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The Summer Wives Bets On...

The Summer Wives

July 2018

Beatriz Williams is an author who I have been following for a while. Her latest book, THE SUMMER WIVES, which I think is her best yet, is an atmospherically rich story full of detail and brilliantly drawn characters. Here she explores another branch of the Schuyler family. It opens in late spring 1969 on a small island off the coast of New England, and the setting alone makes it a lovely summer read. In it, Miranda Schuyler is an actress who has come back to town to hide out and lick her wounds after fleeing a troubled marriage in London and a career on the skids. She heads back to Greyfriars, the palatial Fisher home, on Winthrop Island.

Miranda first came to the island in 1951 when her widowed mother was about to be married to Hugh Fisher. There she met her stepsister, Isobel, who has lived a life of luxury --- something that is new for Miranda. But she also sees class distinction here between the island owners and those who work there, including some Portuguese fishermen, one of whom, Joseph Vargas, catches her eye. Events then had her spurned from the island, so her return now is surprising to many. With careful plotting, Beatriz unravels secrets and long-held conflicts.

THE SUMMER WIVES is set in the '30s, the '50s and the '60s. Beatriz started writing the section in the '50s and realized there needed to be more of a back story, so the portion in the '30s was fleshed out. When she writes different time periods, she fleshes out each one completely before intertwining them. They come together seamlessly. She loves writing about the first part of the 20th century, noting that so much happened in the years leading up to the '50s. In the '50s she feels things quieted down a bit, almost like we needed to catch our breaths as a country. And then the '60s rolled in.

The true joy is that, once you finish THE SUMMER WIVES, if you have not read Beatriz’s books before, you will have lots more to enjoy!

The Summer Wives
by Beatriz Williams