9780425270035

A HUNDRED SUMMERS

Beatriz Williams

Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene,

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Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction…and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.

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Paperback

Price: $16.00

ISBN: 9780425270035

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Hardcover

Price: $26.95

ISBN: 9780399162169

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About Beatriz Williams

Beatriz Williams lives with her husband and children in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the author of Overseas.

Praise

“[A] fast-paced love story…the scorching sun illuminates a friend’s betrayal and reignites a romance.”O, The Oprah Magazine

“Perfect for fans of the Gossip Girl series.”People

“Summer of 1938: A scandalous love triangle and a famous hurricane converge in a New England beach community. Add in a betrayal between friends, a marriage for money, and a Yankee pitcher, and it’s a perfect storm.”Good Housekeeping

“A candidate for this year’s big beach read.”Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions

There are recurring themes of illusion versus reality. For example, Budgie, the apparent prototype of beauty and femininity, actually has a rotten, ugly core. What other examples in the book reinforce this interplay of façade versus truth?

How does the Greenwalds’ white, modern, renovated house serve as a metaphor for what is happening, and ultimately happens, to Nick and Budgie’s marriage?

The structure of the book—alternating passages of past and present—creates tension from chapter to chapter. How else might the structure reinforce the themes of the book, and in what ways does the past interfere with the present?

Several of the characters are drawn as opposites of each other, such as Lily and Budgie. But what about Aunt Julie? How does she complicate these dualities and how does she move the story forward?

Lily’s narration is filtered through different lenses: the lens of youth, the lens of alcohol, the lens of retrospect, and even that of love. How do these affect the way in which Lily tells the story?

Occasionally, the author breaks the “third wall,” and Lily directly addresses the reader. For example: “I’ll tell you, the things we got up to in Seaview.” Why do you think the author makes this choice and what effect does it create?

During Lily’s confrontation with her mother, Aunt Julie says, “You’re not in a goddamned Greek tragedy here.” But how does the storyline echo a Greek tragedy, and where do we see the classic elements of betrayal, love, loss, and pride? Who could qualify as a “tragic hero?”

In the opening of Chapter 22, Lily narrates Seaview’s beauty as seen through the eyes of a stranger, and then notes that she is “used to” Seaview’s beauty. What else are the characters so “used to” that they fail to see it? In other words, what “discoveries” are hiding in plain sight?

Lily occasionally “zooms out” to see herself and at one point observes a “thin-skinned vessel of Lily.” What might Lily not see about herself, despite her attempts at objectivity?

The storm hits at the climax of the story, when the hidden truths come pouring out. When the skies clear, the two most malicious characters are dead. How does that comment on the storm’s function in the story?

Lily’s mother is absent much of the story—Lily references her, or we see her from afar. Why do you think the author chose to keep her largely offstage until the climactic confrontation?

It’s been said that “children inherit the sins of their parents.” Lily suffers this fate in a clear way, while Kiki manages to avoid it. What are the more subtle ways in the story that characters fall victim to, or perpetuate, a cycle? What about in your own life?

The story is told against the backdrop of several important historical events: prohibition, World War II, and of course, the great storm of 1938. How do these historical events impact the fictitious world of the characters? Could this story have been told in another time?