Customer Reviews: Summer Breeze: A Novel
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VINE VOICEon May 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Summer Breeze
Nancy Thayer

A way...

Families who live in the Berkshires around Dragon Fly Lake begin their summer by meeting for a cookout. There are old friends and new. There are three young women in particular who are sort of learning about themselves. They are the focus of this novel. They are Morgan, Natalie and Bella.

My thoughts...

I found this to be a light carefree summery book. I am used to this author's books taking place on Nantucket so the Berkshires were a pleasant surprise. Three reasonably young women live around a beautiful lake. Each one has sort of life changing decisions to make over the course of this summer. Morgan has issues with motherhood and leaving her career. Natalie has artistic issues. Bella is in love and unsure of where it will take her. There are men and boys with issues too and the author addresses each issue neatly and succinctly. I usually love this author's books because they are always lively and problematic but the problems always get neatly solved in a fun and tidy way. There is always just the right amount of everything in a Nancy Thayer novel. Marital tension, juicy bits, great food descriptions and lover's angst are all included in perfect proportions.

What I loved...

Life around a lake...sandy beaches...gatherings with friends and all of the characters...elusive Slade and lovely Louise and Natalie's mother with her precious bulldogs. Loved their life just outside of Boston and close to Amherst. Loved this setting...I love this part of the country. Loved the shops and colleges and antiques. I wanted to step out of my house and dash into Dragonfly Lake for a cooling swim.

What I didn't love...

The book seemed to lack a bit of excitement for me but I am so used to traditionally reading every Nancy Thayer book that I may just have been a teeny bit unenthusiastic about this one. I loved it while I still wanted more. I wasn't that fond of Morgan and it seemed a bit too easy for Bella to make the decision she will see what I mean when you read the book!

Otherwise it truly is a lovely lively summery book!!!
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VINE VOICEon April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The cover is promising, but before you reach for the "buy" link, let's have the book speak for itself:

From the opening page: "He was so bright, so reliable. He wanted children. He was in love with her. She was in love with him, and the vision of their life together was enticing. But there was one enormous problem: Aaron had been invited to interview for a job in San Francisco."

My sarcastic reaction was: "Gasp! Not THAT!" This paragraph represents the type of superficial conflict that's going to occur throughout the book (and the shallow characters---"so bright, so reliable." (He drives a Volvo, by the way.)

The author has used her son-in-law's field of work for inspiration (she tells us that in the front matter). So you should also be prepared for lines like this, from p. 19:

"I was a biological and chemical safety officer at Weathersfield College outside Boston. I specialize in hazardous waste management. . . Chemical engineers and biosaftety officers are natural enemies. Chemical engineers are more cavalier with the rules than chemists . . ." And it goes on from here. The author's intention is probably to make these folks seem more intellectual. However, this should either be a light book---or not. The material doesn't blend together well.

In the "Famous Last Words" category, this appears on p. 31: "Natalie straightened defiantly. 'Maybe I don't want to meet a man, okay? Maybe I don't want to get married and have children. Maybe I don't want to believe a man when he says he loves me, and then he leaves me, and leaves my children, and never sees them again, and doesn't care if they live or die, and they grow up feeling worthless.'" Yeah, right.

There really aren't going to be any surprises here. And there's still more than 250 pages to go.

If you really feel compelled to read this on the beach, bring sunglasses to cover the eye rolling. No doubt the author's heart was in the right place, and sometimes predictable can feel as warm and comfortable as a fleece blanket. But not here. Even in the "light" category, you can surely find a more engaging book than this.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nancy Thayer takes a break from setting her books in her native Nantucket and heads to Dragonfly Lake for this novel about three women who become friends over a summer of finding themselves.

I was sad when I realized this book didn't take place on Nantucket as the rest of her novels that I've read have but I'm happy with any sort of body of water in a book so I kept hoping that Dragonfly Lake would capture the magic that Nantucket has before. Sadly, I felt that Summer Breeze, while a good read, did miss the mark when it comes to the magic I've come to love from Nancy's books and most importantly the places she describes. The lake does have a bit of fun but it's nothing compared to her descriptions of Nantucket and the way they are brought to life.

