I am doing well with my 20 Books of Summer list with books 3 & 4 listened to, enjoyed and reviewed. Scroll down to see what I thought. Both of these books were provided to me by the publisher upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own. I was also able to get a copy of the audiobook, so listened to them as well as having the ebook to read along when I wanted to do that.

The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner, Sutton Foster (Narrator)

Published May 10th 2022 by Simon & Schuster Audio, Atria Books

3.5 Stars:

The Summer Place was a book I was highly anticipating for my 20 Books of Summer, and although I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t the summery, beach read I was expecting. This is a story about family, their trials and tribulations that is set in many places, with only some set at the beach. It flashes back and forth as we learn the backstories of Veronica Levy, her children Sam and Sara and Sara’s husband and step-daughter. Ruby brings it all to the head when she plans to get married at Ronnie’s summer home with all the family together for the first time in a long time.

This was more of a family saga with secrets that could have destroyed a lot of lives depending on how they were revealed. The main characters, Ruby, Sarah and her husband Eli, and Sam are all likable, but all have flaws. They need to evaluate their lives and what they want for the rest of it, in order to be happy. I did like all the main characters despite their flaws, and I wanted them all to be happy. There are some secrets that need to be revealed and things to be resolved that direct their actions, but all is sorted by the end of the book. Part of the story is set during the covid crisis, and while it is not a huge part of the story, it does influence some decisions made. There was infidelity, child abandonment, and hidden homosexuality, but also family love, loyalty and decisions to make as you grow up. There were parts of the story that dragged, but for the most part this was an enjoyable women’s fiction story, but don’t expect a light and easy beach read. I did a read/listen and found the audiobook made it an easy listen. Sutton Foster does a nice job with the narration. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, Lauren Graham (Narrator)

Published March 1st 2022 by Simon & Schuster Audio, Atria Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Katy and her mom Carol are a mother/daughter duo that are best friends. Katy doesn’t make a decision until she talks to her mom and gets her opinion, usually following her advice, even to the detriment of her own relationship with her husband. When her mother dies suddenly, Katy is set adrift. They had recently planned a vacation to Positano, Italy, the place Carol had vacationed the summer before meeting Katy’s father, so Katy decides to go, alone. When Katy arrives, she feels her mother’s spirit and walks in her footprints to experience the Amalfi Coast, the same way her mother had. At this point the story has a timeslip, as Carol appears to Katy in person, as the young woman she was on her trip there years before. Katy comes to know her mother in a different way and learn a secret that will change her life forever.

If you read Rebecca Serle’s previous book, In Five Years, you would be prepared for the timeslip that occurs in this story, so I was fine with this turn of events, some people were not. I loved the setting of this story. The Amalfi Coast was beautifully described and I felt that I was travelling in Italy with Katy. The people she meets are an important part of her journey as she gets to know her mother in a very different way. There were many times that I got frustrated with Katy and wanted her to grow up, one of the results of the over-protective, smothering relationship she and Carol had. Grief makes you do some things you might not otherwise do, and I did like the way Katy processed that. The ending was a bit of a surprise and was well written to bring closure to elements of the story. The best thing about this story was the setting and descriptive writing, but I also liked seeing Katy self-reflect and make decisions about what steps would come next in her life. Overall an interesting read, but not as enjoyable as had anticipated.