A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
I hadn’t heard of A Hundred Summers before. I actually bought the book as part of a 2 for £7 offer at Asda! The other book I bought as part of the deal was Lena Durham’s Not That Kind of Girl (I was ecstatic that the paperback version had finally been released).
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams is the perfect summer read. Ideal to read on the beach or in your back garden – preferably with a cocktail in hand.
It’s 1931 and Lily Dane and her best friend Budgie Byrne are on the verge on finishing college in New Hampshire. Budgie is dating college student Graham Pendleton, a gorgeous American football player who plays for Dartmouth. Lily, always feels like she is in her friend’s shadow, Budgie is full of glamour and confidence and oozes sophistication, however when Lily spots the handsome Nick Greenwald on the pitch she is soon to be in the spotlight.
The two begin an intense and passionate relationship. Both from a privileged background in New York the pair begin planning for the future. However it is set to be short lived when Lily introduces Nick to her fragile father at Christmas and he immediately dismisses Nick. As Hitler and his army are beginning to make rumbles across Europe, Lily’s father is worried for his daughter as Nick comes from a Jewish family.
Ignoring her father’s wishes she meets with Nick at his family’s annual New Year’s Eve party. The young lovers make a pact to run away and elope. But they only get so far before Lily’s Aunt finds them to tell them that Lily’s father has had a heart attack. Distraught that her rash actions has caused her father to have a heart attack she flees to attend him and doesn’t see Nick for the next seven years.
Fast forward to 1938 and Lily is summering at Rhode Island with her family and spends most of the time doting on her younger sister Kiki. It’s here at Seaview that her past catches up with her and she finally meets Nick however he is married – to her former best friend Budgie. Budgie tries to make attempts to talk to Lily and rekindle their friendship however Lily still struggles to come to terms with her actions. Her feelings for Nick are still there and there is still passion between Lily and Nick whenever they are alone. To take Lily’s mind off the situation Budgie arranges for her former flame Graham to visit Seaview with the hope of Lily and him hooking up. They do, however Lily doesn’t mirror Graham’s keenness. They get engaged however Lily breaks it off when she finds out he is cheating on her.
Towards the end of the summer there is a huge storm, all the houses in Seaview are washed away and all who live there battle to stay alive. However one resident doesn’t make it – Budgie.
So the big question is why did Nick marry Budgie when he was so in love with Lily. And here it is, the night of the New Year’s part seven years ago, Lily’s father found out that his wife was having an affair with Nick’s dad which then causes him to have a heart attack. Budgie witnessed the pair one night and Nick also found about the affair. To keep it hidden from Lily and so she never finds out the real reason why her father was unwell Budgie forces Nick to marry her.
After Budgie’s death Nick reveals to Lily that their actions didn’t cause her father to have a heart attack, her mother’s did and Kiki is in fact a sister to both him and Lily. The two reunite and the book finishes with Nick having gone to fight in Europe in the Second World War and Lily giving birth to their third child.
The two stories run parallel each other so it isn’t until nearly the end that we learn what initially broke the pair up. I read the majority of the book in two days and loved it. It’s such an easy read yet utterly gripping and compelling.