This was hands-down a fabulous summer read for me, and I knew it would be based on the premise and location alone. After about halfway down the second page, I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down. Reading it was like coming home. I love stories that pull on the heartstrings and let me tell you… this one did not disappoint. I’m an Ontario gal and this story takes place in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, not too far from me or from where I grew up camping and cottaging in the summers on gorgeous lakes in the Canadian Shield area. There’s just something about driving up north on your way to these beautiful places that sets your mind at ease. That certain place where the highway turns from a ridiculously busy six lanes north of Toronto to a double lane, twinned highway. The landscape changes drastically from hydro towers and pavement to trees and rivers. It’s bumper-to-bumper traffic to smooth sailing in no time at all. The air is cleaner, the sky is bluer, the lakes are shimmering, and all your troubles just melt away. It’s such a precise spot that this happens, it’s as though you cross an invisible line, and your chest gets a little lighter when you cross it.
When Fortune writes about what it’s like in Barry’s Bay, living the summers on the lake, there’s so much nostalgia on the pages for me! Between that and the one-that-got-away-that-you-never-truly-get-over vibes, I was absolutely hooked. There were so many lines in the book that resonated so deeply with me for so many reasons. There were several “pause pebbles” in the story for me, which Cece Lyra (P.S. Literary agent) will know all about; those “wow” lines that make you stop reading to reflect; the ones that hit you in the feels and blow your mind a little bit (or a lot!). (And as a writer, these are the only times you want your reader to stop reading!) It was like Fortune peered inside all my most precious personal memories, fears, hopes, and wishes and wrote them on the page in the most perfect way. Reading this story was like opening a memory box, and I want to read it again and again.
I had some travelling to do, so I read half the book on the planes and in the airports. The only reason I put it down was because I was forced to by boarding/de-boarding, having to walk from gate to gate, and driving home at 3am! I couldn’t wait to keep reading, and by the second day, I’d finished it. I love the way the author holds the tension, keeps us guessing at what happened in the past that affects the present so much, and leads us down memory lane. Even if you didn’t grow up going to a cottage every summer, there’s still so much about childhood and growing up, finding yourself and building relationships, that can resonate with you. It’s a little bit women’s fiction, a little bit coming-of-age, a little bit romance (with a few steamy scenes!), and all incredibly written from start to finish.
This was an excellent, 5-star debut, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.
From the back cover:
Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.
They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of spending summers in cottage country, on the flittering lakeshore of her childhood, she stays in a stylish apartment in Toronto, keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.
Until Percy receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.
For six summers during their youth, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm nights working in his family’s restaurant, Percy and Sam had been inseparable. And when Percy returns to the lake, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until she can confront the decisions she made, they’ll never know whether their love is bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.
Told over the course of six years in the past and one weekend in the present, Every Summer After is a gorgeously romantic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.
Read more about Carley Fortune on her website at www.carleyfortune.com.