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“Inside this mesmerizing tale of sexual desire and discovery, naive newlyweds Henry and Effie are honeymooning in Cape May, N.J., in 1957, tentatively navigating intimacy. Then they meet Clara and Max, hard-partying lovers who dazzle the innocent pair until they’ve lost more than their virginity. Cheek’s sensual first novel leaves you wanting more.”
"Henry and Effie’s honeymoon is meant to be their introduction to the pleasures of the body, but in the company of Clara and her promiscuous cohort they lose all track of boundaries. A dozy, luxurious sense of enchantment comes over the story, until the rude awakening at its finale.... Cape May does something better than critique or satirize: It seduces."
– The Wall Street Journal
A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites.
Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.
The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences.
Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage.
"I read CAPE MAY all day yesterday and didn't want it to end. Man, what a read. Full of eroticism, arousal, danger, tensions of every kind imaginable, this is a powerful debut by a male author who pulls off the sex so well and with such clarity. You just know that things are going to go south with Effie and Henry's marriage but how it does in so many ways and how Effie finds her strength and power is just so well done and keeps you whipping through those pages as fast as you can. I just wanted to draw out the ending only to keep reading more. It is so damn good. And I love the Celadon color of the cover."
- Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books
Fans of BROOKLYN and ON CHESIL BEACH will be thrilled to immerse themselves in CAPE MAY. Newlyweds Henry and Effie are young and naive as they honeymoon in the coastal town. Little do they realize that the encounter with their older and hedonistic neighbors will have life altering effects. Henry James explored the corruption of the old world order on a new generation and author Chip Cheek has successfully taken up the mantel in this steamy exploration of love and lust.
- Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books