All this nostalgia for past seasons of home-churned ice cream, lightning bugs in Mason jars, and playing outside until nightfall set me to thinking about the books of summer. These books include books for children, adolescents, and adults; books labeled fantasy, women’s fiction, and romances, historical and contemporary; and books from the long past and the recent past, all of them from my past.
1. The Distant Summer by Sarah Patterson (1976)
The year is 1943, the place is England, and Kate has fallen in love with Johnny, a rear gunner who thinks he’s a bad risk for survival and for love. This is a YA book about first love, written by the daughter of author Jack Higgins when she herself was a teen, but it has an honesty and poignancy that should appeal to adult readers as well. This one’s OOP, but you can find copies in some libraries.
2. Summer Campaign by Carla Kelly (1989)
Another book in which war and its effects on lives lies at its center. Major Jack Beresford, a veteran of Badajoz, is battle weary after four years in Spain fighting the French. War has exacted a price from Onyx Hamilton too; her twin brother died on the battlefield. How these two meet, fall in love, and heal one another is vintage Kelly. Despite Kelly’s usual refusal to prettify war, this story includes laughter and warmth and a love story that lingers in a reader’s heart.
3. That Camden Summer by LaVyrle Spencer (1996)
Spencer takes her readers to the summer of 1916. Roberta Jewett has returned to Camden, Maine, after eighteen years. A divorcee, with three daughters, she is viewed as little better than a prostitute by the townspeople, including some member of her own family. Before the summer is over, she proves her independence, survives a brutal attack, exposes the town’s hypocrisy, and finds a love beyond her dreams.
4. Summer Reading Is Killing Me by Jon Scieszka (2000)
This book, part of Scieszka’s Time Warp Trio series, is Jasper Fforde for the under-twelve crowd. And it’s sure to leave adult bibliophiles laughing with delight. The Time Warp trio--Sam, Fred, and Joe—find themselves trapped in book, chased by a 266-pound chicken as they try to get their summer reading list out of “The Book,” the one that propels them out of their time into hair-raising adventures. With sentences like "We made our way through a crowd of Robinson Crusoe, a blue moose, Julie with some wolves, a snowman, a plain and tall lady named Sarah, a kid with a hatchet, and a very confused-looking Robin Hood helping Eeyore reattach his tail," Scieszka evokes laughter and provides an opportunity for adult readers to get in a plug for other books. My favorite part comes when the trio has to accept help from a girl, even though they don’t know who she is because, you know, guys don’t read girl books. :)
5. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn (2001)
This was my first Sharon Shinn book. I read it after learning that she had read—and reread—every book by Emilie Loring, the author who served as my introduction to adult romance novels the summer I turned ten. It’s part fairy tale, part romance, part coming-of-age story and wholly enchanting. Coriel, the illegitimate offspring of a nobleman and a wise woman, spends nine months of the year with her grandmother, learning from her, and summers with her lovely, loving, high-born sister, Elisandra, at Castle Auburn. As the years pass, the idyll ends, the prince proves a jerk, the knowledge of evil erodes innocence, and Corie becomes a woman.
6. A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh (2002)
This is one Balogh I almost skipped because I didn’t find Lauren Edgeworth at all appealing in One Night for Love. I’m glad I trusted Balogh because Lauren and Kit ended up being one of my favorite Balogh couples. I loved watching Lauren leave propriety and perfection behind for one summer’s adventure, and I thought she and Kit balanced one another wonderfully. Sydnam, Kit’s brother, is a plus. From the moment I met him in ASTR, I longed for him to win his own HEA.
7. Girls of Summer by Barbara Bretton (2003)
I miss Barbara Bretton’s women’s fiction novels, and this one, along with the other book in this series, A Soft Place to Fall, are particular favorites. Set in the small town of Shelter Rock, Maine, Girls of Summer is the story of Ellen Markowitz whose life was forever changed the summer she was fourteen when she learned that the man she calls father is not really her father and she is forced to spend summers with her biological father and two half-sisters. Now Ellen is an OB-GYN, and she has just endangered her professional reputation and a valued friendship by sleeping with her partner, Dr. Hall Talbot. Even moving into her dream house and the unexpected arrival of her younger half-sister, Deirdre, fail to move Ellen from her preoccupation with what she is certain was an enormous mistake. Family dynamics, shifts in friendships, and two romances provide tension and tenderness as Ellen comes to terms with who she is and what she wants her life to become.
8. Summer by the Sea by Susan Wiggs (2004)
Susan Wiggs has written a number of summer books: A Summer Affair, the conclusion to her Calhoun Chronicles; Summer at Willow Lake, the introduction to her Lakeshore Chronicles; The Summer Hideaway, #7 in the Lakeshore Chronicles; That Summer Place, an anthology with Jill Barnett and Debbie Macomber; and Summer Brides, an anthology with Susan Mallery and Sherryl Woods. But my favorite is Summer by the Sea, a second-chance-at-love romance with a Romeo and Juliet touch that features Rosa Capoletti, whose award-winning restaurant has been voted “best place to propose” and the wealthy Alexander Montgomery, who disappeared from her life twelve years ago. Summer brings a reunion at the beach house where their relationship began, and it brings a chance to reveal secrets that block the way to their HEA.
9. One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake (2009)
It’s a hot summer in Destiny, Ohio, when good girl Jenny Tolliver, whose faithless husband has just administered a tough lesson in the distance between what people appear to be and what they are, meets bad boy Mick Brody, who’s protecting secrets—including his presence in town. What follows is a mix of sweet and sizzle as Jenny and Mick discover that sometimes a reckless choice is the surest way to happily ever after.
10. The Summer of You by Kate Noble (2010)
I’m not a reader who chooses books by their covers, but I do sometimes choose books based on their titles. I knew from the first time I saw this title that I wanted to read this book. The tale proved to be as seductive and engaging as the title. Although it deals with weighty issues like death, dementia, and despair, it’s a quiet book about two lonely people who over a summer in the Lake District learn they can be their naked selves with one another. I love Jane and Byrne!
Does summer make you nostalgic? Are you a rereader of old favorites? What are your books of summers, past and present?