Montauk by Nicola Harrison
It’s 1938 and Montauk is becoming a summer destination for the wealthy of New York City. Beatrice Bordeaux expected to spend a couple of weeks in Providence with her husband as usual but he changes their plans and lets her know that she will be summering in Montauk for the entire season and he will join her on weekends. He plans on investing in the town and feels Beatrice can help him by making inroads with the wives of wealthy businessmen. It would be a great plan except Beatrice was hoping they could spend more time together since it’s been over eight years since their marriage and she hasn’t yet conceived. She was hoping more time together would help them finally become parents but as the summer goes on and her husband spends more and more time in the city her hopes for her relationship falter. She tries to befriend the wives summering in Montauk but coming from humble beginnings Beatrice finds herself spending more and more time in town and the fishing village with the Elizabeth, the local washerwoman and Patrick, the lighthouse keeper. When circumstances throw Patrick and Beatrice together will she follow the advice of her New York friend and confidant or follow her heart?
The author beautifully illustrates the life of leisure the women of a certain set enjoyed during the depression in a resort town. The juxtaposition of the wealthy and the resort employees who are terrified to misstep and lose their jobs is stark. Having the perspective of a woman that is outside of both realms was a good choice for the focus of the narrative and her struggle to belong is felt. I truly enjoyed the book and the fight between the rational and emotional within Beatrice but I really didn’t like the ending. While I dislike endings that are served up tied with a bow, I also do not like endings that seem written just to startle the reader. My advice: stop the book a few pages from the end and craft your own ending.