Beyond that, while eventually I did settle into Bella, Morgan and Natalie's friendship, the beginning was a bit jarring when they are introduced over a cocktail and in the next moment they are inviting each other over for cocktails and at ease with each other. I did like seeing these three women find themselves and I really liked how the love aspect was ambiguous and you weren't quite sure at any time who was going to wind up together.

It was a decent read and I'd rate this a solid 3.5. A fun light read for the summer months but not one I'd tell my friends is a MUST to take or read while poolside this summer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon May 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had never read a book by Nancy Thayer until last summer when I read "Heat Wave" and truly enjoyed it. It started out fairly predictable but by the end there was a plot twist that really hooked me and I thought the character development was very good for a summery beach read. When I saw she had a new novel coming out this year, I immediately started watching for it and was quite excited to see become available on VINE. It felt like Christmas had come early when the book arrived and I settled in for a fun read.

This particular novel is set on a lake in the Berkshires and features three women: 1) Bella, a 3rd grade teacher, who has returned to the family home to take care of her mother after she has broken her leg and to help with the small shop she owns 2) Natalie is a struggling artist to has been living in New York and trying to find time to pursue her art while working low-paying jobs to support herself. Her aunt wants her to house sit for a year and she views it as the perfect opportunity to work on her painting full-time and 3) Morgan who is a stay-at-home mom of a young son who is struggling to deal with a husband who has accepted a new, high-powered job and is never home or is always working when he is home. The three women all live in houses around Dragonfly Lake and meet at a neighborhood cookout.

I had some concerns about the book in the early pages. There were so many characters thrown out in such rapid succession that I grabbed a pen and started marking up the book to make sure I could come back to the page where they were introduced and remember who they were. It seemed rushed, but I didn't make any firm decision on how I felt about the book as all this happened in the first 8 pages and there was a lot to go. Unfortunately, as I moved through the novel, my heart sunk as I realized this wasn't turning out to meet my expectations. I love beach reads and wasn't expecting high-brow literature, but this ended up feeling more like a Harlequin romance to me than anything else. The three women meet once and become lasting friends. Each one meets a man, feels the animal attraction to him and loses every sensible thought they ever had. The characters felt shallow and undeveloped. It was hard to believe this was written by the same author as "Heat Wave". If I had read this one first, I wouldn't have picked up any other novels by Ms. Thayer. I have to admit that as the novel moved along, it got better but the ending was pretty abrupt and way to pat for me. I have been told that some of her earlier books are fabulous and I think I will go back and look for those in the future.

I was so sad to have this reaction, but it was with a sign of relief when I finished the last page and knew I could move on to reading something else.
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VINE VOICEon July 28, 2012
Summers on Dragonfly Lake in rural Massachusetts are dreamy, lovely, and full of moments of connection between friends and family.

For Bella Barnaby, returning home from her job as a teacher to help her mother after a broken leg sidelined her from running her shop, Barnaby's Barn, something more may come out of the visit.

What Bella discovers around the lake and in running the shop is a true passion for design and collecting that could fuel a business of her own.

But her boyfriend Aaron might take a job in an architectural firm in San Francisco, and then what?

Meanwhile, meeting new and old friends around the lake has offered a feeling of connection she is enjoying. What if she doesn't want to give it all up?

Morgan and Josh O'Keefe have the biggest house in the neighborhood, but at what cost to their personal relationship? Is work worth the risk of losing it all?

Natalie, who is staying at her aunt's home, is discovering that her passion for art could turn into something meaningful financially when Bella turns the "Barn" into a showcase for local art and design. Her handsome brother Slade continues to exhibit his passion for conquest, but will he finally settle down? And what about Ben, the handsome Barnaby next door, as obsessed with science as Natalie is with art? Will they form a love connection?

