Cover Image: Summer Darlings

Summer Darlings

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

1962. Summer on Martha's Vineyard.

Heddy is a girl working as a summer nanny for a wealthy family in Martha's Vineyard. She is a college scholarship student at Wellesly who was raised by a single mother barely scraping by. Heddy is a very naive girl, embarrassed by her background, needing and wanting validation from the people she believes are so much more than she is.

She arrives in Martha's Vineyard starry eyed, ready to step into a world of beautiful people living idyllic lives. What she discovers is the ugly underbelly of this picture perfect world, starting with the very family she is a nanny for.

Heddy falls for two men on the island, Sullivan, the son of a wealthy family, and Ash, a land developer selling homes in his new development in Florida. She is also befriended by Gigi, a movie star who takes her under her wing and tries to gently educate her as to what she is up against.

Eventually, Heddy begins to realize she can absolutely trust no one but herself. As insecure and unimportant as she believes she is, she nevertheless is a pawn to be used or disparaged by those around her. As the reader/observer I wanted to stand and cheer for her at the point she arrives at knowing that only she can take care of herself and does just that.

A happy ending? Maybe so, maybe no. I think you should decide for yourself when you read this novel. I can see the possibility of a sequel. I would definitely read it should it happen.

Was this review helpful?

Heddy Winsome is looking forward to spending the summer on Martha’s Vineyard rather than Brooklyn; the fact that she’s lost her scholarship to Wellesley is dampening her enthusiasm, but she’s hopeful she’ll find a solution.

At first the couple she’s nannying for—Jean-Rose and Ted—are charming and seem to be the perfect couple, but soon Heddy detects fissures in their relationship and suspects dark secrets, beyond Jean-Rose’s fascination with the young neighbor, Ash. Heddy can understand her boss’s obsession. She’s soon crushing on him as well.

When Jean-Rose’s childhood friend and famous actress, Gigi, takes Heddy under her wing, their relationship worsens. Heddy is constantly on tinterhooks, as she has two men vying for her affection.

The setting and time period are perfect—JFK is in the White House and everyone wants to experience Camelot. What seems to be a coming-of-age novel transitions to mystery/suspense, not entirely realistically, but it’s still enjoyable. #SummerDarlings #NetGalley

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately I just couldn't get into this book. It may have just been bad timing. Part of me wanted to see where Heddy would end up and with whom (if anyone), but it was moving a little too slowly for me.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

I was really looking forward to this book, but ultimately it fell flat for me. I loved the 1960s Martha's Vineyard setting and the clothing descriptions but I was bored through most of the book and the characters annoyed me.

Set in 1960s Martha's Vineyard, a scholarship Wellesley girl nannies for a wealthy family, finds out that while you can have money it doesn't mean life is as perfect as it looks from the outside.

Was this review helpful?

Good beach read. Started out great; plot twist at the end was hard to believe and seemed as though author needed a way to end the story. If you can look past the ending you will enjoy the rest of the book.

Was this review helpful?

I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction that I think feels whimsical or silly; unfortunately this one fell there for me. I found all of the characters unlikable and didn't particularly care how it ended up. Bummer! Will still get for the library as it will probably do well as a summer read.

Was this review helpful?

This book was such a throwback and felt so nice to visit an era in which I never lived so vividly. The writing style had a little less flow than I would've liked but overall, great work of historical fiction.

Was this review helpful?

Summer Darlings
by Brooke Lea Foster

Gah!!! Five star, five star, five star! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Did I say five star?

What a glorious piece of historical fiction. Dive into the 1960’s of Martha’s Vineyard, into the indulgent lives of the wealthy, the privileged.

Wellesley girl Heddy arrives in Martha’s Vineyard to spend the summer as nanny to 6 yr old Teddy and 4 yr old Anna. Heddy is infatuated with her employers Jean-Rose and Ted Williams, their family, and their life. She yearns to be part of the island’s social circle. She wants to belong. That is, until she finds out all that glitters isn’t gold.

I don’t want to give up too much of the plot, you need to experience the wonderful journey as the story unfolds - no spoilers.

