Nothing ever changes at Wauregan…
That is the mystique of the idyllic island summer colony, the comforting belief its multi-generation families have lived by for half a century. But in 1948, after a world war has upended countless lives, it is not certain that the islanders will be able to return to “the old days”—and for Helen Wadsworth, the war is not over.
Helen’s husband, Arthur was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, and she is unable to find out what happened, or whether he might, even now, be alive. Raising a teenage son, who, like his mother longs to know the truth, Helen turns to Frank Hartman, her husband’s best friend and his partner on the OSS mission on which Arthur was lost, while Frank escaped. But Frank seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life, which Arthur has left than in answering her questions.
And then Peter Gavin, a young Marine who was captured and tortured by the Japanese returns to the island with his faithful war dog; and man and dog enter the lives of Helen and her son.
Unsure of whom to trust, or what to believe, Helen takes matters into her own hands. As she seeks the truth, she makes a shocking discovery that will alter the course of her life, and change her perceptions of love and war.
A mystery, a love story and an insider’s view of a private world, A Certain Summer resonates long after the last page is turned.
“Equal parts novel of manners, historical fiction, and a quiet examination of social mores, A Certain Summer weaves important questions about class, gender, trauma and family through its seemingly simple narrative as artfully as an experienced hostess arranges the seating at a dinner table, so that conversations flow….But Ms. Beard shows that even magical retreats like Wauregan are subject to the vicissitudes of the modern world….In the end…it seems that Wauregan’s magic prevails in its very ability to change in a way that stays true to its origins, or even more precisely, that magic prevails as Wauregan learns it must change to stay true to its origins.”
—The East Hampton Star
“Woven into this tale of loss and romance are themes of intrigue, growth, betrayal, psychological trauma and a fulfilling healing process. Beard’s attention to historical details and understanding of the realities and shortfalls of privilege make a satisfying read.”
“A richly evocative debut novel.”
“A really satisfying read…I’m crazy about A Certain Summer…a perfect summer book.”