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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Gin & Chowder Club
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Countless details bring projects from very good to great. It's always the details that make things authentic. Nan Rossiter has has included enough detail that those of us who remember the time chuckle with delight. And those who didn't live it will be sure to ask. Like Noelle's turquoise "Bel Air ," the "Corvaire," the ubiquitous rotary intersections on Cape Cod's Rt.6, the perfect detail of the Dartmouth campus and village, and Martha's (family Lab) velvet ears. Then there's the references to pop jukebox hits of the late '50s - early '60s: "Old Cape Cod," "Are You Lonesome Tonight," "Only the Lonely" and more. But the real art is the passion that jumps off the page, the heat of the forbidden love and the conflict and tragedy that follows. All this passion without a single graphic "XXX" detail. Didn't need it. Ultimately there is no right or wrong, and the characters, all in stoic New England fashion, are true to form. Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions and have a box of tissues handy to sop up "Two Kinds of Teardrops."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
I really liked this book. After reading the description, not knowing the author I was skeptical, but it was so emotional, the characters so real and the story just kept you riveted. This is a love story and a tradegy and it is told so beautifully that you do not find yourself judging the inappropriate things that people did in the book, rather reading faster and faster to see how it turns out. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Nan Rossiters's The Gin and Chowder Club is a tale of love and betrayal, of temptation and redemption, of loss and forgiveness. This novel explores human fallibility and the grace bestowed upon us through faith and forgiveness.

When Asa falls in love with Noelle, the young wife of his father's closest friend, he knows that he is jeopardizing a close relationship between their families that has lasted through several generations. But despite the guilt and the promises to break off the relationship before anyone else finds out or gets hurt, he and Noelle continue to see each other whenever they get the chance.

Rossiter did a wonderful job of fleshing out Asa's character and the intensities and anguish of a first love. I had some difficulty understanding why an older woman would be interested in someone so much younger than herself, but again, Rossiter perfectly described Noelle's guilt and the ways she compartmentalized the relationships she had with both Asa and her husband, Nate.

Though there is a religious overtone to this novel, I didn't find it heavy handed and I didn't consider this to be "Christian fiction." I enjoyed the themes of forgiveness and redemption, and the power they have to set us free from our own guilt and despair.

I was surprised to see so many people here up in arms over the fact that Christian characters were having affairs and drinking. We all have our weaknesses, and for some, faith is a way to transcend them, overcome them, and learn from them. I thought this novel perfectly exemplified this lesson and imparted the importance of faith without being didactic or preachy.

Do I think a person can love two people at the same time? Absolutely! Does love sometimes not conform to social mores? Of course! If it feasible that Christians can find themselves in an adulterous affair and still be a Christian? I can't believe this is even an issue...

Moving on, the description of Cape Cod left me wanting to drive across the country, drink some cold beer and have some creamy clam chowder. Visions of light houses, ocean spray, and stunning sundowns had me cursing this Texas summer/drought.

I enjoyed the atomospheric Gin and Chowder Club, and look forward to reading future Rossiter novels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a great beach read, but I also enjoyed it while curled up on the couch with the air conditioner blasting and a gin and tonic beside me. I was, however, having a hard time trying to decide whether I liked this book or not. The author does a great job of placing us within the families. I loved the closeness and happiness there, but then there was the inevitableness of the pending affair. I didn't want it to happen and kept putting the book down to keep it from happening! I loved the connectedness of the generations and the history of the "Gin & Chowder Club", however, something was missing. And then I realized it had to do with Noelle's character. I could understand why Asa was drawn to her - she was beautiful, interested and he was lonely, but why was she drawn to him. We just weren't given enough to see that happening. I know she fell in love with him, but what ever caused her to look at him that way in the first place? Kudos to Ms. Rossiter for helping us to feel Asa's broken heart when he returns to school after learning of Noelle's pregnancy. Anyone who has suffered a severely broken heart could feel his intense agony coming through the pages. I know some have criticized the Bible verses and Christian values portrayed in this book, but as someone hailing from the rural south I can tell you there are still those healthy, stable Christian families out there, you have to look for them and they aren't perfect, but they are there. I did enjoy this book for the simple reason that sometimes it is just nice to know that love can conquer all and that even a terrible tragedy can have a happy ending. And as a side note: I enjoyed the dog character, Martha. As a lover of old dogs, I loved to see the family's simple inclusion and accommodations for their old friend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
A lovely and very readable book focusing on the gentle longings of old friends who have summered on Cape Cod for many years. These longings cover the excitement of first love; the aches of disappointment; and, the solid affection of families that help all of us to continue living our lives the best way we can.

The Coleman family (Sarah, Samuel, and their sons, Asa and Isaac), and the Shepherds (Nate and Noelle), have been friends for a long time. Nate lost his first wife, Annie, and after about two years he fell in love and married Noelle who had been Annie's nurse. These two families had always been fast friends. They spend summers in their comfortable Cape Cod houses by the water where, in the evenings, they sit on their respective porches and have their gin and tonics, good conversation, and eat homemade clam chowder. Toasting each other in their Cambridge accents:

" ' Tis the chowdah that waams a man's belly...
But aye, 'tis the gin that waams his soul!"

Here, on the Cape surrounded by the ocean, the Coleman's have raised their children to adulthood and Nate Shepherd watched them grow up, too. But, yonder lies the pain underneath these ideal conditions. There is an attraction between Asa and Noelle which spells danger to all their good times. Regardless of the pain this pair could cause among their families, Asa and Noelle are pulled into an affair resulting in many problems down the line. During one very difficult summer they will cause many difficult decisions to be made by members of both families.

