I planned to read A Summer Affair on the beach but I ended up reading it in my bed. Good thing, because I would have been absorbed so long there wouldn’t have been enough aloe in the world to soothe the sunburn I would have gotten.
It’s the perfect book for the beach. There is some brainy-ness: descriptions of the mechanics of glassblowing are given some play as well as minutia of mothering (which might only be interesting to those us who chase errant toys on a daily basis, I don‘t know): the main character takes care of all those little details that mothers care for. Instead of a complete turn-off-your-brain escape (like a medieval bodice-ripper would be) this story has the comfort of familiarity. It’s a pleasant juxtaposition to sit down for once indulgently lazing about with a book and read about a main character who rushes around tending to needs of her small, hungry, growing people. It's even better if you can secure a few uninterrupted hours when they can take their emergencies to someone else.
And so the main character in the story also experiences this contrast; her real-life-with-family could not be more different than the tony world she’s introduced to with fine wine and time donated to charity for “those less fortunate". As the pressure in both worlds increases she is constantly escaping one for the other. The tension between the obligations of motherhood and the mother’s artistic endeavors (she is a glassblower) is also explored, in occasionally painfully obvious ways. But let’s all face it: we read on the beach and expect our thinking done for us. So “obvious” is a good thing in this case.
The last half of this novel goes so fast that I put on a movie and fed my children cookies and jellybeans in order to finish. I don’t want to spoil, but with a story like this with an artistic glassblower on an emotional high-wire act there is no way in hell that thing ain’t gonna shatter (if I wrote the book I wouldn't let it survive either). It was the why and the how that was so interesting, and the masterfully fast pace of the later chapters that kept me going.
And no, it wasn’t what I expected.
It is a delicous and filling serving of summer fare. Happy reading :)