REVIEW: Summer Reading by Hilma Wolitzer

TITLE: Summer Reading
AUTHOR: Hilma Wolitzer
GENRE: Contemporary, Adult, Women’s Fiction/Chick-Lit
Can reading change your life?
Following her acclaimed novel The Doctor’s Daughter, award-winning author Hilma Wolitzer has now written a stirring tale about friendship, romance, inspiration, longing, and, especially, the love of good books. Summer Reading offers a seductive glimpse into the intersecting lives of three very different women.
Summer in the Hamptons means crowded beaches during the day and lavish parties in the evening, but Angela Graves, a retired English professor, prefers the company of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Charlotte Bronte. Her only steady social contacts are with the women in the reading groups she leads, among them, is wealthy Lissy Snyder, a beautiful newlywed who hosts the twice-monthly meetings of the Page Turners and takes pains to hide a reading disability and her emotional neediness. Hamptons local Michelle Cutty, Lissy’s housecleaner, eavesdrops on the group’s discussions-of books and gossip-when she’s not snooping through Lissy’s closets.
All three women secretly struggle with troubling personal issues that threaten the tenuous balance of their lives: Lissy, abandoned by her father in childhood, is now the unwilling stepmother of her husband’s hostile children; Michelle, resentful of the moneyed arrogance of the jet-setting, seasonal “invaders,” can’t secure a commitment from her fisherman boyfriend; and solitary, bookish Angela still bears the shameful memory of a disastrous love affair that took place long ago.
As Angela encourages the Page Turners to identify with the literary heroines of Trollope and Flaubert, the books-in fact, the act of reading itself-will influence the tough choices the women must make. Stunningly evocative and richly imagined, Summer Reading explores the meaning and consequences of living an authentic life.
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This book for me is okay. I like it but I am just looking for more and it did not give that “more” I am looking for. It is written in a beautiful and creative way. The story is just okay for me. It is a simple and light read which tells us things about life, love, self-realizations, and our relationship with other people.
The characters are all different from one another, but somehow in their life experiences and some feelings they are alike. They are experiencing issues about acceptance from other people, self-acceptance, and betrayal. I think they are pretty relatable women because their thoughts and what they do are what actual women think and do, especially when it comes to family and love. It’s good that the author achieved character development in this novel. The alternating point of views also helped in looking deeply into the characters’ lives, emotions, and thoughts.
What I like most about this novel is that it really makes any reader of it realize that literature can change lives. I believe that literature is really powerful. It inspires people. It makes people aware, sensitive, and reflect on life.
I also love how it touches the subject of living your life to the fullest and to the way you want it to be and not on how others expect you to live, and to do the things you want to do with passion and with no hesitations.
It also says (though not in the direct way) that we should be thankful of what and who we have, and to be not insecure with other people around us. We should not be thinking that other people are perfect and are living a perfect life with the perfect persons. We all have our struggles in life, so we should not say that, “I wish I was him/her.”
It is a good novel, but I think it can be better. The writer, I believe, can do so much more to make this book a better one.
I am looking forward to reading more novels by Hilma Wolitzer because I can see that she has a good potential in writing.
If you want a simple, light, funny, creative, relatable, and inspirational read, then I think you should give this book a try.


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