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Summer Island: A Novel Paperback – November 2, 2004
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Few authors dare to truly analyze the complex natures of mother-daughter relationships. In her novel Summer Island, author Kristin Hannah perfectly captures the bittersweet, inspiring, disappointing, tragic, and human aspects of such a relationship. Set in the tranquil, present-day San Juan Islands, Summer Island presents itself as a deep investigation of the ramifications of a mother's abandonment of her two daughters. Unlike many similar novels, this one delivers the goods.
When Nora Bridge left her husband and her two daughters 10 years ago, she took the only route she could see, and assumed she still had her daughters' love. Now, though she is distant from her own daughters, Nora is the hostess of a radio advice show, where she advises listeners that "family comes first." When a scandal breaks and Nora hits rock bottom, she finds she has to rely on the two people she has betrayed most deeply: her daughters, Ruby and Caroline.
As an aspiring and failing comedian, Ruby's life in Los Angeles has shrunk into a directionless morass. She says when she dismisses superstition, "As if she needed magic to tell her that she was stuck in the spin cycle of her life." Though neither she nor Caroline are inclined to help their mother, Ruby finally agrees when a magazine offers to pay her for a tell-all exposé.
With a masterful balance of cutting wit, realistic dialogue, and lyrical description, Summer Island is by far Hannah's greatest work. Mothers, daughters, and sisters are sure to mark the passages and lend this novel to each other. If this is the standard for future Hannah novels, her fan base is sure to grow.--Nancy R.E. O'Brien --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Second-chance love of a different stripe--between mother and daughter--is the focus of Hannah's (Angel Falls) overheated family drama. More than 10 years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her husband and two daughters. Now a wildly popular radio talk-show host and syndicated columnist, Nora offers inspirational advice that appeals to listeners' family values. What Nora's fans don't know is that her youngest daughter, Ruby, now 28, hasn't spoken to her mother in years. When a scandal breaks concerning Nora's unsavory past, Ruby, whose stand-up comedy career hasn't taken off the way she hoped it would, is hired to pen a tell-all article. Conveniently for Ruby, Nora is injured in a car accident and needs someone to accompany her to the family's former retreat on Washington's Summer Island. Once mother and daughter begin to get reacquainted, however, trading secrets, learning to see each other as people and healing the wounds of the past, Ruby isn't sure she wants to write the profile after all. Two subplots drive home the same lesson: one featuring Ruby and Dean, the young man Ruby pushed away while she was too busy hating her mother, and another involving Dean and his gay brother, Eric, now dying of cancer--conveniently, Dean and Eric are staying on a neighboring island, trying to get reacquainted. In all cases, Hannah's prescription for saving shaky relationships is the same: talk and forgiveness. The cozy sentimentality may appeal to fans of confessional talk shows--others will want to give Hannah's latest a miss. (Mar.)Forecast: Crown is backing Summer Island with a first printing of 125,000, advertising in major national publications and a teaser excerpt in Ballantine's mass market edition of Angel Falls, due out this month, but it's unlikely that this by-the-numbers offering will expand the author's reader base.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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When pornographic pictures from Nora’s past emerge, proving that she had an affair while married, her image of being a family values icon are shattered, and her career is in tatters.
Ruby’s career has never gotten started, but the downfall of her mother leads to opportunities for her. Ruby has been angry with her mother since she abandoned Ruby and her sister Caroline when they were young.
Nora wants to hide out from the media and the world on their house on Summer Island, but a car accident means that she needs help. Ruby comes to help her mother—and gather material for the tell-all article she’s been given big bucks to write.
While the ending is not some big twist, there is romance and nostalgia that make this an enjoyable read. More important, this book is about the complex bonds of family, specifically mother/daughter relationships.
Things change when Nora's fans turn against her after a secret in her past is made public by a would-be blackmailer. When Nora is hurt in a car accident, she flees to the family summer cottage to recover from her injuries and get away from the tabloid press. When Ruby surprisingly volunteers to come to the summer cottage to take care of her mother while she recovers, Nora is hopeful this will lead to a reconciliation with her daughter. What Nora doesn't know is that Ruby has accepted $50,000 to write a "tell all" magazine article about her mother.
This sounds like the makings of a good story (and I haven't even mentioned the rekindling of a childhood romance storyline, or the childhood friend who is now dying storyline). The book isn't bad, but it did fall a bit flat for me. It probably didn't help that Ruby isn't the most sympathetic character.
"Summer Island" was not nearly as compelling a story as Kristin Hannah's "The Nightingale", an historical fiction about two sisters during the Second World War. Nor was it as enjoyable a read as "Firefly Lane", about two best friends during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. I think this book deserves 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because of the goodwill left over from prior books I've read by this author. And because I look forward to reading another Kristin Hannah book soon.
I love her books and the messages she brings in each one!!! She is one of my favorite authors, because when I pick up one of her books, I know for sure that I will need to plan on not wanting to put it down once I start reading!