Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The High Season by Judy Blundell

Ruthie loves her home in Orient. She and her husband have spent years fixing the place up and making it perfect. But in order to afford the house on her museum salary, it means renting it out to high end travelers every summer. The money made in those few months is enough to cover taxes and upkeep and get them through until the following year.

This summer the house is being rented out to none other than Adeline Clay. The gorgeous widow of artist Peter Clay - Ruthie's one-time employer - has taken the house for the entire summer, eschewing her current flame's request that she spend the months in the Hamptons with him instead. And Adeline's arrival in Orient is just one of many things that spell trouble for Ruthie's carefully built life.

Ruthie and her husband - always on the brink of getting back together - couldn't be further apart, Ruthie's teenage daughter is having issues with her friends, and even the job Ruthie loves may be in jeopardy. As the summer slips by Ruthie's life is altered in unexpected ways and it seems nothing will ever be the same again.

The High Season is as intoxicating and entrancing as a perfect summer evening!

So Ruthie and her husband inherited their house in Orient. And never really could afford it. The solution was to put it up for rent each summer, using the money to pay the ever increasing taxes and costs of maintaining and fixing up the place. And it was an existence that was fine with Ruthie. But at the point the story begins both her husband and her teenage daughter have grown tired of it.

And yet their existence is still ok. Ruthie's husband has stuck around in spite of their being separated. Ruthie is happy with her job and her situation. But this particular summer everything falls apart. Ruthie's husband begins to become distant, her daughter is going through some things she won't open up to Ruthie about, and the job she's worked so hard on for so long isn't as secure as Ruthie once thought.

Through all of this, she's faced with Adeline Clay. Everyone locally wants to woo Adeline, including the museum Ruthie works for. But Ruthie's history with Adeline's ex is something that Ruthie has tried hard to put behind her, something Adeline's presence makes quite difficult.

And as Adeline becomes more and more popular in Orient, it begins to seem to Ruthie that Adeline is gaining everything Ruthie herself is losing.

It's hard not to sympathize with Ruthie even though her situation is one of her own making. Her summer is something of a train wreck and it's pretty impossible to look away. But she's humanized also, meaning that even though as a reader we're able to see Ruthie's missteps, it's easy too to imagine making the same mistakes ourselves.

Also, Ruthie is more down to earth and real than many of her other Orient counterparts. There's a level of snobbery to the story that would be overwhelmingly off-putting without Ruthie's more balanced normalcy.

I loved the social commentary, I loved the setting, and I really loved the fact that this is such a summer read! It did make me long for the beach and/or a pool to read alongside, though :)

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