Friday, May 27, 2022

Audio Book Review: The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Fiction/Audio Book
Pub. Date: May 10, 2022
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Big Summer,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.   When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house on Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.  But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.  When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.  From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us."


Sarah Danhauser's step-daughter, Ruby, is suddenly getting married and it's shocking to some of her family members.  Sarah didn't see this coming as Ruby is still very young (22!) and she hasn't been dating her boyfriend, Gabe, that long.  Sarah thinks that maybe all this time together in close quarters during the pandemic brought the two together quickly.  Sarah's parents have a house on Cape Cod and Sarah's mother, Veronica, is excited to to host Ruby's wedding there. What's better than a family wedding at Cape Cod, especially after the pandemic? What the family doesn't know is that Veronica is putting the house up for sale after the wedding, so this is more than just a party; it's one last hurrah.  Meanwhile, weddings are stressful to plan and this one is no different.  There's Sarah's husband, Eli, who is hiding secrets about his past and is being so secretive at times that Sarah is convinced he is having an affair. Speaking of affairs, Veronica is afraid her past may come back to haunt her and then there's Sarah's twin, Sam, who is hiding secrets of his own and dealing with a possible love life that may implode.  Then there's the bride herself who isn't really 100% sure she should be marrying Gabe. So, I ask what could possibly go wrong?  The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner is a modern family story set on beautiful Cape Cod; it makes for an engrossing beach read.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in The Summer Place, but surprisingly, Weiner does such a good job developing them and giving us their backstories through flashbacks, which is definitely essential as it helps us to understand the many characters better. There's so many much drama! Where should I start? I liked Ruby and the backstory involving her biological mother broke my heart. Ruby didn't have the easiest childhood, but she had a lot of support and once her father married Sarah, she had the family she always dreamed wanted. Ruby is close with Veronica and I loved their relationship and their mutual enjoyment of the beach house.  Her relationship with Gabe was one huge red flag though.  Sarah, while she seems like a decent human being, gets tangled in a mess that makes me question her.  Eli's past is also a bit muddled as well as Veronica's. There's a lot of characters making a lot of poor choices and while I didn't agree with them most of the time, I was completely captivated, much like you would be when you watch a car crash. You just can't turn away! The only character that didn't make me completely cringe was Sam. He is lost in a way after the death of his wife and is trying to figure out where he belongs. He also gets tangled up in some major drama that was extremely cringe-worthy, but he himself isn't a bad guy.  So, needless to say, I didn't really like any of the characters as they were all very complex, but tragically flawed.

Which leads me to the turn of events in  The Summer Place. While I found all the drama extremely entertaining, I also found it unbelievable at times. I mean how many family members can be engaged in that much drama? How many coincidences can play out in one summer? Once I sort of let go of my expectations regarding whether this was plausible, I was able to enjoy the story a bit more as there's a lot of dramatic irony at play as well as misunderstandings that made me shudder. I read somewhere that this novel is similar to A Midsummer Night's Dream and I'd have to agree with that completely! 

I alternated between the advance copy I received for review along with the audio version featuring the incomparable Sutton Foster. I adore her as a actress, but especially as a narrator. I thoroughly enjoyed the audio book and her narration made me feel like I was privy to some juicy gossip while over drinks with the girls.

So, if you are looking for a family drama this summer, check out Weiner's  The Summer Place. While this wasn't my favorite of Weiner's novels, I still thought it was completely absorbing and I just had to know how this disaster of a wedding was going to play out.

Are you a fan of Jennifer Weiner? Is  The Summer Place on your summer TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.



  1. Hmm, sometimes too much drama and too many coincidences can hinder my enjoyment of a book!

    1. Yeah, you really have to let go of a lot of the coincidences. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on this one! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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