I won’t trouble to explain how I got into this one. Beatriz Williams’ A Hundred Summers is a nice airplane book for those who like to indulge in this genre. It’s a moneyed world of Manhattanites and ivy leaguers. We’re in 1931, just before the crash, when Lily Dane, literary wallflower, accompanies her dazzling and pushy friend, Budgie, to a Dartmouth football game. In true romantic novel tradition, she meets and feels immediate tingles and electric warmth for the tall dark quarterback. Unfortunately, this hunk is Jewish. She doesn’t care, but the rest of her crowd does.
From there we switch to six years later and find ourselves in a beach resort in Rhode Island, a socialite retreat where both Lily’s and Budgie’s families have summered for generations. Budgie shows up, having just married the Jewish hunk, for whom Lily still carries a torch, and complications ensue.
Williams does a nice job of contriving believable complications and bouncing back and forth between the earlier and later stories, then bringing them together in the end. However, I had a hard time with a number of elements. The gallantry of certain of the men, for example. The idea that a 19-year-old guy would deny a girl begging for sex with the excuse that she was too good for the back seat seems completely alien to male psychology. Or maybe it’s just mine. Or maybe it is a knightly element that the romance genre demands. I also thought it fortuitous that a hurricane would erase all the characters who might remain obstacles to Lily’s final happiness.
Anyhow, the person who put the book in my hands said it was “really, really, good.” so maybe I’m just the wrong audience.