Summer Breeze: A Novel is a delightful foray into friendships, passions, and the obsessions that make life interesting. I could not stop turning the pages as I delighted in what the author showed me about this life on the lake. Four stars. Enjoyable, but a bit predictable.
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VINE VOICEon May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Looking for an entertaining, grabbing beach read? Keep looking. This one won't be it.

Nancy Thayer has many other books, such as Beachcombers, Summer House, any of them really. This one missed the mark, greatly.

I felt a total disconnect immediately. Such a rush cast of characters at the beginning, with absolutely NO depth whatsoever. When the 3 become friends so quickly after one evening of drinks, I said what. What is that! The conversations are terrible. I detested every character. I can't tell you which one I hated worse of the girls, and the guys, Slade and Ben. Bleck!

Morgan and Josh's marriage? Double bleck.

Do yourself a favor, save yourself time, and pick up one of her older ones!
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VINE VOICEon August 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is an easy read. The three main characters are somewhat superficial as they figure out what they want in life. Though the topics are real enough: marriage, career, children - the situations each one faces are presented in a way that make it hard to connect. Their personalities are all a bit selfish and two dimensional. They become friends quickly and then act as though they have known one another their entire lives.

As a working mother, I understood some of what Morgan is going through while adjusting to being a stay at home mom. She is restless and feels powerless while she sees her life crumbling around her. There is a disconnect though in the character she was before the storyline, and the one we read about after the book starts. Perhaps that is intentional; it does not make for smooth reading though.

Bella faces a dilemma between her relationship and a possible career. She can't seem to figure out what she wants and only sees the ways her two interests cannot intersect. By the time she figures out a solution, she has had a roller coaster of emotional situations that test her resolve. She also refers to her parents in the third person, v. saying mom or dad, which made for some confusing reading.

Natalie is an artist who takes the summer to focus on her art to determine what type motivates her to do her best work. Throughout the book she experiments with different styles, finding the one that brings her the most personal satisfaction. Woven in her story is her relationship with her mother, which is strained and presented from only one perspective. This story seems to be secondary but it struggles to gain prominence.

Overall, I did like the book. Even though I did not connect with all of the characters, I was curious to see what each one decided to do, as the book came to an end. The characters did not draw me in like some of Thayer's other books but it was not a difficult story to follow. The end was mostly satisfying and gave each main character closure.

Natalie also has a brother who pops in and out of the women's lives. His role has multiple purposes, from challenging the status quo to coping with his own demons. His presence reinforces some of the women's superficiality.
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on June 6, 2012
Whenever I feel the urge to delve into a self-help book for ideas on how to cope with a problem, I stop myself and instead reach for a Nancy Thayer novel! Thayer's people have problems, but they always seem to resolve them -- sooner or later.

That was the case with her 2011 novel "Heat Wave", set on Nantucket Island, where transplanted Midwesterner Thayer lives and writes and that's certainly the situation in "Summer Breeze" (Ballantine Books, 320 pages, $26.00, also available in eBook editions).

If I have any criticism of Thayer's characters it probably involves the famous "Lake Woebegon" effect -- named after Garrison Keillor's fictional Minnesota town where "all the children are above average." Not only are Thayer's fictional children above average, her WASPy adults are way beyond above average in looks and educational accomplishments. They're like Nicole Kidman's Martha Gellhorn and Clive Owen's Ernest Hemingway in the new HBO movie "Hemingway and Gellhorn."

In "Summer Breeze" Thayer goes off-island to Dragonfly Lake in the Connecticut valley of Massachusetts, where thick-on-the-ground colleges and universities like U-Mass Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College attract Prius-driving locavores (the word of the year for 2007: people interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market). The Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts probably has more Ph.Ds than any similar area in the world.

Don't look for it on a map -- I tried -- like Lake Woebegon, Dragonfly Lake is fictional, but the problems of Morgan O'Keefe, Bella Barnaby and Natalie Reynolds have the ring of reality.

