Review

Summer by the Sea

by Susan Wiggs

SUMMER BY THE SEA is a delightful summertime story of
star-crossed lovers, Rosa Capoletti and Alex Montgomery. Their
story begins with Alex having just returned to his beloved summer
home, and Rosa, who is determined to forget the love of her life,
finds herself still attracted to her childhood flame.

In chapter one, Rosa, who is working in her own restaurant
"Celesta's by the Sea," is watching as her best friend Linda is
being proposed to by her soon-to-be fiancé, Jason. Rosa is
filled with happiness for her friend, but also feels a bittersweet
ache inside. She soon finds herself arguing with her employees, who
also happen to be some of her closest friends, about her own love
life. They are worried about her --- that her relationships are
going nowhere and that all she does is focus on the restaurant.
Rosa, however, sees nothing wrong with her life. She's at a good
place financially and owns her own restaurant that has garnered
rave reviews from the New York Times. Celesta's is her dream
come true, and a tribute to the mother who lost her life at such a
young age.

While Rosa is contemplating the status of her love life, into the
restaurant walks a customer who she recognizes immediately, and
she's not very happy to see him. It is Alex Montgomery, who had
spent his summers in Winslow along with his mother and their
servants. Alex was once the love of her life, a childhood
sweetheart and best friend. But somewhere along the way their
romance turned sour, and for reasons still unknown to her, Alex
left town without a word. Since that last summer together with him,
she had decided to forget him and move on with her life. She felt
that their love was never meant to be, because their social
backgrounds were so different. Her father worked as the
Montgomerys' gardener, while Alex and his family were from "old
money." The two families would never fit in each other's
lives.

Alex, however, is now determined to make amends for the past
mistakes he has made, and tries his best to get Rosa's attention.
But Rosa doesn't want anything to do with him. He had hurt her
deeply at a time when she needed him more than ever. It had been
twelve years since he left her, and she never forgave or forgot
him.

The book then turns to the past and the reader returns with Rosa to
her childhood, when Alex was a very sick boy with asthma and Rosa
was a tomboy looking for a friend. Every summer the two of them
were the best of friends, and every September Alex would return to
his own world. They were friends only during three short months of
each year, but they were special months filled with fun and
adventure. One summer Rosa and Alex fall in love, and something
magical happens between them. But as soon as they profess their
love for each other, the romance ends abruptly after a serious
accident changes Rosa's life forever.

Now, back to the present, the two of them are a part of each
other's lives again. There's no telling what's in store for the two
of them. Rosa sees that the past needs resolving in order to move
forward, and is willing to work at it until she can get closure to
her past. And Alex is desperate to explain to Rosa the reason why
he left her so abruptly twelve years ago.

SUMMER BY THE SEA is a light, fluffy read, but at the same time
delves into a few serious issues. In between chapters, Wiggs
intersperses wonderful delicious-sounding Italian recipes, which
help give the book a very summery type of feel, as if one is on
holiday at a quiet summer resort. It lends to the mood of the book
and is a very clever idea that works. The story itself could have
been written in a tighter fashion. At times one is not sure if one
is reading about the past, or is back in the present. Some chapters
are marked with the year in which it is taking place, while others
are not. Outside of these inconsistencies, the romance reader will
enjoy SUMMER BY THE SEA. It's made a new fan out of this
reviewer.

Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton (Ratmammy@lofton.org) on January 23, 2011

Summer by the Sea
by Susan Wiggs

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778320561
  • ISBN-13: 9780778320562