Story: The Santa Cruz boardwalk plays host to generations of stories, uniting families through fond memories and social activities. Mari Cruz is a third generation resident raising her daughter to appreciate the beauty and significance of the boardwalk. As a volunteer for the local museum, Mari becomes entranced with the story of Violet Harcourt – a beauty pageant winner who committed suicide for unknown reasons. Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger shares Violet’s story and Mari’s quest to better understand this troubling tale.
The tide rushed in violently, and the ocean spray touched my face, inviting me to come closer.
Why: I loved Meredith Jaeger’s first novel The Dressmaker’s Dowry and was excited to read her next title. The timing could not have been more perfect as the book arrived the day before I left for a weekend at the beach! To top things off, I’m visiting California next week to see my family which will include three generations. Even more timely, and I’ve found as I get older I enjoy seeing how author’s connect story lines from past and present!
If the historic boardwalk disappeared piece by piece, what memories would she have left to share with her daughter?
Opinion: Even with the high expectations I had, I wasn’t disappointed by Boardwalk Summer. It is a solid multi-generational novel that comes across as well-researched and well-constructed. The plot moves quickly, while maintaining a depth of character that allows readers to get invested in the people behind the text. While abuse of any kind is not an easy subject to discuss, I think Jaeger does it justice without becoming too heavy and address a timely topic in timeless fashion. Finally, the romantic and picturesque setting is the perfect host to the mysterious events surrounding Violet and Mari’s lives.
The past and the present were colliding, and secrets were going to spill out.
Recommendation: This novel is the ideal blend of mystery, romance and historical fiction for my summer reading list, and it is a fast read which makes it perfect for vacation! The language is conversational and engaging for all reading levels, and has clean romance that even my conservative self could read out loud to my mother. I don’t think you can go wrong picking up either Jaeger novel this summer, and I highly recommend Boardwalk Summer as a travel companion.
I shut my eyes. I needed to be fearless.
Journaling Prompts: (If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, I enjoy putting together a few questions about the book for those that have already read, or choose to read the book after viewing this post!)
- The feeling of being on the boardwalk rollercoaster is repeated a number of times. Where do you remember seeing it? Who made the comparison? Can you relate to that feeling?
- Describe Ricky and Violet’s relationship.
- Did your feelings toward Evelyn Hastings change from the beginning of the book to the end?
- Why do you think Jaeger uses the color yellow so often in Boardwalk Summer? Where do you see it? What meaning does the color carry?
- How are fathers depicted throughout this novel?
About Boardwalk Summer
In this new novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, two young women two generations apart discover the joy and heartbreak of following their dreams. Aspiring Hollywood actress Violet makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, Mari sets out to discover what happened on that long ago summer.
Santa Cruz, Summer 1940: When auburn-haired Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss California on the boardwalk of her hometown, she knows she is one step closer to her cherished dream: a Hollywood screen test. But Violet’s victory comes with a price—discord in her seemingly perfect marriage—and she grapples with how much more she is willing to pay.
Summer 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives with her parents in the charming beach cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the town’s local history and the quaint gazebo where her grandparents danced beneath the stars, Mari sells raffle tickets at the Beach Boardwalk Centennial Celebration, and meets Jason, a California transplant from Chicago.
When Mari discovers the obituary of Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen who died too young, she and Jason are sent on a journey together that will uncover her grandfather’s lifelong secret—his connection to Violet—a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform them.
About Meredith Jaeger
USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.
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