Thursday, July 21, 2022

Book Review: The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White

Pages: 393
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 17, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Authors: The Glass Ocean,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "2019: Andie Figuero has just landed her dream job as a producer of Mansion Makeover, a popular reality show about restoring America's most lavish historic houses. Andie has high hopes for her latest project: the once glorious but gently crumbling Sprague Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, summer resort of America's gilded class--famous for the lavish "summer cottages" of Vanderbilts and Belmonts. But Andie runs into trouble: the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia "Lucky" Sprague, will only allow the show to go forward on two conditions: One, nobody speaks to her. Two, nobody touches the mansion's ruined boathouse. 1899: Ellen Daniels has been hired to give singing lessons to Miss Maybelle Sprague, a naive young Colorado mining heiress whose stepbrother John has poured their new money into buying a place among Newport's elite. John is determined to see Maybelle married off to a fortune-hunting Italian prince, and Ellen is supposed to polish up the girl for her launch into society. But the deceptively demure Ellen has her own checkered past, and she's hiding in plain sight at Sprague Hall. 1958: Lucia "Lucky" Sprague has always felt like an outsider at Sprague Hall. When she and her grandmother--the American-born Princess di Conti--fled Mussolini's Italy, it seemed natural to go back to the imposing Newport house Nana owned but hadn't seen since her marriage in 1899. Over the years, Lucky's lost her Italian accent and found a place for herself among the yachting set by marrying Stuyvesant Sprague, the alcoholic scion of her Sprague stepfamily. But one fateful night in the mansion's old boathouse will uncover a devastating truth...and change everything she thought she knew about her past. As the cameras roll on Mansion Makeover, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever...."


In present day, Andie hosts a TV show called Makeover Mansions that feature prominent homes as they undergo renovations. Andie isn't just a TV personality though, she is an architectural historian, so her interest is piqued when she covers Sprague Hall, a former beautiful Newport mansion.  Not only does her boss want her to include gossip about the families within the episode, she also has to deal with the demands of the Sprague family, such as no asking questions of the matriarch, Lucky, and no working after a particular time.  Flash back to 1899 at Sprague Hall and we meet Ellen Daniels, a music teacher, hired to help Maybelle Sprague attract potential suitors, specifically an Italian prince.  Maybelle's stepbrother doesn't really care about Maybelle, he just wants her married off.  Then jump to 1957 at Sprague Hall and we meet a much younger Lucky who is married to a less than stellar man, while her heart belongs to her friend from childhood.  As we encounter the Sprague family throughout the years, secrets slowly float to the surface and even a murder mystery.  The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White have everything that fans of Team W have come to expect: romance, a beautiful setting, historical details, and a plot that will keep readers flipping the pages.

Starting in 1899, we meet Ellen and Maybelle, whom I felt badly for in The Lost Summers of Newport.  Due to the constraints of being a woman during the time period, Maybelle didn't have many options. Even though she is an heiress, her duty was to marry well and it was clear her stepbrother did not have her best interests in mind. He only cares about himself. He demands that Maybelle learn to sing in order to impress the Italian prince, who appreciates music. This is where Ellen comes in as she is a music teacher, at least we thought she was one. Slowly we learn more about Ellen and her background and how what happens between Maybelle and Ellen will reverberate throughout Sprague family history.

Next up is Lucky in the 1950s, and I preferred her story line the most. I really liked Lucky and appreciated her spunky behavior even though I didn't always agree with her decisions. She, like her grandmother Maybelle, has a lot to deal with due to the Sprague men.  Lucky is determined to turn her life around though and she has her eyes set on her longtime childhood friend/love interest as her relationship with her husband is greatly deteriorating, not to mention her father-in-law is a major piece of work. Lucky does have a child, Joanie, to consider though, which definitely complicates things, as she can't just leave abruptly.

Fast forward to present day, Andie is the host of a TV show and really is disturbed by the fact that she has to feature a lot of family gossip and not a lot of architectural details. However, she can't be picky, because she needs this job.  The demands that the Sprague family places on her becomes a lot (the one daughter doesn't even want them filming!) and she really just wants to talk to Lucky as she knows she will get most of her answers from her.  Slowly, Andie uncovers the secrets and mysteries surrounding Sprague Hall.

I loved the setting of Newport in The Lost Summers of Newport. I thought Team W really brought it to life well to the point where I want to visit Newport immediately! I would love to take in all the beautiful homes from a bygone era.  I thought the historical details throughout were also well done and it was easily to feel a strong sense of place despite the three different time periods. Which brings me to the sweeping multi-generational saga that is The Lost Summers of Newport. I loved following Sprague Hall throughout the generations as this helped me to become more invested in the family mysteries.

Historical fiction lovers, you won't want to miss this one! I highly recommend The Lost Summers of Newport. So, are you a fan of Team W? Have you read any of their other books? Have you read The Lost Summers of Newport? Let me know in the comments below. 



  1. I loved this book and it will definitely be one of my favorites of the year! The Newport setting was amazing and I loved revisiting all those places I've been to before!

    1. I agree! I hope to visit Newport some day. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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