The Sunday Salon-Summer Reading

The Sunday

 The light in Angela’s backyard was dappled by the trees, as it always was in the full of their season, but there was enough of it to read by.  She’d cut the grass that morning, and it’s fragrance still lingered.  The family of birds that made their home in her yard – red-breasted nuthatches, according to the bird book – twittered and shook the leaves overhead, but when she looked up she couldn’t see them.  They were alive and hidden, like the past, or the future.  She opened the book on her chest and put one foot down on the grass to make the hammock rock.  It was like pushing out to sea in a rowboat.  So this is summer reading, she thought….from Summer Reading, by Hilma Wolitzer

Ah, Michigan, finally you’re fulfilling the promise of spring.  I bustled through the house today, throwing wide all the windows, dusting off long unused blades of ceiling fans, rummaging through the piles of boots on my closet floor to find my most  comfortable sandals.   Today offered us every element of the summer weather to come, complete with a thunderstorm which blustered through just after dinner.

So it was the perfect day to finish Summer Reading(the novel) and begin to think about summer reading (in general).  Although I didn’t have a hammock to relax in, I dragged my Adirondack chairs into the middle of the backyard, and with Magic and Molly happily stretched out in the green grass at my feet,  set to reading.

Summer Readingis about three very different women whose lives intersect through reading.  There’s  Angela Graves, a retired English professor who leads reading groups; Lissy Snyder, a young society wife spending her first summer in the Hamptons; and Michelle Cutty, a local girl who works as Lissy’s summer “help.”  Each woman is struggling with personal issues surrounding their relationships and their past, and each woman finds enlightenment of sorts in the summer reading Angela sets the group.  Angela believes that literature “teaches us how to live,” and as her group studies the words of  authors from Flaubert (Madame Bovary) to Garcia-Marquez (Love in the Time of Cholera), their summer reading appears to prove this theory. 

While the premise might sound cliche, award winning author Hilma Wolitzer makes the novel work very well.  It was  actually  the perfect way to get in the mood for planning my own summer bookstack.  Although I’ve read nearly all the novels taken up by the Page Turners (the aptly named reading group in Wolitzer’s novel), I’m sure I’ll find plenty of others to pique my interest.   After reading this novel, I was in complete agreement with this assessment of Angela’s – “the never ending marvel of other people’s lives was precisely what she had always loved in literature.”

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9 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon-Summer Reading

  1. How is it that I have not heard of this book? You, oh deliverer of good news?

    And you have spring!! Here, today, it was summer, flat out, 95 degrees. A heat wave already. I will rely on you to keep me in spring for the next few weeks.

  2. What a great sounding book to go with this fine fine weather we all were awarded this weekend! And it takes place in the Hamptons? Oh, Becca, I now have a wonderful task this week – find the book, either at the bookstore or the library. Cheers to wearing sandals!

  3. Our tulips are up! I had despaired of any leaves until May but the tulips are up, our patch of garden is suddenly green and the Japanese lilac has leaves coming out. Thank you for the review! I’ll be interested to see what your summer reading is.

  4. What a delightful-sounding book! I haven’t seen it over here, yet, but maybe it will make it in time for summer! We are having a period of lovely weather at the moment, and I always fear it means that nothing nice will happen weather-wise now until late July. But we shall live in hope…. 🙂

  5. I’ve looked at this book before and wasn’t sure about it based on the little I knew and the cover. But, your review has convinced me that it just may be the perfect book for me right now. Thanks, Becca!

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