Book Review: A CERTAIN SUMMER by Patricia Beard

Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

“Nothing ever changes at Wauregan.” That mystique is the tradition of the idyllic island colony off the shore of Long Island, the comforting tradition that its summer dwellers have lived by for over half a century. But in the summer of 1948, after a world war has claimed countless men—even those who came home—the time has come to deal with history’s indelible scars.

Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war.

Part mystery, part love story, and part insider’s view of a very private world, A Certain Summer resonates in the heart long after the last page is turned.

A CERTAIN SUMMER is a bittersweet story set just after the end of World War II. It’s 1948, and on the summer getaway island of Wauregan, the residents are having a difficult time adjusting to the new normal. Men back from the war are silently suffering from the horrors they experienced, and their wives feel helpless. Widows are grieving the deaths of their husbands and trying to forge ahead as single parents, and the wives of men missing in action are living in an agonizing limbo.

Helen Wadsworth’s husband Arthur went missing during the war, and she longs for closure for herself and her teenage son, Jack. As she waits for word on Arthur, Helen has two men vying for her attention – Frank, her husband’s OSS partner, and Peter, a Marine who fought in the Pacific. Helen’s character was strong, and she was easy to sympathize with. This book was a journey of discoveries for Helen – uncovering the truth and rediscovering love.

The plot moved slowly at first, but it really grabbed me at the halfway point. There were a few nail-biting scenes that kept me flipping the pages, and the ending was amazing. The author presented a memorable and moving account of life post-WWII through the eyes of her characters. With the island setting, a bit of romance, and a bit of mystery, this was a satisfying summer read.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.