A Hundred Summers

Written by Beatriz Williams
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Lily Dane returns to Seaview, Rhode Island, on Memorial Day of 1938 to begin another summer at her family’s home in the quaint oceanside community.  She arrives with her family and six-year-old sister, Kiki, who is lovable and precocious. Seaview’s residents are a close-knit blend of old money socialites and families who traditionally summer and party together. When Budgie and Nick Greenwald arrive, Lily is forced to revisit her painful past.

Lily hasn’t seen Budgie, her best friend from college, and Nick, her ex-fiancé, in seven years. The Greenwalds create fuel for summer gossip not only because Nick is Jewish but because he was once madly in love with Lily.  Tensions among Nick, Budgie and Lily mount as the three try to coexist during the summer season. One day, Graham Pendleton, a celebrated pitcher for the Yankees, arrives in town; Graham and Budgie had had a hot affair in college, but now, oddly, he sets his sights on Lily.

The novel begins several months before the infamous hurricane that decimated the coastal communities of Rhode Island’s South County. Napatree Point in Watch Hill is still a sandbar visited by vacationers, and this setting promises a serene and reflective walk overlooking the turbulent Atlantic.  Seaview is a fictitious community, but Beatriz Williams also captures with journalistic acuity the sudden wrath and destruction witnessed by residents.

The hurricane of 1938 lends a perfect metaphor to the lives of those who spent that summer in Seaview. Beatriz Williams masterfully imbeds unpredictable twists and turns that will transfix readers until the waters of the hurricane subside. It wouldn’t surprise this reviewer that if after reading A Hundred Summers, Napatree Point in Rhode Island is added to many bucket lists.