I have always loved reading novels about how the rich lived during the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, with their big mansions on Fifth Avenue in NYC and their so-called “cottages” in Newport, RI. The Lost Summers of Newport paints a picture with words of the world of the rich, and there are no better “word painters” than Beatriz Williams, Karen White, and Lauren Willig.
The three have authored several novels, each tackling a chapter. I have enjoyed some more than others. The Lost Summers of Newport is almost certainly my favorite. The stories of the three women are interesting, though all very different.
It’s 2019, and Andie Figuero, a struggling single mother, has agreed to produce a reality television program called Mansion Makeover. The program features mansions in need of repairs, and it seems like a fit for Andie, who has her degree in historic preservation. However, things become complicated when her bosses want her to concentrate on the rumors of the families who lived there instead of the work being done on the house.
It’s 1957, and Lucia “Lucky” Sprague is stuck in an unhappy marriage with an alcoholic husband. She would like nothing better than to run away with the man she loves, Teddy, and her little girl, Joanie. But results of some of her actions and secrets she learns too late seemingly prevent her from finding true happiness.
It’s 1899, and Ellen Daniels is hired by John Sprague to teach his sister to sing. His goal is to get her married off to a wealthy Italian prince in order to save his home. He will stop at nothing to ensure the match takes place, and he holds Ellen fully responsible in making that happen. She has little choice, however, because she is running from her own demons. Sprague’s sister Maybelle, as quiet and demure as can be, has no interest in the prince, but wants to find love elsewhere.
The secrets that connect the women are revealed to us as the story moves along. I was so interested in the secrets myself that I could scarcely put the book down.