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Bittersweet: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 13, 2014
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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
*NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*
*NEW YORK POST’S “SUMMER’S HOTTEST FICTION” PICK*
*NEW YORK DAILY NEWS’ “BOOKS OF SUMMER” PICK*
“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 menace…Like 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.” —Vogue.com
“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
Top customer reviews
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Girl No. 1, Genevra (Ev for short), comes from a New York family that is wildly wealthy in money, real estate and art. It is not only a world of privilege, but also a world of family, love and values. (Or so it seems.) Girl No. 2, Mabel, comes from a poor, dysfunctional family in Oregon, and she is harboring lots of secrets about them. The two young women are assigned as roommates at a tony East Coast women's college (which Mabel is attending on full scholarship). Until a series of events occur in February of their freshman year, Ev is oblivious to Mabel's existence--even though they live together in a small room. That bonding entices Ev to invite Mabel to spend the summer with her family at their palatial lakeside compound in Vermont. And then the action kicks into high gear as Mabel discovers the dark underbelly of this moneyed dynasty--from shocking sexual secrets to reprehensible financial schemes.
Written by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, "Bittersweet" is part thriller, part romance and part women's fiction, this book is the quintessential page-turner. Read it! But save it for when you can really READ and not just skim a few pages at a time.
by Amanda Beverley-Whittemore
Normally a non-fiction reader, suspense novels are not all that attractive to me. But having heard a lot about this one from several friends I downloaded it on my Kindle for a trip I was planning. It sounded like a good travel read.
It kept me occupied on a long day of delayed flights. I was at first hooked by the author’s lovely, lyrical prose. By the time I arrived at my destination twelve hours later, I found I couldn’t put my little ‘book machine’ down and finished the book within a matter of days. Pulled in by the saga of a wealthy family as told by the friend and college roommate of the family’s eldest daughter, it’s a tale filled with surprising twists and turns. Soapy in the tradition of afternoon television programs, it kept me going through a difficult day of travel and opened me up to wanting to read another of the author’s books on my next travel adventure.
It’s a good summer read for sitting by the seaside or swinging in a hammock being gently rocked by a cool breeze.
Yes, the main character isn't 100% likeable, but I don't know where this idea that all main characters should be likeable came from. Some characters are written to be unlikeable on purpose. If Mabel wasn't slightly morally corrupt, nothing in the story would have happened. She is that way for a reason.
There were some plot points that confused me, but most of it was pretty clear. There were so many characters, but I didn't have too much trouble keeping them straight. And the names of the characters and the camps on the lake were so cool. I'd like to spend a summer at Winloch, minus most of the characters (except Galway and John who sounded pretty sweet.)
The book ended with too many loose ends, too little tying up the pieces. Very foolish ending.