Monday, July 2, 2018

The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis (Spotlight, excerpt, and review)

The Summer Sail


Three college roommates are celebrating a twentieth wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to Bermuda. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will be celebrating her wedding anniversary in style, even as she and her husband keep a secret from the group. Ambitious career woman Caroline happily anticipates several stress-free days away from her magazine job with her boyfriend, Javier, who may or may not be finally inspired to propose. And single mom Lee (annoyingly gorgeous and irresistibly popular in college) hopes she’ll win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has inexplicably become a little bit of a monster.

As the balmy pink shores of Bermuda come into view, tensions simmer, and old jealousies flare, sending the temperature from soothing to scorching in this engrossing tale of three best friends on a vacation they won’t soon forget—but not for the reasons they expect.


From The Summer Sail: A Novel by Wendy Francis. 
Copyright © 2018 by Wendy Francis. 
Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Abby slid the invitation into the envelope. It was a lovely invitation, on sturdy cream card stock with blue script and a jaunty little boat sailing across the top. She knew it was silly to have ordered special cards in this day and age when everything got sent electronically, but a twentieth wedding anniversary seemed to demand a certain amount of decorum. And it was the perfect reason to celebrate. Every year, she and her two college roommates tried to meet up for a reunion somewhere in the States, but this year, she wanted to propose something different: a cruise, an island getaway to Bermuda. What could be more idyllic?

She sealed the envelopes, affixed the stamps, and addressed them in her loopy handwriting, one to Ms. Lee Minor in Charleston, South Carolina, and the other to Ms. Caroline Canton in New York. Abby smiled at the thought of her roommates’ spotting the invitation in a sea of advertisements and magazines in their mailboxes. It was good to try something different every so often, and as she’d said to her husband, Sam, when first pitching the idea, If not now, then when?

Frankly, she was desperate for a proper getaway, one where she would be among friends, plied with good food and drink, and tasked with nothing more than a decision on where to dine that night (the ship had five elegant restaurants on board). Abby had barely survived the homestretch of her boys’ sophomore year—both twins seemed intent on growing up too quickly—and she was counting on the cruise to entertain them with its endless loop of activities. Meanwhile, she could lounge by the pool in peace. It was, as Sam liked to say, a win-win.

Now if she could just twist Caroline’s arm to take a full week off from work and Lee to treat herself and her daughter to a vacation, all would be well. Abby would call them later, once they’d had time to consider the idea. The sales pitch was easy—Caroline needed a break from her stressful editor’s job at Glossy magazine, and Lee and Lacey could use some uninterrupted time together to smooth things out between them (Lee, a teacher, would be on summer vacation in June). Abby needn’t mention any other reason—beyond her anniversary, of course—why it was so pressing that they come. They would find that out soon enough.

She licked the final envelope and addressed it to Sam’s office on campus. He’d get a kick out of that, being invited to his own anniversary party. Somehow the formal invitation made the whole idea of a cruise—up to this point a dreamy mirage—crystallize into reality. Abby could almost smell the sea breeze, taste the margaritas, feel the sand between her toes.

She decided she would walk the letters over to the post office herself, only a few blocks from home. No point in worrying whether the invitations had actually made it into the mail. She headed out the door, envelopes in hand, and was flooded with a newfound sense of anticipation. A sail away to a tropical island. Yes, it was just the thing she needed.

She hoped her roommates would say yes.


4 out of 5 stars

“The Summer Sail” by Wendy Francis is a women’s fiction novel that follows a trio of college roommates who have reunited for a cruise. Ostensibly, Abby has invited her best friends to help her and her family celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary, but each of the women has an additional goal for the trip. Amid the luxury and pampering of a trip to a beautiful Bermuda beach, real-life drama plays out as each reflects upon her life choices and her future.

This is a delicious summertime novel, perfect for relaxing at the beach with a cold libation. I enjoyed the author’s deft evocation of that lasting bond that forms during the halcyon days of college, when one has big dreams and the future is an open book. The three paths taken are contrasted as each woman deals with a crisis in her life that comes to a head on the cruise, juxtaposed with the hedonistic vacation they are enjoying.

Each of the friends’ point of view is provided so that we are able to understand some of what they are grappling with, but this book only provides a keyhole into their lives. We also get a brief look into daughter Lacey’s mindset, contrasting her college experience with that of her mom. I was a little surprised at Abby’s naivete with respect to her sons and I didn’t establish a deep connection with any of the characters but I enjoyed this glimpse into the lives of all of these folks. I am almost tempted to try a cruise but still fear that dreaded seasickness, not to mention being in forced proximity to so many folks! I’m a little disappointed that not all of the strings are tied off by the end of the story but I guess that reflects reality. I think the author has an engaging voice and that fans of women’s fiction will enjoy reading about these three friends.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

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