Thirty-year-old Morgan is on the mommy track after giving up a satisfying career as a hazardous materials specialst, moving to Dragonfly Lake when her husband Josh takes a high-paying job with Bio-Science Industries. Of all the characters in the novel, Josh seems to want Morgan to become the perfect Stepford Wife, decorating their modern home and serving as the perfect hostess to impress his boss Ronald Ruoff and his socialite wife Eva. Like many women who quit their jobs to raise a family, Morgan loves her son Petey and husband Josh, but misses the collegiality of her job in the biosafety department of Weatherford University near Boston.

Bella has left her elementary school teaching job in Austin, Texas to be a caregiver to her mother, who has broken a leg. She returns home to help out in the Barnaby home on the lake, manning the counter at the family business, Barnaby's Barn, an outdated shop sorely in need of a makeover. While living in sophisticated Austin, Bella has picked up some ideas to make the shop more attractive. A job decision by her boyfriend, Aaron, an architect, could change all her plans.

Fed up with New York City's hectic pace, Natalie Reynolds takes up her wealthy interior decorator aunt's offer to house-sit her lakeside house for a year. The stay brings out the best in Natalie as she finds subjects to draw and paint among her new-found friends and neighbors. She also discovers that being a novice swimmer is a good thing when she finds herself in the arms of a handsome neighbor pulling her up from the water for a gulp of air. Talk about cute meets: When Natalie meets Ben scores an eleven on the cute-meet-o-meter!

So light up the citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay, pour yourself a glass of chardonnay or riesling and enjoy Thayer's latest look at friendship, sibling relationships and love and marriage in "Summer Breeze."
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on June 24, 2012
I've always loved Nancy Thayer's novels so I was excited to start "Summer Breeze' - a novel about the coming together of three women at Dragonfly Lake. Bella is the schoolteacher who comes back home to run her mother's shop, Natalie is the New York artist who is working on her painting in her aunt's house for a year, and Morgan is the stay-at- home mom who misses her career as an environmental safety officer. Of course each has a complicated romance which plays out on the lake with the cookouts, boat trips, antique shopping, falling in love, and self-discovery. I was disappointed to not connect more with the women in the story or buy their budding friendship as they really did not have anything in common. Definitely not my favorite Nancy Thayer's novel but overall a good summer's read.
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on July 2, 2012
Is it hot where you are? The temperatures lately have been consistently in the 101-105 range and that made it a really good time for me to read Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer, a free book to review from Librarything. I was looking for an excellent summer beach read that would take my mind off of the impending heat and the inability of the air conditioner anywhere but Wal-Mart to keep up with the oppression of the sun. Seriously, where do they get their air conditioning? I need to get some of that. Unfortunately, Summer Breeze was a summer bummer. Ideally, this novel would be about three women who discover each other at the beach and celebrate their differences and talents. Instead it turned into a catty women in heat novel that made me really disappointed that anyone would consider what they had as friendship.

Bella is a martyr of a daughter who has come home to take over her family shop and instead decides to turn it into an antique and art shop. Throughout the book she struggles with knowing if she loves her fiance because...he might take a job in San Fransisco. Really? I mean, he could have leprosy and I can see how that presents a challenge but his dreams are somewhere else and you want to run your shop here? Clearly, I'm not sympathetic to the characters in the novel. Morgan, a new stay at home mom and former scientist presents as unrealistic and insensitive to the demands on her husband as he goes to bring home the bacon and ultimately I think most modern women would just ask her why she didn't hire an interior decorator and a babysitter and go back to work instead of trying to sabotage her marriage? Sometimes the answer really is that simple. And Natalie...well, she's a confused artist because aren't all artists confused?

If I sound patronizing it's because I'm being patronizing. I disliked how cookie cutter the novel was from start to finish. People are more dynamic than this. The only characters I liked were Bella's parents. You just cannot pit three protagonists against each other for the four men in the novel and expect it to fly. The ending was trite and I couldn't finish it quickly enough. I rarely give bad reviews, but I wouldn't read this one again. It was hard enough to finish the first time. Thayer has better writing in her.
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