The author, Brooke Lea Foster does such a wonderful job of creating and developing the most interesting characters - Ash, the surfer who charms the island females; socially prominent “good guy” with the bohemian spirit, Sullivan; and glamorous movie star Gigi, with a heart of gold. I loved the references to the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, Carly Simon, Bob Dylan and James Taylor. If you’d love to take a time travel journey to the opulent “Camelot” days ... just read Summer Darlings.

There are such deep issues explored in social inequality, the pressures of society, the basic human emotions of self worth and believing in yourself. Summer Darlings is a perfect escape of fun, romance, heartbreak, suspense and hope.

Thank you to Brooke Lea Foster, Gallery Books and NetGalley!

Available May 5, 2020

Was this review helpful?

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This story is set during the summer of 1962 in Martha’s Vineyard. This is the author’s debut novel and it is exactly what summer reading should be, especially if you appreciate historical fiction.

The protagonist, Heddy Winsome, hails from Brooklyn, New York and plans to nanny for a wealthy family on Martha’s Vineyard during her summer break from Wellesley.

Summer Darlings craftily weaves actual historical figures such as The Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, James Taylor (pre-fame) with fictional ones you wish were real. Among the intriguing people that Heddy meets are the family she works for (perfect on the surface), a hip and roguish surfer down the beach, a studious college boy from a moneyed family and a bombshell starlet. I have not read a book this engaging since “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Tara Jenkins Reid! Oh, and did I mention there is a twist towards the end?

This story is a wonderful escape with summer feels oozing through every page. Foster captures the charm of the early 60s, referencing music, movies, vehicles, and fashion from that era with delicious description. I truly cannot wait to see what she writes next.

Was this review helpful?

Heddy has a summer job working as a nanny on Martha’s Vineyard while she tries to figure out how to get back to Wellesley in the fall. She is nanny to Anna and Teddy, Ted and Jean-Rose Williams’ children. She becomes friends with the Williams’ housekeeper, Ruth, and comes to love the children. Through the summer Heddy realizes not everyone is who they seem and that her perfect summer with the perfect family is anything but perfect. Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in the mid-20th century will enjoy this glimpse into the world of the rich and how their lives are full of smoke and mirrors.

Was this review helpful?

I could not put this book down! I was transported immediately to summer 1962 on Martha's Vineyard. I cheered for Heddy even when I winced a little at some of the decisions she made. And the twist at the end! WHOA! This is a perfect summer read.

Was this review helpful?

This started off really interesting but then lingered and ultimately lacked a lot of luster. I hated the ending, as well, which definitely contributes to the rating. I am re-watching Mad Men right now so I thought it would be fun to read this book, set in the early 1960s. Unfortunately, while I could picture 1960s Martha's Vineyard well, the characters fell flat for me and the story took an unfortunate nose dive. Hope you have better luck with this one!

Summer Darlings comes out soon on May 5 2020 and you can purchase HERE.

Heddy's jaw tightened. Is this what she was to these women peacocking in their pastel-colored cocktail dresses--nothing but a punch line in a joke about the help. An "hourly girl"? . The thought cut like a razor, and for the first time, it made her resent these women in updos and strappy sandals. If Heddy ever had money, she'd never make anyone feel like less because they worked in service. Her mother taught her to be thankful for any kindness the world showed her, and the two of them often listed three things they were grateful fo over breakfast each morning, no mattered how hard times were. She wondered what Jean-Rose was more grateful for--having two beautiful children, or having to servants, even "hourly" ones? Sadly, she guessed the answer was the latter.

Was this review helpful?

I want to thank NetGalley, Gallery Books, and author Brooke Lea Foster for providing me with an ARC of this novel.

I was enthralled from page one of this book right up until the very end. The setting of a summer in Martha’s Vineyard in the 60’s (yessssss) was like taking a vacation. And that is SO NEEDED right now during this pandemic. The references to the Kennedys, Monroe, and Taylor made me squeal with excitement, as well. This is a time period I would have loved to experience. I am super surprised that this is the author’s debut novel; after reading you would think she was a veteran writer! I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with and releases.

Thank you again to those named above for the opportunity to read and review this ARC!

Was this review helpful?

