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The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Historical fiction

The Summer Wives

by Beatriz Williams

Quick take

This 1950s New England tale of desire and power is about a fisherman’s son and the woman who loves him.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish


Why I love it

Liberty Hardy
BOTM Judge

There’s no time like the present to sink into an enchanting historical novel. I present to you The Summer Wives, a fantastic page-turner set on a New England island where the very privileged live and play. There’s mystery! There’s romance! There are waves crashing and hearts pounding! It’s perfect.

It’s 1951 on Winthrop Island and Miranda Schulyer has returned from boarding school to spend the summer at her new stepfather’s home. Here she will meet Joseph, a friend of her icy new stepsister, and attempt to navigate the complicated politics of privilege and status that separate the wealthy “summer people” from the islanders. Dining at the elite country club one moment and cruising in a fisherman’s boat the next, Miranda finds herself caught between two worlds—especially after tragedy strikes. Eighteen years later, now a star of stage and screen, Miranda returns to the island to face the truth of what happened all those years ago.

The story is engrossing and Williams’ writing is luxurious. And there’s something delightful about reading a book set in a time when all the answers can’t immediately be found on someone’s phone. This was the perfect read for lounging in a hammock and escaping the world. Get yours today! (Hammock not included.)

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In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same—determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather 18 years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved ... even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

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He is the most beautiful boy she's ever seen...

Member thoughts

All (6102)
All (6102)
Love (3254)
Like (2519)
Dislike (329)
6284 ratings
  • 52% Love
  • 40% Like
  • 5% Dislike
  • Mount Pleasant , TX

    This book is immaculate from beginning to end. It grabs your interest right from the beginning and makes you feel completely engulfed in these characters’ world. It’s humanity at its worst and best.

  • Sarasota, FL

    I fell in love with the book and it’s characters; I wanted to know everything about them. The way Beatriz Williams wrote was so masterful and intentional. It was thrilling, beautiful, and refreshing.

  • Mogadore, OH

    I’m not usually one for love stories but this one I could not put down. The twist and turns throughout the whole book and the fight for true love left me in tears by then end. Wonderful wonderful book

  • Greenbrier, TN

    OMG! Hands down amazing book. I couldn’t put it down! I absolutely fell in love with every single character. The ending got me right in the feels. There are not enough words to describe my love for it

  • Stamford, CT

    I loved the way this story was broken up. The timeline jumps around giving you layers of information and connecting the dots. I did see the end coming and wasn’t surprised, but I wish there was more!

  • Wrightwood, CA

    I adore anything any everything Beatriz Williams writes, so I knew this book would be no exception for me. Despite being on the longer end, I was still able to power through it. Wonderful summer read.

  • North Haledon , NJ

    Hand down- one of my favorite books ever! Loved how this story goes back and forth from 1930, 1951 and present day 1969 to tell this story from two different views. I will read more from this author-

  • Coalinga, CA

    I LOVE this book! At first I had to really keep track of the back and forth between present and past and who the characters were, but once I got it, ooooooooh it was so good!!! I finished it in a day.

  • Huntsville, AL

    I obsessively read this book. I seriously could not get enough. I loved the story line, how the story was told, the different backgrounds of the characters. Can’t wait to read more from this author!

  • Converse , TX

    This book was the perfect summer read. It was everything I hoped for and then some! There was romance, suspense, mystery. I loved how it flipped back and forth from past to present day. So wonderful!!

  • Madison, WI

    Well written, lovely period piece. A perfect summer read that engaged me and moved me without being too heavy. I could picture the dresses and lovely setting and was rooting for Miranda from the start

  • Crown Point, IN

    The love story of a lifetime with many twists and turns along the way. This story is intertwined with many other spellbound love stories that end up one mixed with the other. You will not be sorry

  • Cornelius, NC

    Loved following the stories of the individuals that intertwined between past and present, loved the Historical aspects. Full of mystery, surprise, love, heartache, murder. It had it all. great ending

  • Broken Bow, NE

    The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the way that the story was told and developed through different characters and throughout time. I liked how everything came together amidst the the twists.

  • Lafayette, CO

    If you've ever "summered" near a body of water then this book will speak to your soul. The pacing is perfect to mirror the lazy days of June culminating in the frenetic pace of August. Just adored it.

  • Lone Jack, MO

    I just finished this book last night...and I am speechless. The amount of love that I felt for the main characters was more than I had braced myself for. I will absolutely be reading more of Williams.

  • Raleigh, NC

    I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. The author does a great job of making you really fall in love with a character you didn't feel you had enough time to. And the ending made me happy

  • Woodworth, LA

    I loved the look into the 1930, 1951 and 1969. The culture and views of those periods. The romance, drama and mystery made this book flow. Although it was a bit predictable it was still a nice retreat

  • Alexandria, VA

    Bunch of horny people get into trouble in summer on a small island. What's not to enjoy? The plot stretches believability but it's a fun escape & best read emulating its characters: seaside & drinking

  • Beach Haven, NJ

    I always like stories that demonstrate the differences between social classes. Plus this was beautifully written and all of the characters were well developped. Williams seems to write complex people.

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