I was so excited to read Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle since I’m a fan of his famous novel, The Last Unicorn. If anyone else is approaching Summerlong because of the same reason , I must warn you that this is a totally different work by the same author! Both in tone and plot.
Summerlong is the story of a middle aged couple living on a tranquil island. That is, until they meet a young waitress that is looking for a warm place to sleep. And they decide to lend her their garage. This mysterious waitress is kind and charming, but she also seems to be running away from something… Not to mention she seems to have brought with her an unusually long summer.
- The prose was beautiful. This book is so well written that I could picture myself wandering around that island full of summer. Fans of The last unicorn shouldn’t be surprised by this fact.
- The whole story has a melancholic vibe going on. (And I love melancholy in my books.) I think this had a lot to do with the main characters being a 60 something historian and a 50 something flight attendant. This couple, Abe and Joanna, seemed to be getting used to growing old – while also sighing with nostalgia over the good old days.
- I love mythology. Of any kind. And this book incorporates some famous Greek myths into the plot.
- The pacing was too SLOW. I was literally 47% into the book and wondering when would something happen. Though the writing style was beautiful and almost mystical, it felt disappointing that most of it was just to narrate mundane situations. The first half of the book turned dull when I got over the spell of the lovely prose.
- I did not identify with the characters. Since the first half of the book is focused on the absolutely normal life of Abe and Joanna (and later on Johanna’s daughter Lilly), I would have expected to feel empathy towards them, to find them interesting and bond with them. But most of the time they were just boring and uni-dimensional. The plot often revolves around them having dinner or speaking of different kinds of harmonicas, which made me feel like I was reading the lives of my next door neighbors.
- There’s just a bit of magic. When I got this novel I was expecting a Fantasy Novel, but this one felt like Magical Realism. And just during the second half of the book. At times. Though the protagonists can’t stop talking about the utterly mysterious waitress they just met, I, as a reader, wasn’t very interested in her since she doesn’t make a lot of appearances until the latest chapters.
- The ending felt rushed. All the magic and interesting characters contained in this book were condensed in the final chapters. I would have liked to read more about them. Either that or just have the whole book turned into a short story (that would probably be more magical and interesting).
- People looking for light fantasy and a bit of mythology
- People interested in the daily life a normal middle aged couple
- Adults (there are sex scenes)
- People looking for a quiet book
- People interested in harmonicas
What do you think? Will you add Summerlong to your TBR list? Are you a fan of Peter S. Beagle? Let’s discuss in the comments 🙂
- Many thanks to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book to review!