Old friendships--and love--make all things new again.The acclaimed author of Safe Harbor and other New York Times bestsellers returns to the seaside, delving into the heart of a once happy family facing troubled waters.
Heartwarming and assured, Rice's latest novel (after The Secret Hour) addresses timeless themes and will linger with readers long after the reading is done. For years, Bay McCabe has kept her family together despite her husband's unfaithfulness. When Sean disappears one afternoon, she discovers that he has embezzled money from many in their small seaside town. Suddenly, Bay and her three children are besieged by the press, isolated from their community and broke. The eventual discovery of Sean's dead body raises larger questions like why he stole, who helped him and whether he might have been murdered. One clue reconnects Bay with widower Daniel Connolly, a boat builder with whom she shared a teenage attraction. As solid as Sean was slick, Daniel rekindles Bay's affections even as his troubled daughter Eliza helps Bay's daughter Annie cope with the summer's horrors. But when it turns out that Danny's late wife may have been entangled with Sean, their tenuous tie threatens to break. Rich with scenic settings and colorful characters, this is a beautifully crafted novel despite some 11th-hour plot contrivances. Rice's ability to evoke the lyricism of the seaside lifestyle without over-sentimentalizing contemporary issues like adultery, anorexia or white-collar crime is just one of the many gifts that make this a perfect summer read. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice
That was Bay McCabe's thought as she stood in her backyard, a basket of just-washed clothes at her feet, a late-afternoon sea breeze blowing off the Sound. The garden was spectacular this year: Old roses, hollyhocks, delphinium, day lilies, and Rosa rugosa were in bloom. Birds dipped into the water pooled in a rock cleft, and thick green stonecrop softened the contours of granite ledge.
Bay felt almost shocked with the beauty of it all, and she forced herself to put down the clothespins and pay attention. Life is made up of golden moments: She had learned that at her grandmother's knee.
Annie and Billy were at the beach with friends, and Peg was at Little League practice. It was a rare thing for Bay to have the house and yard to herself during the summer, and she intended to take advantage of every minute. She had called Sean at the bank, to remind him of his promise to pick up Peg from practice. Bay had met her best friend, Tara O'Toole, at the beach for a swim, and now she was going to hang the wash on the line and wait for everyone to come home for dinner.
Sunlight streamed down on her red hair and freckled arms. She wore shorts and a sleeveless white shirt, and she worked quickly, from years of watching her grandmother. Mary O'Neill had shown her how it was done: one wooden clothespin in her mouth, the other clipping sheets to the line. Sean teased that the neighbors would judge them, think he wasn't making enough money if his wife had to hang laundry out to dry.
He even wanted to hire a gardener. Never mind that digging in the dirt was one of her favorite things, that trying to outdo Tara in the competition--the only real one between them: to grow the tallest sunflowers and hollyhocks and most beautiful roses and prettiest pots of lemon-drop marigolds--gave her reason to get up at dawn every morning.
Every morning, she went out to water the garden during the quiet hour before anyone else woke up, waving at Tara doing the same thing in her garden across the creek, then returning inside to make breakfast. All through the day, while her kids were out and about, she would return to the garden to nurture her plants--pruning, watering, feeding the roots. How could Sean not understand how important that was to her How could he really think that Mary O'Neill's granddaughter would ever let her garden be cared for by a stranger
Bay just laughed and kissed Sean, said he was too good to worry about what people thought about a little dirt under her fingernails or a few sheets flapping on the line. Her granny was from the old country, and Bay was a banker's wife, but she had learned the simple pleasures as a child and never forgotten them. When she had finished hanging the laundry, the bright clothes looked sharp against the blue sky: signal flags in a painting.
"Mom," Billy called, tearing around the corner of the white-shingled house. He had wet hair, sandy feet, and a wild look in his blue eyes that revealed his worry that something in life might happen without him. "What are we doing tonight Are we going miniature golfing after dinner, like Dad said Because if we are, can I ask Russell to come with us "
"Sure, honey," Bay said, smiling at her eleven-year-old son. He had his father's golden coloring; even with sunblock, his skin turned honey brown and, to his sisters' chagrin, didn't freckle. "Where's Annie "