Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Toni's Review of Summer Friends By Holly Chamberlin ***3.5 Stars***



In this compelling novel set against the beautiful backdrop of Ogunquit, Maine, the bestselling author of Tuscan Holiday and One Week in December portrays an unexpected friendship, and its consequences for two very different women as time inevitably sweeps them into adulthood. . .

Over the course of one eventful summer, nine-year-old native Mainer Delphine Crandall and Maggie Weldon, a privileged girl "from away," become best friends. Despite the social gulf between them, their bond is strengthened during vacations spent rambling around Ogunquit's beaches and quiet country lanes, and lasts throughout their college years in Boston. It seems nothing can separate them, yet after graduation, Delphine and Maggie slowly drift in different directions. . .

With her MBA, Maggie acquires a lucrative career, and eventually marries. Delphine is drawn back home, her life steeped in family and the Maine community she loves. Twenty years pass, until one summer, Maggie announces she's returning to Ogunquit to pay an extended visit. And for the first time, the friends are drawn to reflect on their choices and compromises, the girls they were and the women they've become, the promises kept and broken—and the deep, lasting ties that even time can never quite wash away. . .

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“Summer Friends” is a story of love and friendship. What would you do to win a friend back? How long is too long to rekindle a friendship? Would you give up on life and love to do your family duty?

The innocence of first love and friendship can be destroyed in an instant. Delphine and Maggie couldn’t be more different as children. They become instant friends and the love and companionship seems to be strong and healthy until events unfold for these two young women. Questions are left unanswered and dreams are left unfulfilled. Two broken hearts drift apart, lonely and shattered.

Delphine Crandall is a woman who lives for her family and community. She feels secure and protected by all that is around her. Once a vivacious and seeming adventurous child, Delphine is now a stoic self sacrificing adult. What changed her perception in life? Delphine is content and happy at 49. That is until an old friend comes to visit. Her forgotten past that she buried away comes rushing back. Never wanting to revisit lost opportunities and regrets, Delphine does not welcome her friend back with open arms.

Maggie Weldon has a charmed life. She has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters and a fulfilling career. Something is missing and she believes she knows what it is, her friend Delphine. Her friend has always held a special place in her heart and she misses what they had. Never one to give up, Maggie decides to drag Delphine back into her life, even if she fights her the whole way. She knows what they had will last a lifetime and she is done waiting for Delphine to come to her.

Twenty years ago, Delphine walked away from a promising life and Maggie. The mystery of that departure has plagued both women, but in different ways. This story is about a journey of forgiveness and revelations. Ms. Chamberlin eases us through the years, from the beginning to the end. Taking us through the process of discovery that is frustrating and gratifying. Delphine’s reasons for her drastic change in early adulthood, is described in a slow thought out process. Maggie’s own discovery of her unsatisfying life is also revealed. Together the women realize what friendship is really about and come away stronger women.

“Summer Friends” is a thought provoking book. It makes you look at yourself in a different way, making you question past choices and decisions. While the book is a slow read I believe it works. Self reflection sometimes can’t be thrown in your face. You need to sit back and allow it to flow over you and sink in. Pick up “Summer Friends” to read about the beauty of commitment between two people that can last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading - Toni

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