From cohost of the ABC Daytime show The View comes this tale of true friendship, betrayal, love, secrets, and lust — set in New York City and picturesque Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard.
In the first of her new “Summer” trilogy, Purchase resident Sunny Hostin highlights issues such as race and identity as she intricately weaves the stories of four women: elegant Amelia “Ama” Vaux Tanner, a former Wall Street titan, and her three goddaughters: Esperanza “Perry” Soto (a guarded lawyer), Olivia Jones (a rational Wall Street analyst), and Billie Hayden (a free-spirited, marine biologist).
Ama enters the girls’ lives in their preteen years, as their “fairy godmother,” inviting them every summer to the cottage she and her husband Omar Tanner built on the Bluffs. For decades, the Tanners hosted, along with the three found sisters, cultural figures, American presidents, and Wall Street giants at Chateau Laveau.
This fated summer, Ama invites each of the 20-something women to spend the season at the estate, just like they did when they were young girls. Come fall, she would bestow the home upon one of them. Each girl desperately wants to inherit the house, as to them the house is more than a dwelling: It represents a safe haven where love flourished. However, as the summer progresses, the women make new ties and sever old ones, and they discover that while they may have something of their own to hide, so does Ama. Shared secrets forever alter the understanding of history, perception of the present, and vision for the future, in this page-turner that will leave readers anticipating the next installment. —Gina Valentino
William Morrow (2021); 385 pages (hrd)
It is in times of adversity that we often find our true friends. This involving novel takes that maxim to the next level by inveigling a number of clever young women in a series of hi-jinks that wind up drawing them closer together. According to Pelham-based author Rachel Cullen, her new book, Summer on Dune Road, “is women’s fiction that tells the story of three women’s perfect summer getaway in the Hamptons that doesn’t go according to plan. It devolves into a series of duplicitous roommates, dreadful blind dates, and even a blackmailing ex-boyfriend — until the unlikely trio bands together.”
The novel features the well-to-do but lonely Nora, the recently single Courtney, and the smart and spunky Megan, who hails from several of Cullen’s prior books. Cullen states that there is no need to be familiar with her previous work to enjoy Summer on Dune Road. “I brought Megan back for readers of the books who have loved her in the past,” says Cullen, “But there are enough hints and information about Megan’s past that you won’t feel lost.”
Above all, Summer on Dune Road is a story about interpersonal bonds and the complexities of contemporary womanhood. “Its about women and friendships,” says Cullen. “In general, I enjoy talking about stronger female characters, their friendship dynamic, and how romantic relationships are not everything. There are other things in life, as well, such as the importance of finding yourself. So, I would characterize it as a fun, generally light book, but one with some deep connections to the characters about how they support each other, how they are there for each other, and how they find meaning.” —Paul Adler
Lime Street Press (2022); 324 pages (pbk, Kindle)