, will keep readers turning pages late into the night. --Heather Paulson



“Beverly-Whittemore is at her best bringing Winloch vividly to life, evoking the look and feel of its cottages and dining hall, and its daily summer rhythms…A fairy tale aspect – of the Grimm, not the Disney variety – pervades the novel, which artfully builds an increasing sense of menaceLike a Downton-in-Vermont, Bittersweet takes swift, implausible plot turns, and its family secrets flow like a bottomless magnum of champagne, but Beverly-Whittemore succeeds in shining a light into the dark, brutal flaws of the human heart.” New York Times Book Review

“Mesmerizing gothic thriller…Bittersweet is worth savoring—it unfolds like a long summer day, leisurely revealing the dark.” —People, Lisa Kay Greissinger
“What begins a little like Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep quickly warps into a sickly addictive thriller…think ABC’s Revenge when it was good, only more scandalous…With books like Bittersweet to stuff in beach bags, it’s beginning to feel a lot more like summer. A-” —Entertainment Weekly
, Stephan Lee

“Beverly-Whittemore has crafted a page-turner riddled with stubborn clues, a twisty plot and beguiling characters.” —Kirkus, starred review

“[An] intriguing outsider tale of the 1%.” —The New York Post; Summer’s Hottest Fiction pick
For fans of Edward St. Aubyn… Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet spins a New England gothic filled with blonde bluebloods and heavily bolted doors.” —

“Evokes Gone Girl with its exploration of dark secrets and edge-of-your-seat twists.”
 —Entertainment Weekly, Lanford Beard

Takes the reader inside the glamorous world of the super-wealthy, where everything is not as it seems, and dark, long-buried family secrets gradually make their way to the surface. ...its strength lies in its elements of mystery. The result is a page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the end.” —BookPage

Suspenseful and intriguing, filled with characters who both fit the blue-blood mold and break the stereotypes we all associate with the upper class. Her short chapters, with their cliff-hanger endings, will keep readers turning pages late into the night.” —Booklist

Beverly-Whittemore captures both the idyllic beauty of a Vermont summer and its dark shadows …gothic tangles wind the plot more and more tightly. …A suspenseful tale of corruption and bad behavior among wealthy New Englanders. Readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories featuring dark secrets that affect generations will find much that appeals here.” —Library Journal

"In the tradition of The Great Gatsby, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore's heroine is an outsider invited into the secret, labyrinthine world of the super-rich--but the twist is, you never met such debauched people as the Winslows. Bittersweet is a satisfyingly dramatic, super-juicy read." —Jenna Blum, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers 

Bittersweet is the kind of book you hope to stumble across on a rainy vacation weekend: a wild New England gothic full of family secrets, mysteriously locked doors, sailboats, suntans, forbidden lust, and a few priceless works of art. An engrossing summer blast.” —Maggie Shipstead, national bestselling author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me

“In Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore prizes up the veneer of an old, privileged American family to discover depths of intrigue, power, and menace beneath. In its guise as a coming-of-age mystery, the book is both swift and arresting; that the novel also doubles as an insightful meditation on class, aspiration, and longing makes the book reverberate in the reader long past its final line.” —Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia

Gripping, beguiling and beautifully written, Bittersweet is a page turner that chills as it intoxicates. Miranda Beverly-Whittemore has created a family so dangerously enthralling that the more we learn of their greed and bloodlust, the more we aspire to belong.” —Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner award-winning author of The Great Man and Blue Plate Special

Part coming-of-age story, part riveting mystery, Bittersweet is a tantalizing tale of an outsider thrust into a glittering world of immense privilege and suspect morals. With a narrator torn between uncovering one family's dark secrets and protecting her own, Bittersweet brilliantly explores the complicated question of what price any of us would pay to seize the life of our dreams.” —Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia 

“The theme of paradise lost courses through this coming-of-age tale tinged with mystery…For all their lean, blonde beauty and their designer names, the Winslows—including Birch and Tilde, Ev’s parents; and Ev’s brother Galway, whose attentions encourage Mabel to fantasize about becoming part of the blue-blooded tribe—have more squalid secrets than her own…” —Publishers Weekly

“A lot of summer books are breezy beach reads, but Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet ups the ante. Her story of an outsider driven by a dangerous desire to fit into a world of privilege (think Gatsby) has all the sex and secrets typical of summer books. But Bittersweet packs a bigger punch… A New England summer of first love, friendships, fireworks, midnight skinny dipping, tragedy and digging up family dirt ensues.” —The Herald News

Product Details

  • File Size: 1589 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0804138567
  • Publisher: Crown (May 13, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,802 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the beach May 6, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I could not put this book down! And that is saying something because I read it over my birthday weekend in which I was going out with friends and celebrating. But each minute to myself, whether in the bathroom or waiting in line, I grabbed this book out and tried to just get in a couple more lines. Had I been on the beach, I would have devoured it in one sitting and allowed myself to become as sunburned as a lobster!

The story follows Mabel who befriends her extremely wealthy and influential college roommate, Ev. At first, Ev ignored Mabel and found her to be below Ev's standards. But as the summer draws closer, the girls form a bond and Ev invites Mabel to join her at her family's "compound" on the lake in Vermont. Mabel is immediately blown away by the family's affluence and wants to become one of them. But such a feat as a huge price. Quickly, the true story of Ev's family starts to unwind and no one is left unscathed.

