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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It Happens in the Hamptons
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, my father was the chauffeur for Anna Gould, later to become the Duchess of Talleyrand. For the better part of each summer, our family stayed in Saratoga Springs where Miss Anna was a member of the elite higher echelons and we became members of the lower local, working strata. We were cognizant of the major class differences and knew enough never to cross the rigid boundaries.

However, this is exactly what Katie Doyle – the main protagonist of It Happens in the Hamptons: A Novel by Holly Peterson – did when she and her young son, Huck, moved from a lake-side community in Oregon to the East Coast community of Southampton. By virtue of her quasi-boyfriend and her own gutsy initiative, she befriended not only the local “townies” but members of the top one percent tier who drive up from New York City to the Hamptons for the weekend, as well as endearing herself into the middle-class landed-gentry, whose sea-faring and whaling forebears originally founded the quaint communities dotting the Long Island shores.

Katie and George Porter were instantly attracted to one another during a Portland educational conference, spending the rest of the sessions in a hotel room rather than in the lecture halls. Overwhelmed by his insistence, and distracted by the sudden demise of her mother, Katie agrees to spend the summer in a small cottage in Southampton, with the promise that she and George would eventually move into a more solid, lasting relationship. When she meets Luke Forrester, a local marine biology teacher and part owner of the Tide Runners water skills camp, Katie finds herself floundering in deep waters as she begins to doubt her feelings for George. What transpires between Memorial Day weekend and the last fading days of September is grist for the millwork of Peterson’s third venture into the world of fiction.

Peterson’s author page on amazon.com calls this novel “social satire fiction”, but it is easily just a step or two higher in its real genre: romantic, suspenseful chick-lit. As such, it does have an interesting plot line with, of course, the requisite sex scenes written with just the right touch of explicitness – not too graphic, but steamy enough to keep turning the pages. The characters are believable; most of the time realistic as they swim in and around the tidewaters of Katie’s and Huck’s lives. Although a few of the author’s attempts to caricaturize members of Hampton society – locals and one-percenters alike – did seem a bit forced; a bit too “put on”, too “over the top”. However, with the realization that It Happens in the Hamptons is supposed to be, in fact, a satire, more than several of the more humorous passages and descriptions rang chuckle-out-loud true.

I have to admit, though, that it did take me a while to catch on to the sometimes awkward and stylistically stilted manner of writing. The first fifty or so pages did have a few grammatically jarring juxtapositions, but as I warmed up Peterson’s plot lines and characters, her story of Katie’s experiences –  mingling up and down social strati while juggling emotions between two lovers – finally flowed nicely into a satisfying, nearly surprising denouement. Who and what George finally turns out to be, the revelation of Luke Forrester’s secret, and the resolution(s) of Katie’s turmoiled emotions are, in this case, exemplar hallmarks of a rather good satirical commentary on moder- day cultural mores.

Even if it is couched in a suspenseful chick-lit romance.  

Enjoy the read!

1:18 pm edt          Comments


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June J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:

the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Forty-Thirty 
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast

Bethlehem

Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood

 

 

Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her fourth novel.

June's novels can be purchased at amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble,
at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area,
and 
the Gateway Pharmacy in Phoenixvile, PA
.

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,