This was a wonderful read, full of good humor and also many heart-wrenching decisions that had to be made by all parties involved. It will make the reader laugh one minute and cry the next. But, above all, readers will enjoy it immensely and never, ever forget each and every glorious word!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Gin and Chowder Club by Nan Rossiter is an eloquently written story about the dangers of an affair and the deep binds of love. The story is set in Cape Cod, and showcases two very different families. Samuel and Sarah Coleman are a happily married couple with two sons, Isaac and Asa. The family is good friends with Nate Shepherd and his much younger wife, Noelle. What the families don't know is of a secret affair between Asa and Noelle. The pair doesn't know what to do about their love for one another. They can't stand being apart from one another, but understand that if the affair was brought to light, the bond between the families would be forever broken. When Asa decides the best thing for him to do would be to go off to college and leave the families at peace, he and Noelle embark on a summer fling, trying to get in all the time together that they can. But the consequences of the summer play a cruel twist of fate, with an unexpected ending for all.

I really enjoyed The Gin and Chowder Club. Even though it is told from Asa's perspective, I was able to jump right in and form a bond with all the characters. Rossiter's writing is beautiful, and the Cape Cod scenery made me feel I was there right along with the cast. The only thing that I had a bit of trouble with was the time frame of the story. I kept thinking something seemed a bit off, but it wasn't until Asa went to the baseball game that I realized this book is set in the 1960's. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, and even shed a few tears at the heart wrenching ending. This is Rossiter's first adult novel, and I will eagerly wait for more!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Oh my, I started this book on my plane flight from DC to Denver, continued it through the airport in Denver, and then didn't put it down until I finished the book on the flight from Denver to Montana. What I'm trying to say is that I couldn't put it down. You have Asa, a young man just on his way to college, falling head over heels for Noelle, a close family friend that he's pretty much grown up around. It's definitely intriguing.

Asa seems a little confused. He knows he shouldn't pursue Noelle but he does. Noelle knows that she has to be the adult in this situation but she's inexplicably drawn to Asa and doesn't do anything to stop their torrid love affair. I don't know if it was just the young man/older woman scenario that made me make this connection but this book definitely has the same flavor as The Graduate. It's forbidden love and with Asa's family and Noelle and her husband being so close, both Asa and Noelle know they're playing with fire.

On one hand, I found myself getting kind of angry about Asa and Noelle not realizing what the potential consequences could be if they got caught. On the other hand, them getting closer to each other seems to have somewhat of an otherworldly pull that you can see how they get so tied up in each other.

Bottom line, this book will keep you reading until you figure everything out. Make sure you set aside a lot of time before sitting down to read this book.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have never read anything by Rossiter, but this novel truly blew me away! It is a heart breaking story of a young boy, turned man, falling in love. You see Asa entangled with a woman older than him and married to his parent's best friend. The settings were well written, as were the feelings the young man had. It made me just want to hug him and tell him it would be alright! It did not take me long to become enthralled in the reading, not wanting to put the book down to see what Asa was to do next! There were several times when I reached up to swipe a tear away. I loved the story line and couldn't want to see what exactly would happen. The ending left me wanting just a little more, but overall the book was well written and thought provoking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Gin & Chowder is the perfect summer read...whether it is poolside, beach-side, or just curled up in a chair in the air conditioning. I felt as though I was there on Cape Cod and part of the family...Be sure to have the kleenex ready. This is a book you won't be able to put down until the very last page. Can't wait for the next one by Nan Rossiter!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Goodreads Description- Set against the beautiful backdrop of Cape Cod, "The Gin & Chowder Club" is an eloquent, tender story of friendship, longing, and the enduring power of love...The friendship between the Coleman and Shepherd families is as old and comfortable as the neighbouring houses they occupy each summer on Cape Cod. Samuel and Sarah Coleman love those warm months by the water; the evenings spent on their porch, enjoying gin and tonics, good conversation and homemade clam chowder. Here they've watched their sons, Isaac and Asa, grow into fine young men, and watched, too, as Nate Shepherd, aching with grief at the loss of his first wife, finally found love again with the much younger Noelle. But beyond the surface of these idyllic gatherings, the growing attraction between Noelle and handsome, college-bound Asa threatens to upend everything. In spite of her guilt and misgivings, Noelle is drawn into a reckless secret affair with far-reaching consequences. And over the course of one bittersweet, unforgettable summer, Asa will learn more than he ever expected about love - the joys and heartache it awakens in us, the lengths we'll go to keep it, and the countless ways it can change our lives forever...

As I began this book, I definitely had preconceived notions that the book would be about two sets of couples who regularly meet for dinner on Cape Cod and much of the story would revolve around those dinners. I didn't expect the story to focus on the affair between the college age son, Asa, of Samuel and Sarah Coleman and Noelle, the second wife of the Coleman's close family friend Nate whose first wife died of cancer several years earlier. I think because I had such preconceived ideas that I was pretty disappointed as to where the book went plotwise.

I thought both Asa and Noelle were pretty petty and selfish to deceive Nate and their families for their tryst. They both were reckless with their behavior and then when they couldn't see each other they were often whiny and depressed. I was especially annoyed with Asa. Everything about him annoyed me. He was jealous of Nate and actually angry that Nate got to have Noelle instead of him. Hello....Nate was older and MARRIED to Noelle. Asa had no claim to her. And the fact that he let his obsession with Noelle ruin his freshman year of college was really immature. I just couldn't stand Asa and his actions. He just needed to get over her and move on. He was in college...surely there were girls that he could have found if he hadn't have been so obsessed with Noelle.

Then tragedy after tragedy happened and Asa was angry with and blamed God. He was just so selfish. He didn't think how others felt during these awful times. Ultimately this book was a tragedy but did have a good outcome that brought Asa out of his selfish funk. I have read other books by this author but this just wasn't up to par when compared to her other books. 3 stars.
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