Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster

Summer Darlings

Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster
English | 2020 | Historical Fiction | ePUB | 3.7 MB

Set during the splendid summer days of 1960s Martha’s Vineyard, this page-turning debut novel pulls back the curtain on one mysterious and wealthy family as seen through the eyes of their nanny—a college student who, while falling in love on the elegant island, is also forced to reckon with the dark underbelly of privilege.

In 1962, coed Heddy Winsome leaves her hardscrabble Irish Brooklyn neighborhood behind and ferries to glamorous Martha’s Vineyard to nanny for one of the wealthiest families on the island. But as she grows enamored with the alluring and seemingly perfect young couple and chases after their two mischievous children, Heddy discovers that her academic scholarship at Wellesley has been revoked, putting her entire future at risk.

Determined to find her place in the couple’s wealthy social circles, Heddy nurtures a romance with the hip surfer down the beach while wondering if the better man for her might be a quiet, studious college boy instead. But no one she meets on the summer island—socialite, starlet, or housekeeper—is as picture-perfect as they seem, and she quickly learns that the right last name and a house in a tony zip-code may guarantee privilege, but that rarely equals happiness.

Rich with the sights and sounds of midcentury Martha’s Vineyard, Brooke Lea Foster’s debut novel Summer Darlings promises entrance to a rarefied world, for readers who enjoyed Tigers in Red Weather or The Summer Wives.

Jackie Kennedy sails these waters. In fact, the First Lady might be looking at the same sunlit cliffs as Heddy, and the thought of Jackie in her big black sunglasses, placing a kiss on the president while their boat rounded Vineyard Sound, tickled the corners of Heddy’s mouth and made her peek over onto the deck of a wooden sailboat bobbing in the harbor. Heddy waved back at a man, shirtless and barefoot, holding a fishing line. He was no Jack Kennedy, but he wasn’t half bad, either.

Pastel-striped umbrellas lined the beach as the ferry neared the dock, and the colors were familiar, even though she’d never stepped foot on the island before. Martha’s Vineyard had become an obsession for Heddy that year at Wellesley after she’d overheard friends comparing where they’d stayed when they’d gone. But when movie star Gigi McCabe—the Gigi McCabe—posed in a barely there bikini for Look magazine, sunbathers oiled and stretched out on chaise longues around her, Heddy simply knew she had to go. (She and her roommate hid the magazine from their housemother, who called it “cheap trash” and forbade any copies in the dormitory.) Heddy had been drawn to the photo like a mosquito to a light, not because of the actress but because of all those patrician noses and straw hats, white Keds, and elegant tanned wrists. She wanted to know this fabled summer culture, those beautiful people who sailed in the morning, dressed formally for dinner, and sipped champagne at sunset at the famed Island Club.

Heddy pulled a small black notebook from her purse, pausing to take in the row of colorful Victorian houses lining the approaching town, and began to write. She was overwrought at arriving on the island, not only because she would live amid the wealthy, watching how money could take the edge off the sharpest points of life, but also because her job as a nanny would insert her into the home of a real family. There had been other well-paying options for summer jobs, of course, like the all-girls summer camp in the Catskills. But living with a family, she wrote, particularly an illustrious one, offered something the other jobs didn’t: a peek into a well-tended marriage.

When she snapped her journal shut, an envelope tucked inside drifted to the rounded tips of her sandals. She’d delayed opening the letter long enough, she thought, snatching it from the cement floor of the ferry. The enormous boat bumped against the dock as the crew began tying long, thick ropes to the pilings. She turned the thick parchment over in her hands.

To think, this whole mess was because of a boy. A Harvard boy. Maybe the scholarship committee would overlook her mistake, forgive her one small misstep and focus instead on everything she had accomplished. She was the only woman from her Catholic high school in Brooklyn to go to college. Her beloved literature professor, a mother of three who looked like Carol Burnett, had spent hours helping her to revise a short story last semester and had even written an appeal in her favor, attesting Heddy had “promise.” Promise. And now…

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