I received this book from NetGalley with gratitude in exchange for an honest review. This book hooked me from the start and got even better as it went on. Once I started I couldn’t put it down.
Synopsis: we follow Brooklyn girl Heddy Windsome off the ferry to her summer nanny job in Martha’s Vineyard in 1962. A scholarship student from Wellesley who is so curious to see how the “other half” live. Hoping to spot a Kennedy, she is bright but still unpolished and tries so hard to fit in to this unfamiliar setting. Although she acts foolishly at times we can forgive her knowing where she came from and why she is trying so hard. Her summer is spent with the Williams family, Ted, Jean Rose and their children who she cares for, petulant Teddy and sweet Anna. The family is picture perfect on the outside but with some darkness lurking behind closed doors. There’s a handsome surfer next door and a sweet colllege boy Heddy is set up with by Jean Rose. She quickly finds herself torn between her lust and her need for a “safe bet.” From celebrity parties and a love triangle we reveal a mystery or two which unravel satisfyingly and not the way you think.

My thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting was beautifully written and transported me to an Oceanside summer like a much needed vacation reminiscent of Elin Hilderbrand. I enjoyed reading about the 1960s and the lavish money and parties on the Vineyard. Although some parts of Heddy’s actions were cringeworthy they made sense for the story and the ending was fun and satisfying. I would recommend this to my mom and my young niece. Very readable for across age groups and preferences. I gave it 4.5 stars rounded up to a 5.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Net Galley, Gallery Books, and Book Club Girl for the ARC of this title for my honest opinion. I really enjoyed this book! The setting is in the early sixties during a Summer in Martha's Vineyard. A young and naive college student lands a job as a babysitter for a rich family. On paper, the family does everything it can as portraying itself as the All-American perfect home. But behind closed doors, there's abuse, alcoholism, and a completely different story. I spent the whole book cheering Heddy on and wanting her to stay with Sullivan. The twist at the end was great, and really solidified my rating on the book. This will be a great read recommendation for a pool or beach read.

Was this review helpful?

It is the summer of 1962 and Heddy Winsome, a Wellesley girl is working as a nanny on the exclusive island of Martha’s Vineyard. Raised in Brooklyn by an Irish immigrant single mother, Heddy has worked night and day to attain a scholarship and get herself to college. Desperate for stability and a brighter future, Heddy leaps at the chance to spend the summer amongst socialites while searching for the final piece to the puzzle, a husband. Sweet and pretty with a shy demeanor, Heddy has no trouble turning heads and winning the favor of her employers. As her heart is torn between two very different men, Heddy witnesses the extraordinarily flawed world of the rich and privileged. Excellent character description in an idyllic setting, it is unfortunate that the build up for 75% of this novel leads to a rushed and implausible finale.

Was this review helpful?

I really could neither get into this novel, nor relate to any of the characters. I thought it was all over the place with trite characters and unbelievable situations. Too many coincidences, too many confusing roles.

Since it is set on Martha’s Vineyard, it might appeal to some as a summer read, but I simply didn’t enjoy it.

Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.

Was this review helpful?

Summer Darlings is a captivating debut novel.......historical fiction mixed with romance and intrigue. It takes place in Martha's Vineyard during the summer of 1962. It revolves around the rich and famous and through the eyes of a young, financially struggling female, college student who is nanny for one the Vineyard's socially elite and wealthy family........a family whose foundation is built on lies and secrets. Thoroughly enjoyable and a page turner. I am looking forward to more novels from Brooke Lea Foster! Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

This book promised a fun summer read with the nostalgia of the Kennedy era. However, it seemed a somewhat straightforward account of a young woman in the middle of personal indecision who is surrounded by a less-than-lovable family.

I found the reading to be ok during most of the novel, but not super interesting either from a plot or a character standpoint. The ending was abrupt and confusing.

There were a few moments of beautiful prose and character building, but overall this book was a disappointment.

I received a free ARC as a reviewer for NetGalley.

Was this review helpful?

Interesting novel about the wealthy summer people on Martha's Vineyard along with the blue collar workers.
Should do very well during the summer months as a beach read.

Was this review helpful?