The High Season

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

I read a lot of summertime beach books and Judy Blundell has written a great addition to the genre. 

The book focuses on Ruthie, a middle aged soon to be divorced woman who runs a regional museum. She lives on the pricey north fork of Long Island in a gorgeous house she has to rent out every summer to afford the house the rest of the year. The mother of a 15 year old, Ruthie is dealing with how to start again with the responsibilities of single motherhood and the idea her attractiveness is fading. 

This summer's tenant is an old face who brings back memories of Ruthie's past, both what she's given up, and what she has gained. I though the characters were believable and fresh, and I adored the art references peppered throughout. 

I really enjoyed the plot, dialogue and writing style of Ms. Blundell. I hope to enjoy many more books by her.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
Well, this may be my favorite book of the summer and it’s June 2nd. A lot happening with perhaps too many integral characters but the story is woven together flawlessly. The spot-on museum culture made this an even more delightful read for me personally.
Was this review helpful?
Judy Blundell's first novel The High Season (Random House, digital galley, May 22) proves once again that the rich are different from you and me, and it's not just that they have more money. For community museum director Ruthie, the price for living on the North Fork of Long Island is renting out for the summer the big house she shares with her ex-husband and teenage daughter during the winter. This summer, though, wealthy widow Adeline and her spoiled stepson Lucas have taken the house for the entire season, and the Hamptons crowd "discovers'' the North Fork. Everything changes for the village and Ruthie, who soon discovers her so-called friends are a fair-weather bunch of social climbers and back stabbers. I was so happy to close the book on them.
Was this review helpful?
Ruthie is the very successful and beloved director of the local museum in Orient, Long Island, a town not far from the Hamptons and not as wealthy.  She and her husband Mike had purchased their dream home which they turned into a charming summer rental through elbow grease and TLC.  The summer income was the only way they could afford to live in the house the rest of the year so each year they packed up and moved with their 16-year-old daughter into a rental.

The museum as a nonprofit is governed by a board of directors, local very rich and entitled women who conspire to replace Ruthie with one of their own.  Ruthie does not come from privilege and is powerless to prevent this.  The first half of the book is the unpleasant ganging up on Ruthie, like a bunch of junior high school girls.  On top of it Ruthie makes some bad decisions and helps them bury her.  I didn’t enjoy the assault on the only likable character, watching her be dismantled.  And then her marriage finally collapses.

There are far too many story lines for my taste and just when I thought I’d have to throw in the towel, the writing began to really flow and the story get interesting.  I was surprised and relieved to enjoy the last quarter of the book which was a relief since I felt I had worked so hard to get there.  I wonder if I would have liked it better as a collection of interrelated short stories ala Olive Kitteridge.
Was this review helpful?
I had thought this book would be about summer romance, beaches, and friendships.  Instead it was about divorce, broken friendships and depression.  There were also many characters and it was hard to keep them straight. There were some parts that were entertaining, like the bounce house blowing away. But all in all, I struggled to keep my attention with this book.  The ending kept you guessing about what may happen to Ruthie, was it going to be a not so happy life for her, or were things going to turn around and she would gain happiness?
Was this review helpful?
This book was just ok for me.  Confusing characters and too many threads of plots.  Some parts were fun, some awful.  I just couldn't relate to any of the characters.  It will undoubtedly, though, be a popular beach read this summer
Was this review helpful?
Just by looking at this cover, it's obvious this will be the perfect beach read. It was good, and I know so many people are going to love this and devour it. The drama and gossip was a little too much for me, and I ended up not enjoying the characters. I found most of them to be insolent and whiny. The writing was fantastic, a well-crafted plot and funny dialogue. I simply just don't think this was the perfect beach read for myself personally. It's worth a try though!
Was this review helpful?
This is exactly the kind of book I want on my summer reading list. I love a nuanced domestic drama that keeps me flipping pages and that's exactly what I got with The High Season by Judy Blundell. 

