Skip to main content

Driftwood Summer by Patti Callahan Henry

So in the last review I had lots of opinions, mostly because I think that book really chapped my ass.  I also have opinions regarding this book, specifically about the two younger sisters who spend about half the book being insufferable, self-centered wenches.  (That's right.  I said it.)  Driftwood Summer is the third book by Patti Callahan Henry that I've read and reviewed on the blog.  You can read the other reviews here and here.  I've become a fan of her books.  This one has family drama--specifically prickly, resentful sisterly relationship drama.

Riley's mother takes a tumble down the staircase of the family home and breaks several bones in the process.  As a result Riley's sisters, Maisie and Adalee, must come home to assist with their mother's convalescence as well as the huge, week long bicentennial celebration of the cottage that houses the family owned bookstore.  There's much more riding on this celebration than the family's letting on to the public: Riley's counting on the revenue from the festivities to turn around the business's floundering finances and pay down some debts.  There is also the secret of her mother's illness that she's been ordered by her mother to keep from her sisters until the festivities are over.

Of course, neither Maisie nor Adalee are pleased to be back in town--neither woman planned on staying longer than the weekend of the big party that culminates the week of special events commemorating the anniversary.  Nevertheless, Maisie reluctantly flies in early from California, and Adalee puts her summer plans on hold.  Now that all three sisters are finally in the same town at the same time for the first time in six years, childhood differences, conflicts, resentments, tensions and betrayals repeatedly threaten to bubble to the surface.  Most exasperating (okay, really, outraged, because I was a little outraged and perturbed about this one) are the tensions and resentments at the root of the estrangement between Riley and Maisie that date back to the summer Maisie stole Riley's best friend, Mack, the only man Riley ever loved.

Both Maisie and Adalee are selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered women who refuse to see past the inconveniences caused to their lives by familial duties, obligations, and so called sisterly betrayals (because how dare family crises demand their attention at this very inconvenient time).  Maisie especially is a piece of work.  She's held a grudge against Riley for tattling on her about a broken curfew; the consequences of which torpedoed the summer romance between Maisie and Mack--this is the 'monumental' betrayal for which Maisie can never forgive Riley.  Never mind that Maisie deliberately pursued Mack that summer despite the full knowledge that he was her sister's best friend and that Riley harbored a long unrequited love for him--this is the betrayal for which Riley has difficulty forgiving Maisie.  But whatever Maisie wants Maisie gets, especially when it comes to men, and she doesn't let a little thing like a wife or a fiancee stand between her and whatever man she wants--no matter if the fiancee is her best friend.

When Mack and his parents return to town for the bookstore's anniversary celebrations, Maisie thinks she finally has her one chance to make things work between her and Mack.  While Riley's determined to keep her old feelings for Mack buried lest she's heartbroken again by his interest in nothing more than a friendship with her.  In fact, due to the scars of that long ago summer, Riley, in all the years since, has expected nothing more than friendship from any man in her life.

Though the main drama is between Maisie and Riley, there is also sub-plot drama involving the youngest sister, Adalee, and her loser boyfriend.  And there is also a sub-plot involving the paternity of Riley's twelve year old son--a secret Riley has kept since the boy's conception.  There are wisps of dysfunction referred to involving the sisters' parents: their mother is a controlling, dramatic, social drunk; their father was largely absent from their childhoods due to his job; and there are a couple of  incidences during their childhood that speak to a parental indifference or neglect at its worst or absent-mindedness at its best.  However, these references are never fully explored.

This is a story of mending relationships, of letting go what could have been, of taking a hard look inside oneself at one's faults, and of moving past the fear that has been crippling one's life for the better part of a decade.  At its heart is family and the bonds between these three sisters that are mended after so many years of estrangement.  For all the frustration Maisie incites with her self-centeredness, in the end she redeems herself by finally opening her eyes to the dysfunctional dynamics at work in her own life.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at http://www.tanafrench.com/) does not offer any insi…