The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

  • Title:  The Book of Summer
  • Author:  Michelle Gable
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  May 2017 – Thomas Dunne Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family’s Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she’s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.

The Book of Summer unravels the power and secrets of Cliff House as told through the voices of Ruby Packard, a bright-eyed and idealistic newlywed on the eve of WWII, the home’s definitive guestbook, and Bess herself. Bess’s grandmother always said it was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother’s words in ways she never contemplated. (publisher)

My take:  The Book of Summer is the story of a summer home situated on a Nantucket bluff. The bluff is threatened by erosion and the future of the home is bleak. Bess, daughter of the current resident, returns to the island to help her mother pack up and move before the house falls into the sea.

With the help of a guest book (named The Book of Summer) from the days of Bess’s great-grandmother’s time at the house she revisits her past and that of the generations before her. Most of the novel concentrates on the 1940s and present day. Bess can learn some important lessons from the people who wrote in the book – especially the strong women who faced many challenges head-on.

Michelle Gable’s novel is immensely entertaining – perfect for a summer read. Recommended to fans of family dramas and a Nantucket setting.

About the author:  New York Times bestselling author of A PARIS APARTMENT and I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS, Michelle Gable graduated from The College of William & Mary. After a twenty year career in finance,  she now writes full-time. Michelle lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.


“Gable cleverly illuminates the past, revealing how it mirrors the present. This is a splendid multigenerational novel about the strength of the women of Cliff House.” – Publishers Weekly

“A sure bet for women-fiction fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Nantucket novels.” – Booklist


26 thoughts on “The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

    • So, I guess it’s whatever definition one puts to “summer read”, right? Many of the novels published at this time of year are described by publicists in their pitches as summer reads, beach reads, etc. But that’s only in the northern hemisphere as many bloggers will point out 🙂 Once in a while I’ll follow a “great beach read” comment with “or any time of year read”.


  1. Good to hear you found this more entertaining than I did. Could have been my mood at the time but I just didn’t connect!!


    • Despite the slow start (that I didn’t mention because I forgot by the time I wrote my thoughts up) I enjoyed it. But not every book is going to grab every reader, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have this…started it…then decided to stop and save it for more summery weather…but I enjoyed the few pages I read.


  3. I love visiting Nantucket in the summers via the books I read….and it always feels as though I’m there with the characters. I’ve been noticing this one, and have added it to my list. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I’ve been on the fence on this one because I know Kathryn at Book Date just couldn’t make it work for her but I’m thinking I may give it a try based off your review. I love the cover and the concept!


    • I gave it a 3.5 on GR. The review of my favorite “summer book” (so far) will post on June 1st. The cover is definitely inviting!


  5. Hi Mary,

    I already have this one on my list, but I also admit that I don’t understand this seasonal categorizing of books, which publishers and authors seem to set such great store by these days.

    I tend to read a book whenever the mood takes me, or my review obligations dictate and the conscious thought about whether I am reading it at the right time of year, just never enters my head.

    In fact, in the charity shop, we sell Christmas stories all year round, as most readers are only interested in the fact that the book is by their favourite author, or it is one of the books on their author list that they need to fill a gap.

    I’m pleased that you enjoyed the read, a good recommendation for when it is at the top of my TBR list 🙂



    • I’m a mood reader as well, Yvonne. I listened to a podcast this morning where the host described beach reads or summer reads as something you can read a paragraph or two, get distracted by what’s happening around you and then go back to reading, not missing much. Lighter fiction would probably fit the bill. This book earned a 3.5 stars on GR from me so not the highest rating but also the lowest.
      Interesting that Christmas books sell year round. I guess I might pick one up at a shop and save it for later in the year but I tend not to read them in summer. All this aside, I didn’t mean to imply there’s only one right time to read this book. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.


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