The novel is the quintessential beach read, from the setting right down to the ocean blue cover art. This story takes place in Orient - a cozy and less popular spot than the sparkling, prestigious Hamptons - where Ruthie lives with her daughter and runs the local museum. It's here that she owns a beautiful beach house, but every summer has to give it up to be able to afford it. When her tenant for the summer turns out to be a New York socialite with ties to Ruthie's past in the art world, the summer becomes less predictable, setting off a chain of events that will change North Fork. 

I loved this book so much. To be honest, I find that I enjoy a domestic drama with characters who are flawed, their motivations questionable at best. These are the characters who come to life on the page for me, and this book was full of them. There were the obvious villains - I mean who could stand the petulant child that is Adeline's step-son (I'll be honest, I wanted a different outcome for him). But my favorite was Doe, who had questionable morals and who's actions sometimes blurred between right and wrong - but wasn't afraid to go after what she needed. These are the types of characters I find interesting, their stories and motivations compelling. 

This isn't a huge plot book - instead it's a character driven narrative about betrayal, love and finding your way when things don't go the way you expected them. This book is exactly what you'll want to be taking with you on vacation or settling in with a crisp glass of wine for an evening escape.
Was this review helpful?
THE HIGH SEASON is the perfect summer read for those of us who love character-driven stories.  Ruthie, the curator of a small museum close to the Hamptons, has to rent her beautiful home to strangers every summer so she can afford to live in it the rest of the year.   Ruthie's life is thrust into turmoil when a beautiful and influential person from her past decides to rent Ruthie's house for the "season." Judy Blundell brilliantly captures the differences between the middle-class and the truly rich and how they can inhabit the same town but live very, very different lives.  THE HIGH SEASON is Dominick Dunne meets Julia Glass with fabulous relatable characters and plot that keeps the reader engaged to its satisfying conclusion.
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to LOVE this book...with the weather finally getting warm, I wanted a nice beach read.  This isn't it.  I tried, I really did.  There are so many characters, nothing really makes sense.  I understand the whole vacation town, you have the people that live there all year round, then you have the rich people ferry in for the summer.  Blah blah...nothing really interesting about it.  I wish it was better...maybe I'll try something else by the author, I hope this was just a fluke.

Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
My initial impression was that this would be a story about the rich who visit the Hamptons in summer and the poor church mice that live there year-round. I had to get to the middle of the book t realize the rich-kid components are just a distraction. There is an interesting story here about families, and personal reinvention, and the importance of what money can’t buy. Some characters are too shallow and have too many gaps for my taste. The ending is more interesting than you’d guess from the title and the cover.
Was this review helpful?
Great summer read! I love Long Island's north fork and this story of a particular summer did not disappoint.  Well developed characters in believable settings and situations. I was torn with not wanting to put it down and wishing it would never end.  Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC!
Was this review helpful?
Clever, charming, and congenial, The High Season is much like a summer day itself – filled with so much warmth and action and highs and lows, that it leaves the reader exhausted and sun-shy. 

Author Judy Blundell is an excellent storyteller, borrowing the scenic landscape of Orient to populate with her cast of colorful characters, which run the spectrum from caricature to pre-Raphaelite. Her prose is rich and pleasant, and she is able to imbue her characters and her writing with a sense of humor that made it clear that she is in on the joke, even if our hero, Ruthie, isn’t. As Ruthie struggles with betrayal, hopelessness, and a loss of control, the book turns from a fun, summer romp to a stressful, breakneck crisis; again, this is a testament to the writing and completeness of our main character, whose panic grows unsettlingly palpable.

It is easy to forgive, or at least empathize with, some of the poor choices that Ruthie makes as she struggles to re-calibrate her life. Even the most ridiculous turns within the book are forgivable in a world populated with sloppy artists, social-climbers, and performative meditators. Nevertheless, like all good summer stories, The High Season requires a good bit of suspension-of-disbelief to fully immerse yourself in the deliciously soapy drama of the small town on the edge of the continent (but really, how does such a small town attract such an insular group of artists, and the artist-adjacent!?).  

Despite the (unreasonably) catty socialites and co-workers, Blundell created a close-knit community that you would want to spend a summer in ---- which would become very important, because it helped to understand why Ruthie is willing to put up with so much and fight so hard for everything she is losing: her home, her job, her friends and family. It is a quick, often joyous read that is sweet but sticky, with a note of melancholy that perfectly colors summertime evenings. The concept of grounding the book around summer holidays helped keep the book from dragging, like so many books set in the summer tend to do, and also helped to keep the action moving. 

