Thursday, June 11, 2015

Enchanted August: A Novel by Brenda Bowen


Enchanted August: A Novel
by Brenda Bowen
Pamela Dorman Books, 2015
320 pages
source: publisher via Netgalley

Summary (from goodreads):

On a dreary spring day in Brooklyn, Lottie Wilkinson and Rose Arbuthnot spot an ad on their children’s preschool bulletin board:

Hopewell Cottage
Little Lost Island, Maine.
Old, pretty cottage to rent on a small island.
Springwater, blueberries, sea glass.
August.

Neither can afford it, but they are smitten—Lottie could use a break from her overbearing husband and Rose from her relentless twins. On impulse, they decide to take the place and attract two others to share the steep rent: Caroline Dester, an indie movie star who’s getting over a very public humiliation, and elderly Beverly Fisher, who’s recovering from heartbreaking loss. If it’s not a perfect quartet, surely it will be fine for a month in the country.

When they arrive on the island, they are transformed by the salt air; the breathtaking views; the long, lazy days; and the happy routine of lobster, corn, and cocktails on the wraparound porch. By the time of the late-August blue moon, real life and its complications have finally fallen far, far away. For on this idyllic island they gradually begin to open up: to one another and to the possibilities of lives quite different from the ones they’ve been leading. Change can’t be that hard, can it?

With a cast of endearingly imperfect characters and set against the beauty of a gorgeous New England summer, Enchanted August brilliantly updates the beloved classic The Enchanted April in a novel of love and reawakening that is simply irresistible.

My thoughts:

Whether you've read Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April  or not, Enchanted August  by Brenda Bowen is a near-perfect summer novel. So clear your calendar, pull up a beach chair, pour a cold drink, and prepare to be transported.

Just like The Enchanted April's  castle in Italy, I inhabited Hopewell Cottage on Little Lost Island, Maine... and regular readers of this blog know how much I love Maine! I gazed at the ocean, gathered sea glass, smelled the flowers, listened to birdsong, and feasted on lobster. Pure bliss.

Bowen's characters - a pair of harried New York City moms, a publicly humiliated movie star, and the elderly, grieving Beverly Fisher - offer an entertaining twist on Von Arnim's Londoners... especially Beverly Fisher. I delighted in my time with this group.

As a rule, I am not a fan of 'modern retellings'. In fact, I can only think of one I truly enjoyed. Now that number has doubled. And by the way, If you haven't read The Enchanted April, now is the perfect time. Why not read the two books back to back?

Bottom line: 
Relax and enjoy some summer fun. Escapist reading doesn't get much better.

My rating:


42 comments:

  1. Oh, the worry when one of one's favourite books is re-written... But I shall definitely have to read it!

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    1. Vicki - The Enchanted April is one of my favorites, too. I was a little nervous at first, but the Maine setting was enough to convince me.

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  2. Thanks for your great review JoAnn. This sounds wonderful and perfect for this time of year!

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    1. Pat - It's definitely a wonderful summer read, but this setting would also be welcome in the depths of winter... at least for me ;-)

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  3. I loved your review and you know how much I loved this book! My fave this summer so far!

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    1. Thanks, Patty. I'm so glad you brought this book to my attention!

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  4. This sounds like a great summer read!

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  5. Thanks for this review. I'm not a fan of modern retellings, but this looks like a good summer read! Can't go wrong with the Maine setting!

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    1. Monica - Modern retellings can be tricky, but Bowen and Maine worked their magic on me :)

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  6. Sounds like just the thing for summer. I have not read Enchanted April, but I think I did see the movie. Probably not the same thing. LOL

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    1. Kay - The movie version of The Enchanted April is excellent. I'd love to watch it again with Enchanted August fresh in my mind!

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  7. I haven't read Enchanted April though I'm familiar with the basic story. This sounds absolutely lovely! I'll definitely have to pick this one up before summer is over.

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    1. Katherine - I think you should try to read both books this summer ;-)

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  8. so, since I agree with you on the retellings, I'm in suspense... which was the good one?
    I thought The Innocents (a retelling of The Age of Innocence) was well done, though, btw.
    I have this from the library on CDs, so I'm looking forward to a listen.

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    1. Audrey - I haven't read The Innocents, but maybe I should...my record with retellings seems to be improving. The one I enjoyed (on audio, at least) was The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine, an updated Sense and Sensibility.

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    2. Oh, I agree with you on that one!!

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    3. Audrey - Just like Enchanted August, the setting had a lot to do with my enjoyment of The Three Weissmanns of Westport. We lived in Fairfield county, CT back in the 80's and I have fond memories of Westport.

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  9. This one sounds fun! But, my big question of how a mom of twins can jet away to Maine for the month of August?!

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    1. Sarah - As the mother of twins myself, I just had to suspend my disbelief to get past that one ;-)

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  10. I have to say I would buy this book just for the cover. I recently heard Enchanted April on the radio so would like to read it first as enjoyed it but then would definitely give this a go.

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    1. Emma - It is a beautiful, summery cover! The Enchanted April is such a lovely book, so I hope you do read it... and then follow up with Enchanted August :)

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  11. This does sound charming. The cover reminds me of Where'd you go Bernadette. Thanks for the review, I'm tempted.

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    1. Vintage Reading - The cover is definitely reminiscent of Bernadette... and I really liked that book, too!

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  12. Sounds great. I have always enjoyed Pamela Dorman books.

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    1. Nise' - I'm always certain of a good read when I pick up a Pamela Dorman book!

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  13. I first noticed the cover on this book because it's great but now I really, really want to read it. You've been really bad for my reading list lately JoAnn. Lol.

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    1. Darlene - Sorry about that, but not really ;-)

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    2. I just went and rented the movie to watch before listening to the book. I can really see it's breaking your heart that you're adding to my reading list. lolol.

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    3. Darlene - The movie is SO good! After reading your message, I gad to see if it was available on Netflix instant. It is and I just moved it to the top of my list! Hope you enjoy both the movie and the book :)

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  14. This sounds enchanting indeed! I'd love to stay in a cottage on an island in Maine. I'll be going to Portland and Camden, Maine during my road trip this fall. :))

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    1. Arti - I love that part of Maine and cannot recommend The Gand Harbor Inn in Camden highly enough! One of my favorite hotels anywhere.

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  15. I have heard good things about this one, and I would love a getaway like that! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - This could end up being my top beach read of 2015!

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  16. This does sound super charming! I seem to be reading a lot of charming books lately, so this is probably one more to add to my list.

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    1. AThira - If you are in the mood for charming, you'll love this!

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  17. geez, just when I thought I had my summer reading list down, you have to add another enticing choice. Thanks a lot.

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    1. Midlife Roadtripper - Sorry about that, but not really ;-)

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  18. Well I might just have to read both of the books back to back - you sell them both so well!

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    1. Lisa - If you haven't read The Enchanted April, definitely read that first. Then enjoy a trip to Maine! Summer reading at its best :)

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  19. Sounds like the perfect beach read. I'd like to imagine a Maine getaway too! thanks. will put it on my TBR list.

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    1. Thecuecard - This is an excellent beach book! I especially loved the Maine angle.

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