The Summer We Read Gatsby
By Danielle Ganek
When their Aunt Lydia dies, half-sisters Pecksland Moriarty and Stella Blue Cassandra Olivia Moriarty, become the executors of her will. She has asked something rather simple of the two — spend one last summer at her ramshackle cottage in the Hamptons, aptly named Fool’s House, before selling it and, while there, find a thing of utmost value.
Pecksland, Peck for short, and Cassie, although Peck prefers to call her Stella, are exact opposites. Peck, an actress, is all drama with an outfit and shoes for every occasion. She is always concerned with a “situation” which can range from a true problem to her sister’s lack of fashion sense. Cassie is a journalist and translator living in Switzerland and cares little for fashion much to the horror of her sister. She’s a recent divorcee deeply mourning her aunt’s death and has little in common with the sister she doesn’t always believe she’s related to.
Aunt Lydia was a devotee of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and she’s instilled that same love in her nieces. The book, and all their aunt loved about it, is the source of Peck and Cassie’s greatest memories of their aunt and the cottage. Aunt Lydia also liked to think of herself as a patron of the arts and always had an artist living at Fool’s House to give it that artsy vibe. The current resident is an unusual character that neither sister can figure out but, since he was there at the request of their aunt, they’re willing to live with him and his antics until they can decide what to do with the place.
Spending their days sorting through papers and looking for a thing of utmost value bring Peck and Cassie a closeness they never thought possible. They decide to carry out their aunt’s wishes and host the official Fool’s Party to open the summer. The party, which is a success, leaves the sisters with a problem — a painting which hung over the fireplace for as long as they both remember goes missing and they begin to speculate that it might actually be the thing of great value. The two gather a strange and wonderful cast of characters to help them find the painting and in the process, find a family, find love, and find they really are sisters with a lot in common.
I remember reading The Great Gatsby and falling in love with the setting and the characters and wondering if people like these characters actually existed in the world. They do, just not in the world I live in. But that didn’t stop me from me from being fascinated anyway. I felt much the same about this book. Ganek brings together some truly wonderful characters that make you want to rush off to live at Fool’s House. Peck is full of fun and brings a new outlook to life that Cassie never let herself imagine. The sisters inhabit a strange little world and in an odd way it brings the two together.
It’s a chick-lit sort of book with some fabulous characters, the beach, and a little romance. Witty and sarcastic at times, Ganek makes it easy for you to fall for her characters. You don’t have to be on the beach to enjoy this book but I think it’s certainly an excellent summer book. Ganek will make you smile and want to break out the beach chair.
In addition to this blog, I also do reviews for The Book Reporter website. The above is a shortened version of my review, which can be read in full here. The book was provided to me by the publisher for The Book Reporter review.