Multiple chapters would be dedicated to a specific character, only to have very little payoff. There were a lot of lose ends that were not tied up at the end of the novel, and not just the one at the summer’s last, chaotic party. Blundell’s prose is occasionally interrupted by a curious passage that makes reference to the future (“if only she had known, later, how this would end…”, or that switches to the second person POV. The strength of this novel is in its humor, and in the occasions that it begins to take itself too seriously is when the story, characters, and writing suffers. By the time the novel has reached its – somewhat unsatisfying – conclusion, the reader is more than ready to turn the page to fall.
Was this review helpful?
A Long Island North Fork- Hamptons- New York City story. Centering around an Orient Neighborhood Museum, this summer read is loaded with back stabbing, power struggles, social climbers, as well as highlighting the difference between being well connected and wealthy vs. competent at a job. I really enjoyed this book. Thank you NetGalley, the publisher and author for the copy, all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I could not put this book down. It sucked me in. Ruthie’s life is turned upside down, and I felt I could relate. I’ve never been to Long Island, but I felt I was there. I could picture it all perfectly. It’s a great summer read!
Was this review helpful?
Such a great, spellbinding read.  I really enjoyed the story, and I would definitely have purchased this had I not received the ARC!  Blundell is on my read list now for sure!
Was this review helpful?
I received an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

This book seem to be too many things at once – cultural commentary, class war art world insider, and beach read, without really satisfying any of these flavors. I will read the authors next book to see if she gets the formula down  this book seem to be too many things at once – cultural commentary, class war, art world insider, and beach read, without really satisfying any of these flavors. I would read the author is next book to see if she gets the formula down
Was this review helpful?
This book gave me all the feels.  I love books that masquerade as simple beach/chicklit books, but under that eye-catching gorgeous cover they're really books that will make you take a step back and examine yourself and the world around you--while also being the entertaining beach read you crave.  It might be the fact that Ruthie, our protagonist, is my age and I could so identify with many of her thoughts and actions.  I could see myself saying and doing and feeling the same way if my life suddenly blew up around me.  But mostly I think it's the great characters, the great setting, and the great story.  I will most assuredly be looking forward to reading more from Ms. Blundell!
Was this review helpful?
Summer awakenings!

Oh my! The opening paragraph describing the detritus sitting around Ruthie Beamish's household was so aptly familiar I was hooked from the get go! 
Those "post-it's with phone numbers marooned from their meaning." 
What could I do but read on, beckoned by an understandable world into something completely different.
Fast, witty and acidic, a look at relationships ending and new beginnings in unexpected ways. 
A glittering story of the summer invasion of the Hamptons. Only this time the quiet remote  village of the Orient is invaded by the rich and famous. Add in the competitive world of art blazing into being, a teenager's unhappy foray into sexuality, a separated woman finally facing some hard truths, and you have a winner.
The story revolves around Ruth Beamish, the local museum director,  her ex husband, their celebrity summer house renter, and various side characters as they interweave throughout the story.
Powerful and addictive.  I couldn't put Ruthie's story down.

A NetGalley ARC
Was this review helpful?
High Season was exactly the book for me over the weekend. It filled the same niche for me as The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews and The Vacationers by Emma Straub, so if that's what you're in the mood for you might like this. The story isn't like those books, but shares the family drama and mostly rich folks in a summer setting. I did really like the way the author talks about class and wealth, and I enjoyed the interconnected stories of the various characters. 
There is definitely a protagonist in Ruthie, the local museum director who, with her husband Mike (separated for years but not divorced and "best friends") and teenage daughter Jem, rents out her seaside home every summer to the wealthier folks who prefer her village to the Hamptons. Even though Ruthie is the main focus, we also get to know her coworkers, especially Doe (museum social media manager), 15-year-old Jem, one of the famous artists in the area and his daughter, and a few of Ruthie's friends. I enjoyed this ensemble and their interconnected stories and the ways they affected one another without even knowing it.
Was this review helpful?