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The Goodbye Summer: A Novel (Gaffney, Patricia) Hardcover – April 13, 2004

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

No one can accuse Gaffney of shying away from mortality. Against the genteel backdrop of Wake House, a Maryland home for the elderly, Caddie Winger, a music teacher, endures a string of losses the summer she turns 33. In a way, it comes as no surprise, since most of her friends are nearly half a century older than she is. Caddie has always lived with her determinedly wacky grandmother, Nana, who moves into Wake House after she breaks a leg while working on one of her embarrassing lawn sculptures. Soon, Caddie is spending all her time at the small convalescent home and growing especially close to Thea, a firecracker who convinces Caddie to smoke pot and dance in the rain. Despite the fun they have together, the sober realities of old age are never far off, and Caddie's affair with a man her own age-disappearing slick-o Christopher-doesn't do much to cheer her up. The novel has its larkier moments, especially in the spirited, pitch-perfect conversations between Caddie and Nana and the sniping among Nana's fellow Wake House residents. But mostly Caddie suffers and struggles as Nana's ditziness looks more like dementia, money grows scarce, and she is plagued by crippling self-doubt. The redemptive romance, with 30-something Wake House resident Henry Magill, convalescing from a sky-diving accident that killed his fiancée, echoes the core love story in Gaffney's last novel, Flight Lessons Here, too, a damaged hero offers a profound attractiveness the reader recognizes ages ahead of the heroine. Caddie is endearing, and while some fans will cherish her fealty to her sorrows, others may feel more bummed than uplifted.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gaffney, author of The Saving Graces (1999), offers a tale about a woman facing changes in her quiet life. At 32, Caddie Winger is perfectly happy to be living with her grandmother, Frances, who raised her, and giving music lessons. But after Frances takes a fall and breaks her leg, she insists on moving to Wake House, a convalescent home. There, Frances meets a diverse group of older folks: a pair of sisters, two women who used to be married to the same man (at different times), and a cranky but lovable curmudgeon. She also meets Magill, a young man whose sense of balance has been thrown off by a tragic skydiving accident. Meanwhile, Caddie gradually adjusts to living alone, then, when she meets sexy Christopher, the director of the Creative Animal Therapy School, she is genuinely surprised by his interest in her. Slightly predictable and somewhat slow at first, Gaffney's novel picks up the pace once Caddie gets involved with Christopher, and by the end, the reader is thoroughly drawn into Caddie's world. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Gaffney, Patricia
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060185295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060185299
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,165,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patricia Gaffney began her writing career with the publication of Sweet Treason, a historical romance set in revolutionary Scotland. Eleven romance novels later, she tried something different--The Saving Graces, a story of women's friendships, that ended up spending 17 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Circle of Three, Flight Lessons, and The Goodbye Summer followed, all bestsellers that established Gaffney as a premier mainstream fiction writer.

Her new book is Mad Dash, the story of a happy marriage in trouble. It's due out in Spring 2008.

