The Last Summer
In the turbulent summer of 1968, Lane Hillman, fresh out of Harvard, is spending one more summer working for his father, John Hillman, the editor of a small newspaper in an unnamed Cape Cod town. Lane is going to work for VISTA in the fall and, if his conscientious objector status is rejected by his draft board, may go to Vietnam. Into his quiet privileged world comes Claire Malek, a divorced single mom running from a disastrous affair with her boss. Returning to New England, she impulsively walks into the newspaper office looking for a job as a secretary. John Hillman needs a reporter, and without giving it any further thought, she takes the job.
As the larger events of the time play out on the national stage, the sleepy town has its first murder in over 20 years. Claire at first only writes obits, but soon she is covering other events. As she and Lane are thrown together, she realizes that he is attracted to her. However, she is fifteen years his senior and reluctant to encourage any friendship. But love and nature cannot be denied, and soon they are fully immersed in an affair.
This is a bittersweet book, more a love story than a historical. It is well written, with appealing, fully fleshed-out characters. Perhaps there is that one special summer in all of our lives; this one is certainly special to Lane and Claire. The author deftly captures the feel of small towns of the era.