This book is the absolute perfect summer read! It has friendship, a resort community, gothic suspense, romance, and a big helping of family drama/mystery. The writing is beautiful and the character development, though stereotypical in places, is very well done. My only issue with the book, and the reason why I couldn't give it a full 5 stars, is that the ending felt very rushed. For the number of strings that were in play, the ending seemed to bring them all together in less than 40 pages. In other words, I wanted more! I could have done with another 100 pages about these people and their intrigue. Still, even though it was a bit rushed at the end, it's a must-have for your beach bag!
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cinderella story gone terribly wrong April 7, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Bittersweet, a cottage on the idyllic Winslow estate, is a paradox, beautiful on the outside and corroded on the inside. Mabel Dagmar, a scholarship student at an East Coast college is enamored with her blue-blood roommate Genevra. Mabel is unassuming and mousey, while Genevra is flirtatious, entitled and beautiful. Initially ignored, Mabel cannot believe her good fortune, when Genevra invites her home to her family's Vermont estate for the summer. Mabel wants to put as much distance as she can from her families dry-cleaning business and an unexplained trauma in her past.

Mabel quickly becomes wrapped up in Genevra's world and easily adapts to her way of life. Feeling included at last, Mabel finds both friendship and an unexpected romance. All is not as it seems however, locks need to be immediately installed on all the doors of their cottage, an eccentric Winslow aunt pleads with Mabel to find "solid evidence of anything untoward", and Genevra is not who she seems to be. Like the book Mabel brings along as reading material, Paradise Lost, we come to learn that belonging comes with a price and the Winslow family may be hiding toxic secrets of their own. As Mabel slowly begins to piece together the truth, when the choice is finally hers to make. what future will she choose?

A literary mystery, Mabel's story weaves through the bucolic atmosphere of a summer retreat where madness, greed, and violence may be the way of life. I found this book to be a real page turner. I think the prose, dialogue and the authors ability to paint a picture of this fairy tale setting are all exceptional. A Cinderella story gone terribly wrong. Highly recommended.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Mabel Dagmar is an ordinary-looking young woman, a scholarship student in her first year in an unnamed East Coast college. Her roommate is the blonde, blue-eyed, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. No, Genevra is not perfect, and Mabel knows that, but she thinks highly of her roommate and is happy when she’s invited to spend the summer at the Winslows’ summer place Bittersweet in Vermont.

On the one hand, the summer seems idyllic – picnics, parties, late-night swims. But, just like Genevra is far from perfect, the whole Winslow family has kept secrets for much longer than the century it has owned Bittersweet. It ends up being Mabel’s mission to seek out more about these secrets in old journals and other artifacts. She ends up very much over her head and, at times, wondering about the line between right and wrong.

The author does a very good job with characterization and setting. I found it fairly easy to visualize each character and understand the setting. I could sympathize with the good characters and saw the evil in the bad ones, and even the good ones had flaws enough to make them human. As for the setting, Vermont is one of the few states I have never visited, but I can imagine what a wealthy family’s estate in rural Vermont must be like from this novel.

What could be better about this novel? The pacing seems a little uneven, and for no apparent reason. Sometimes I wanted things to move a little faster; sometimes I wanted things to slow down. However, after a moment’s thought, I wonder if the author isn’t handling things this way because summer is just like that – fast-paced one minute, slower-paced the next.

Overall, though, I give this novel a solid four stars; readers will see it as a good summer novel with a mix of romance, mystery, and more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable
Read like a made for TV movie. Boring, and predictable.
Published 2 hours ago by Guster
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Thoroughly enjoyed it
Great book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. See many of my own tangled webs.
Published 16 hours ago by Just Ask Wanda
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It kept my interest buit had a weak ending.
Published 17 hours ago by Lee M. Hassinger
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
this was definitely not what I thought when I bought this book, I didn't see the ending coming. this book kept me entertained.
Published 1 day ago by helen schlabach
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A wonderful gothic novel for 2014
Published 2 days ago by marsha L Wagner
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
This book was not what I thought it was going to be.
Published 2 days ago by Richard /Joan Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet
Excellent read with human drama. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.
Published 2 days ago by Dixie
3.0 out of 5 stars ... full of complicated characters and secrecy which I generally...
This is a story full of complicated characters and secrecy which I generally enjoy. However, by the halfway point of the book I was hating both of the college female characters,... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Newfie lover
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth my time
I read this book for my book club, but did not find the characters very believable, nor the mystery very captivating.
Published 4 days ago by EJU
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good beach reading
Published 4 days ago by Paula Delaney
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More About the Author

I write novels. My third, Bittersweet (due out from Crown in May), is set at the home on Lake Champlain where I spent my summers as a little girl. But that's where the resemblance to life ends--the place, renamed Winloch in the book--is inhabited by a family of bad people. I wrote Bittersweet for people like me, who love The Secret History and The Emperor's Children; it's a literary beach read.

My first two novels were published in 2005 and 2007.

Based in some part on my own experience being photographed by two fine arts photographers, Jock Sturges and Mona Kuhn, I started my first novel, The Effects of Light, to answer the question most Americans seemed to ask when I explained this photographic work to them--would I still love it if an innocent died because that work had been made?

My second novel, Set Me Free, was based in part on the time I spent on the Crow reservation in highschool, the legacy of my countercultural parents, and the complications of their generation of liberal do-gooders. The book was also an homage to my theater school-aged days and based on The Tempest.

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