Thursday, July 3, 2008

Review: A Summer Affair

Summary: Good-natured Claire Danner Crispin seems to have it all: an adoring, handsome husband, four beautiful children, a gorgeous home on Nantucket Island, and a career as a renowned art glass blower. So, what could possibly make her -- the woman who has everything - take a chance that might shatter her entire world? How does she juggle her family's endless needs and her own personal desires? And how far is she willing to go to fulfill them all? New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand is back with a tantalizing story about a loving, overcommitted, under-indulged wife and mother who, in an uncharacteristic moment of vulnerability, begins ...A SUMMER AFFAIR. -- Little, Brown and Company

A SUMMER AFFAIR by Elin Hilderbrand is an ideal book for women to read this summer. I enjoyed the story, but I definitely think a lot of people will love it. To me, this book represents pure escapism -- it will make a great book to take on vacation with you. There are lots of juicy storylines including ones dealing with adultery, addictions, and criminal behavior. The book is filled with enough scandals that it should appeal to the voyeur in all of us!

Claire Danner Crispin is portrayed as a woman who has a hard time saying no or defining boundaries for herself. So when Lock Dixon asks for her help in co-chairing a huge charity event, she finds herself agreeing (as well as signing on to create a piece of artwork for the auction.) As a reader who is also a mom, I could quickly see that she was setting herself up for problems. Not only did I see that she was biting off more than she could chew, but I was pretty sure that her family-life would end up suffering too. As if that wasn't enough, Claire complicates the situation by having an affair with Lock who is a married man.

I have to admit that I had a very hard time relating to Claire -- she really did seem to have an almost perfect life. While I understand that many mothers can sometimes feel that they have lost sight of who they really are when they are tending to their husbands and children, most of them do not run into the arms of another man to feel special. I absolutely cannot comprehend how she could be so caught up in a man that she would risk her husband, family and friends to be with him. I guess it all goes back to Claire's difficulties in saying no and setting boundaries!

There are many side stories that occurred in this book; and I did find a few rather intriguing. I liked that the author showed not only the effect of Claire's infidelity on her family, but also the problems it caused with her best friend Siobvan. I enjoyed seeing the story from Siobvan's point of view as well as sharing in Siobvan's pain with her husband's gambling addiction. Another side story that I liked concerned Max -- Claire's high school sweetheart and now a world famous rock star. Similar to Claire, it would appear that Max had it all; but he was also haunted by demons which caused him to be a failure in relationships and drink way too much.

One part of the book that I found fascinating was the description of the art of glass-blowing. It is very obvious to me that Ms. Hilderbrand did a tremendous amount of research of this subject matter. I loved the beautiful descriptions of the pieces that Claire created, and I could almost visualize the unique candlesticks and chandelier.

I feel that Ms. Hilderbrand did a very good job in writing this book. A SUMMER AFFAIR was a light, quick read (even though it was over 400 pages) that I would have loved to read at the pool or by the seashore. The storyline was interesting and kept my interest right up to the twist at the end. While I didn't truly love any of the characters, I appreciated how she developed them and made them very real to the reader. It was extremely interesting to get into the minds of the various characters, and I really felt like I could (almost) understand some of their decisions. I also enjoyed how Ms. Hilderbrand didn't tie everything up in a nice neat package -- I was still left thinking about some of the characters and how their lives may or may not have worked out.

A SUMMER AFFAIR would actually make a very interesting book club selection. They are so many stories and ethical issues to discuss. I'm pretty confident in saying that the women in my book club definitely wouldn't like Claire, but it would be interesting for us to dissect her decisions. Even though most women will think that Claire went too far, I have a feeling that a lot of women will relate to Claire's feelings of guilt and her inability to say no -- they seem like universal themes for us moms!


Cheryl said...

am always looking for a good summer read.

S. Krishna said...

Great review! I really liked Barefoot and want to read this.

Jill said...

I'm about 60 pages in and am looking forward to finishing this tomorrow at the pool...thanks for the great review!

photoquest said...

wonderful review I've been looking forward to getting my copy of this.

Jill said...

I had a really hard time with Claire, too...I kept reading, because it was engaging, but I kept thinking, this is headed for disaster. I've posted my review...and I think it would definitely make for an interesting book club discussion!

Daisy said...

Isn't that something a lot of women suffer from -- the inability to say no? This book makes clear some of the risks of not setting limits.

Unknown said...

I am looking for a book to pack for the beach! Thanks for the review.

Booksnyc said...

I am actually on vacation now reading this book and there is quote from you in the front of the paperback copy! I am enjoying the book - first from this author for me.

Thanks for the great review!