The Summer Wives

Written by Beatriz Williams
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

A novel about class with a murder mystery mixed in, The Summer Wives is an intriguing summer read that should appease the author’s fans while attracting new ones.

Following a disastrous marriage and a high-profile career as a movie star, Miranda Schuyler arrives back at Winthrop Island, where she spent her formative teenage years as the stepdaughter of Hugh Fisher, the wealthy businessman who marries her beautiful mother. Winthrop Island is an exclusive spot off the coast of Long Island that caters to the richest of the rich.

While on the island as a teenager in the early 1950s, Miranda becomes entrenched in two worlds—through her stepsister, Isobel, she enjoys all the privileges that wealth can bring, but she also befriends Joseph Vargas, a lobster fisherman and the son of a Portuguese lighthouse keeper. During a fateful summer, Miranda straddles two worlds. She leaves the island abruptly after her stepfather is killed, eventually achieving stardom overseas, but is unhappy in her personal life. Ignoring the reaction of the locals, Miranda returns after Joseph, who was accused of the murder, escapes from prison. An alternating storyline features Bianca Mederio, who also has an integral role in the story and represents the working-class segment of the island.

The storyline winds back and forth through the decades, allowing the reader to grasp the characters’ essences. In some ways, the island is a character itself, as it serves as the backdrop for a lifestyle with which the majority of people are unfamiliar; getting a glimpse into this lifestyle and the problems of the rich is almost as intriguing as the plot itself. Richly drawn characters and a few twists make this a good choice for a summer beach read.