The Summer Guest
The Summer Guest
Dial Press, Paperback, 9780385335829, 384pp.
Publication Date: May 31, 2005
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for his radiant novel in stories, Mary and O’Neil, Justin Cronin has already been hailed as a writer of astonishing gifts. Now Cronin’s new novel, The Summer Guest, fulfills that promise—and more. With a rare combination of emotional insight, narrative power, and lyrical grace, Cronin transforms the simple story of a dying man’s last wish into a rich tapestry of family love.
On an evening in late summer, the great financier Harry Wainwright, nearing the end of his life, arrives at a rustic fishing camp in a remote area of Maine. He comes bearing two things: his wish for a day of fishing in a place that has brought him solace for thirty years, and an astonishing bequest that will forever change the lives of those around him.
From the battlefields of Italy to the turbulence of the Vietnam era, to the private battles of love and family, The Summer Guest reveals the full history of this final pilgrimage and its meaning for four people: Jordan Patterson, the haunted young man who will guide Harry on his last voyage out; the camp’s owner Joe Crosby, a Vietnam draft evader who has spent a lifetime “trying to learn what it means to be brave”; Joe’s wife, Lucy, the woman Harry has loved for three decades; and Joe and Lucy’s daughter Kate—the spirited young woman who holds the key to the last unopened door to the past.
As their stories unfold, secrets are revealed, courage is tested, and the bonds of love are strengthened. And always center stage is the place itself—a magical, forgotten corner of New England where the longings of the human heart are mirrored in the wild beauty of the landscape.
Intimate, powerful, and profound, The Summer Guest reveals Justin Cronin as a storyteller of unique and marvelous talent. It is a book to treasure.
“Justin Cronin succeeds, touchingly and tenderly, in portraying life itself as a triumph of hope over experience.”—The Boston Globe
"The bedrock realities of family and place remain constant in spite of the vicissitudes of emotions and events, and the voices of these Mainers have a lovely calm that evokes the timeless summer place. ... the novel’s recognition of human frailty and nobility rings true, as does its faithful recreation of a place outside the storms of history."—Publishers Weekly
"The Summer Guest is a jewel, the best book I've read in a long, long time.... By all means take it to the beach, but be warned that it's more than entertainment - it's a work of art. Justin Cronin has written a great American novel.... reading this novel, I couldn't help but think of Hemingway, Andre Dubus and Wallace Stegner."—Susan Balee, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Here is a gifted and assured writer whose work reveals a fine sense of place and thoughtful characters who have something worth saying.... The Summer Guest is a haunting story about the way time changes us and about what endures."—Houston Chronicle