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The Summer Place: A Novel

The Summer Place: A Novel PDF

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Publisher: Atria Books


Publish Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN-10: 1501133578

Pages: 432

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

For forty years, the house had stood on the edge of the dune, overlooking the waters of Cape Cod Bay. Over time, the dune had eroded, shearing away in gentle showers of sand. Beach plums and bayberry shrubs clung to its sides like the splayed fingers of a clutching hand. Down below, the water in the bay had crept higher each season, paring off slivers of the beach. The dirt path that once led to the house’s front door had been widened and covered in crushed oyster shells. Her grounds had been landscaped, lavender and hydrangeas and bright-blooming roses added to the pin oaks and crabapple trees. A pool had been dug out of the gentle slope of the meadow, a guesthouse and garage added on; then more decks, a hot tub, and an outdoor shower with a crescent moon cut into the arch of its door so bathers could look out at the sea.

Through all the changes—the coats of paint, the loose boards nailed down for the second and third times, the hinges oiled, and the windows replaced—the house had waited, patient and steadfast. The molecules of her walls vibrated with the echoes of every conversation ever held in her rooms; the ceilings and the floors and the dirt below held the resonances of all she had seen. She knew things: good and bad. She’d seen sorrow and happiness, tragedy and joy, and plenty of the mundane, the cheerful low hum generated by families at the beach in the summertime.

Thousands of meals had been cooked and eaten in her kitchen; hundreds of hamburgers and hot dogs grilled and served at the picnic table on the top deck. She had witnessed the preparation of fresh clams and lobster, local corn on the cob and sun-warmed tomatoes sweet as sugar and right off the vine. Couples, young and old, had danced on her floors and embraced in her bedrooms. She’d seen tender kisses and heard blissful sighs and whispered declarations of love. Babies had been conceived beneath her roof, and those same babies had grown up and come back to her, with babies of their own. She’d watched a mother bathe her newborn daughter and, many years later, had seen that daughter set her own baby in a crib, then walk toward her mother and embrace her, whispering, Thank you. I had no idea how hard this was going to be. The house had welcomed them all; she’d borne witness to their histories and had held them close in her embrace.

In all those years, through all that time, she had only ever been able to watch. All the pain, all the mistakes—no, not that party; no, no more to drink tonight; no, not him; no, not her; no, don’t open that door, don’t answer the phone, do not let that man back in your bed—she had never been able to assert her own will or even make herself known. For years, she’d tried, but she’d never managed to do more than cause a few odd ripples in the hot tub or make the same screen door fall off onto the deck (“that damn door,” the families muttered, as they lifted it back on its tracks).

The house never gave up. She kept working at it, patiently, assiduously, trying to find ways to let her people know that she heard them, that she saw them, that she wanted to help. They might take her for granted; they might leave her empty all through the winter, letting mice chew through her insulation to make nests inside her walls, but she cared for them, and always would.

And now, another summer was approaching, the days getting longer, the air getting warmer, and her mission had never felt more urgent. Changes were coming. She had so many things to tell her people, and she was running out of time to figure out how.

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