Gaffney, who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, is currently at work on a novel about a man who changes his life when he finds out he's dying--then finds out he isn't. Working title: On Second Thought.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Judith Schonhoff on July 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book was such a nice read. The main character is Caddie, a 32 year old music teacher who has always lived with her grandmother (since Caddie's mother died when Caddie was very young). Caddie's grandmother decides to go live at the local pseudo nursing home while she heals a broken leg. The home is called Wake House and the inhabitants all are quite distinctive! This story is written through Caddie's eyes. Since she is no longer living with her grandmother, she starts to get out more and eventually falls in love. In addition, she visits often with the Wake House folks and gets to learn a lot about them as she write their bios for a Wake House project.
There are not many books that have so many "elder" characters written with such flair! You want to know more about them and their sometimes boring, sometimes exciting, but always REAL experiences. Just a nice, feel good book that will make you cry and laugh. I can't wait to read another by this author!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Feller on June 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Caddie is a young woman who has led a very odd life. It's a wonder she is as dependable and compassionate as she is.We should all be so lucky to have someone so "boring" in our lives.
Nana is not your usual milk and cookies grandma. She is a strange, sometmes bitter old lady, on a painful slide into the world of alzheimers disease. But as eccentric as she is, her love for Caddie is always obvious.
We have all known guys like Chris. He's not a horrible person, but self centered and undependable. A believable heel.
Henry McGill is a wonderful hero. He is a slow moving guy. You would be too, if you were recovering from a tragic, life altering accident.
Thea is the "old" lady I want to be when it's my time. Full of zest for life, and a warm loving heart, she is a magical character.
Cornel is a lonely old man who has almost succeeded in convincing himself he doesn't need to care about the rest of his life.Almost
All of these lives are intertwined in a rich story infused with Pat Gaffney's usual warmth, humor, and compassion.
Nobody wants to get old, everybody will. I loved reading about how the characters in this book are handling the stages of their lives.
Old people, wounded people, lead slow lives. You don't heal quickly from a terrible hurt, and you don't get old quickly.
Patricia Gaffney has written a beautiful book to remind us of this.I'm a little sorry for readers who found this book to be "slow". How fast and busy their lives must be.
I can't imagine not wanting to find out what happens to all of these extraordinary characters, or missing Caddie's "interviews".
THE GOODBY SUMMER is a book to be savored, not gobbled.It is most deserving of whatever time it takes to be read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rebelmomof2 VINE VOICE on November 21, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love how my hairstylist has this book exchange going on at her salon ~~ otherwise, I'd never pick up some of these books simply because I have too many at home to read! I picked this one up in hopes it'd be a fun lighthearted read. And while it's not lighthearted ~~ it is definitely entertaining and enjoyable!

Caddie Winger, 32 years old and never married, has been raised by her grandmother after her mother died. She has to send her grandmother to a boardinghouse for the elders after Frances broke her leg ~~ and that was just the beginning of an extraordinary summer that Caddie had ever experienced in her life. She falls in love with the guy she thought was of her dreams, made new friends and found her own self-worth and independence.

It is a wonderful story of a young woman who finds herself assailed by life's crazy moments ~~ all the highs and downs of life ~~ and love ~~ and the friends she has made along the way. It explores the nuances of friendships, failed romances and how life sometimes throws a curve ball which ends up bringing a wonderful blessing and life's great sorrow.

This is a wonderful book to read during these long winter nights ~~ and perfect for a beach read. I have read all of the others of Gaffney's books ~~ and this one is right there next to Saving Grace, which is my favorite of her books.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on August 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In a quirky story full of highly unusual people a la Anne Tyler, Patricia Gaffney has created a moving and simple tale of people who bond together because they have risen above the need to judge. And so they find glorious treasure in the most unlikely of fellow human beings.

That may sound corny, it may sound pat--but the message here is if you look beyond the surface, you just might find gold. And, like Anne Tyler before her, Gaffney takes the most seemingly ordinary people and graces their lives with beauty, showing us that every human being is an angel--no matter how deep you have to dig!

This is the story of Caddie Winger, a music teacher in her early 30s who has no notion of herself at all. She considers herself blah and invisible when she is quite the opposite. She lives an invisible existence, though, in an old house with the woman who raised her, her grandmother Nana.

As the book opens, Nana, an eclectic, very "out there" "performance artist" given to creating obscene sculptures out of mud and plants in the front yard, suddenly and without warning asks Caddie to take her to a local residence for the elderly. It is not a nursing home, but one step from it. Caddie is appalled and upset--this is totally unlike Nana. But she complies, and at the home itself, Caddie, a young and attractive woman, gets drawn in to the various lives, large and small, of Nana's residential neighbors.

In the process of listening to, and at times recording, the interesting life histories of the residents, Caddie begins to come out of her shell and put together the clues of her own self as well. It's a slow and painful process, and there is no "eureka!" suddenly on page 300. More, it is like real life is, a surprise, good or bad, around every corner.

This is simply a wonderful book. I recommend it highly.
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