Review: Summer Secrets by Jane Green

Summer Secrets by Jane Green
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Category: Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received finished copy from publisher (Thanks Tandem Literary!)
Summary: June, 1998 – At 27, Catherine (Cat) Coombs is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, & parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine & her evenings swigging the free booze at a different party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that. June, 2014 – Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks & wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her back? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life & uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge. (

The Good
The only other Jane Green book I’ve read was Jemima J so, needless to say, it’s been a very long time. I had remembered Green’s writing as being very engaging which is why I looked forward to reading this and it was apparent from the first few pages of Summer Secrets that hadn’t changed. The story focuses on Catherine (Cat) Coombs and two very important periods in her life. There’s June 1988 where she’s struggling with life as a journalist and watching most of her friends at work get married and settle down. More and more her need for alcohol begins to dominate her day but she doesn’t think there’s a problem. Then two unexpected things happen, she meets a wonderful man and she finds out the true identity of her father and reaches out to him. Both of these events change her life in ways she couldn’t have foreseen. Flash forward to June 2014 and Cat is a woman on the mend. She’s got her drinking under control, a family to think of and she’s making amends with the people she unintentionally hurts by her actions. This journey takes her back to Nantucket to seek out her real father’s daughters and what happens there throws her for yet another loop.

I thought, first and foremost, that this was such a candid and in-depth look at someone suffering from alcoholism. I’ve been lucky to never experience this first or even secondhand but Green paints a picture of a woman who doesn’t know she has a problem and doesn’t mean to hurt anyone, even though she does. On both accounts. When we meet Cat there doesn’t seem to be much harm in a drink during lunch, happy hours and drunken nights out on the town. Isn’t that what most people her age are supposed to be doing? That’s what she and I’m sure many people have thought. Then we see her cross the line into it being a problem and the rest of the book shows us how acknowledging that is a lifelong thing and her struggle remain sober. I enjoyed learning about the people in her life — her mom and biological father, her half-sisters, the man she meets (he plays a big role!) and her best friend. They were each vivid characters in their own way and it’s easy to see how each of Cat’s interactions with them have shaped her.

(Some minor) reservations
The ending was a bit abrupt. I mean I got the ending I wanted in a sense but I wish we could have seen more of it!

Do I recommend?
I do. This is a great beach read or something to settle on the couch on a lazy Sunday (which is what I did!).

1 comment

  1. I don't think I've ever actually read a novel by Jane Green before! It is pretty interesting that she tackles alcoholism in this one; that's something I've been fortunate not to encounter personally in my life. Still, I think it would be a novel experience to read about it, and I'm very curious about this author!


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