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A Hundred Summers - Beatriz Williams I don't know about you, but I rarely have truly visceral reactions to books. I obviously love reading and get really excited about them sometimes, but I can't remember the last time that I was so thrown by a plot twist that I've reared back in my chair, shouted creative expletives, and slapped something.

I got to a certain point in A Hundred Summers, though, and that's exactly what happened. I had to slap something.

Graham gettin' it on with the teenage neighbor?


When I was the merchandising supervisor in my bookselling days, I always put together an endcap of beach reads for the summer months. I went through the shelves and grabbed anything with images of sand and surf on the cover. It's actually a little disheartening how many women's fiction books have such similar covers and it's easy to dismiss them all as homogeneous, mindless stories of sex and crying.

If I were still in merchandising, I'd be putting this book up on top of the endcap: the cover fits in thematically (though a little more interesting than most) but it's also the best kind of diversionary reading. It's a little fluffy -- kind of soapish, even -- but it's so well done that I didn't really even notice.

This is a love-and-backstabbing story set in 1930s New England. In 1938, Lily Dane is summering in Rhode Island with her mother, Aunt Julie, and young sister Kiki when an unwelcome blast from the past shows up: her former best friend Budgie and former fiancee Nick -- newly married to each other. The story flashes back and forth between the "present day" and 1931, when the two women were in college and Lily was first meeting Nick. As the story unravels, we learn why their relationship fell apart, secrets come spilling out, and the drama ratchets up.

This is definitely a plot-driven book and the characters aren't the most well-developed or dimensional, but it's fairly well-written and I found myself completely absorbed. I liked how Williams handled the back-and-forth storytelling, slowly revealing pieces of the plot, and I was genuinely shocked by many of the plot twists. This isn't great literature, but it will surely make for a great weekend of reading in the sun.

Sorry, I don't do the beach. Or the pool. This girl doesn't swim, hates sand, and is practically bathing suit-phobic. So it would be a lie to say this was my beach read. I imagine it could be yours, but I read it mostly while sitting on dry land in a park.