The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
by Pam Jenoff
Why did you choose this book? it’s WWII fiction with an Italy connection
When did you read this book? August 2015
Who should read this book? readers of WWII era historical fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach from Goodreads
Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.
Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.
I really liked this one — a lot! — and yet it somehow left me disappointed. I can’t even say why I am disappointed, but somehow the story left me wanting for…..something.
This is a WWII era story, which is always a draw for me. One specific thing that attracted me to this book was a perceived Italy connection, but in truth, this connection is very minimal. Addie, the main character is indeed from Italy, but she comes over to America at the beginning of the story and there isn’t really much else said about Italy. A much more important part of the story is that she is a Jew during WWII; a dangerous time to be a Jew in Italy or any other part of Europe!
Addie is sent to the safety of America to live with her Aunt and Uncle, whom she has never met. There she meets and becomes part of an Irish-Catholic family and falls in love with the oldest son. When tragedy strikes the family, she runs off to Washington DC. While there she again runs into Charile, the oldest son, and then flees to London. I think one of my issues with the story was timing. Everything moved entirely too quickly. Though it felt like this took place over a span of years….at least a decade or two….the entire story took place in only 3-4 years! That seemed much too short a period to have moved past an event that was so life-changing!
Another issue I had was that I really didn’t like Addie very much. At the beginning of the book she seemed to be an independent, resourceful young woman. One example is that when her aunt and uncle failed to show up to claim her at the port where her ship docked, she managed to talk her way into the country anyway. But she quickly regressed to a girl lacking in confidence who lets the men in her life dictate how she should proceed with her life. I’m not sure, even at the end of the story, that she had gotten past that. And she made bad decision after bad decision always, in my opinion, choosing the wrong man and failing to recognize the signs that a man was interested. She also, while professing to be grateful to her aunt for taking her in, didn’t really demonstrate that she was grateful. More than once she chose to ‘follow a man’ when her aunt could have used her support and presence. Addie was really a pretty self-absorbed girl.
That said, I really did enjoy the story. Though I didn’t like Addie, or even Charlie, there were several characters I did like. If you enjoy WWII era stories, pick this one up!
And if you would like a copy, you are in luck! Pam Jenoff is gifting one of the readers of this blog with a copy of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach PLUS a limited edition Chelsea Beach bag! (Sorry, US and Canada only). If you would like to win a copy of this book, leave a comment below telling me why you want to read this one! Contest closes at midnight (central) September 1, 2015.
About Pam Jenoff
Pam Jenoff is the Quill-nominated internationally bestselling author of The Kommadant’s Girl. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are based on her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.
My Rating: ★★★1/2 3-1/2 Stars
This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes.
Pam’s Tour Stops
Monday, July 27th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 28th: Raven Haired Girl – review and guest post
Tuesday, July 28th: The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, July 29th: Bewitched Bookworms – excerpt #1
Thursday, July 30th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt #2
Saturday, August 1st: Romantic Historical Reviews – excerpt #3
Monday, August 3rd: Just One More Chapter
Monday, August 3rd: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, August 4th: The Romance Dish
Wednesday, August 5th: Bibliotica
Thursday, August 6th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, August 10th: Read Love Blog – author guest post
Tuesday, August 11th: West Metro Mommy Reads
Wednesday, August 12th: Let Them Read Books – Q&A
Friday, August 14th: Written Love Reviews
Monday, August 17th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, August 17th: Luxury Reading – guest post
Tuesday, August 18th: A Novel Review
Wednesday, August 19th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Thursday, August 20th: A Literary Vacation
Friday, August 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings – Review
Friday, August 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings – Q&A
Monday, August 24th: One Curvy Blogger
Tuesday, August 25th: The Reading Date
Wednesday, August 26th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, August 27th: Life is Story
Friday, August 28th: Bookshelf FantasiesTBD: Lavish Bookshelf