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The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

The Summer We Read Gatsby is Danielle Ganek's second novel.  I haven't read her first one, but since Summer was pretty good, and I'm now thinking about trying out her debut novel.  Ganek writes long chapters which is something I don't appreciate because of the way I read a book.  However, after the first few chapters, the chapters and the book go very quickly once you get caught up its fictional world.  This is largely due to the witty writing and the vivid characters as well as the bits of mysterious intrigue about a 'thing of utmost value,' a stolen painting, and a gorgeous house guest with a strange, murky past who refuses to leave.

Peck and Cassie's beloved Aunt Lydia, the last of their paternal relatives, has died.  Lydia's will bequeaths her summer home in the Hamptons and all its contents to her nieces with specific instructions to spend a final month in the house during which Lydia hopes that they'll find something of utmost value before they liquidate her possessions and sell the house.  However, Peck and Cassie are clueless as to what Lydia means by something of utmost value.  Is it a valuable objet d'art hidden amidst the many pieces of anonymous, worthless art and furniture Lydia left behind?  Or is it something intangible like the meaning of love and family?  Or is it hidden in the locked safe in Lydia's bedroom closet that no one has the combination for and no one can crack?

Besides Peck and Cassie, there is also the gorgeous Biggsy, the previous summer's starving artist still in residence over the garage who stayed on through the winter most probably unbeknownst to Lydia.  Biggsy, mysterious and manipulative, has wasted no time ingratiating himself with Peck and Cassie while both an old family friend and a long time neighbor each warn Cassie that the artist cannot be trusted.  Conflicting details of Biggsy's past reveal that he may have a more sinister side than either sister realizes.

Then there's the matter of the painting that goes missing from over the living room mantel the night of the sisters' first party at the house.  Who stole it and why?  And was the painting the valuable Lydia referenced in her will?

I highly recommend you pick up this book the next time you visit the library.  You won't regret it.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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