Believe it or not, we’re moving quickly through summer! Feel like things are going just a bit too fast? Slow it down by picking up one of these books that all take place over one magical summer. These poignant, romantic, charming, and heart-felt novels will show you how to make the most of the time in the sun you have left. Grab a hat, a blanket, some sunscreen, one of these unforgettable beach reads, and get out there!
10 Books That Take Place Over One Magical Summer
In June 1957, socialite Lee has a trust in her name and a handsome fiancé named Roland. When Roland gives her the engagement gift of a lifetime—a beachside hotel on Gin Lane—Lee thinks she is destined for a summer of tennis and Bellinis until a tragedy occurs on the hotel’s opening weekend. Soon, memories from Lee’s troubled childhood of growing up at a hotel with her mother rise to the surface in this sensual and cinematic piece of historical fiction.
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“Utterly captivating. What a lovely summer novel!” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author
“On Gin Lane encapsulates the very best of historical fiction.” —Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author
After her fiancé whisks her off to the glistening shores of Southampton in June of 1957, one young socialite begins to realize that her glamorous summer is giving her everything—except what she really wants—in this new novel from the author of Summer Darlings.
Everleigh “Lee” Farrows thinks she finally has life all figured out: a handsome fiancé named Roland, a trust in her name, and a house in Bronxville waiting for her to fill it with three adorable children. That is, until Roland brings her out to the Hamptons for a summer that will change everything.
Most women could only dream of the engagement present Roland unexpectedly bestows on Lee—a beachside hotel on the prized Gin Lane—but Lee’s delight is clouded by unpleasant memories of another hotel, the Plaza, where she grew up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness. Shaking off flashbacks, Lee resolves to dive into an unforgettable summer with poolside Bellinis, daily tennis matches, luncheons with her Manhattan circle, and her beloved camera in tow. But when tragedy strikes on the hotel’s opening weekend, the cracks in Lee’s picture-perfect future slowly begin to reveal themselves, and Lee must look deep within herself to determine if the life she’s always wanted will ever truly be enough.
From the regal inns to the farmland, the well-heeled New Yorkers to the Bohemian artists, the East End of Long Island is a hodge-podge of the changing American landscape in the late 1950s—and the perfect place for Lee to discover who she really is.
Brian and Margot work flipping houses with their daughters Liz and Evy in the tourist town of Seaside. When Brian’s behavior becomes erratic after developing a brain tumor, the family is thrown into chaos. Liz begins flirting with a guy she knows she shouldn’t. Evy finds herself falling in love with her best friend and posing as a middle-aged woman in a grief support chat room where she becomes a listening ear for her own mother. Meanwhile, Margot faces an impossible decision, one that might lead her to leave the shore behind forever.
Set over the course of one summer, this perfect beach read follows a mother and her two daughters as they grapple with heartbreak, young love, and the weight of family secrets.
Brian and Margot Dunne live year-round in Seaside, just steps away from the bustling boardwalk, with their daughters Liz and Evy. The Dunnes run a real estate company, making their living by quickly turning over rental houses for tourists. But the family’s future becomes even more precarious when Brian develops a brain tumor, transforming into a bizarre, erratic version of himself. Amidst the chaos and new caretaking responsibilities, Liz still seeks out summer adventure and flirting with a guy she should know better than to pursue. Her younger sister Evy works in a candy shop, falls in love with her friend Olivia, and secretly adopts the persona of a middle-aged mom in an online support group, where she discovers her own mother’s most vulnerable confessions. Meanwhile, Margot faces an impossible choice driven by grief, impulse, and the ways that small-town life in Seaside has shaped her. Falling apart is not an option, but she can always pack up and leave the beach behind.
The Shore is a powerful, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel infused with humor about young women finding sisterhood, friendship, and love in a time of crisis. This big-hearted family saga examines the grit and hustle of running a small business in a tourist town, the ways we connect with strangers when our families can’t give us everything we need, and the comfort to be found in embracing the pleasures of youth while coping with unimaginable loss.
By bestselling author Kristin Hannah, SUMMER ISLAND is the story of a mother and daughter reconnecting under unlikely circumstances. Nora left her husband and daughters years ago, becoming a famous talk show host in the interim. Meanwhile, her daughter Ruby has become a comedian who uses her mother as the butt of her jokes. When Nora is in an accident and a tabloid offers to pay Ruby to write a tell-all about her recovery, the two retire to Ruby’s childhood beach house where Ruby learns there is more to Nora than she thought.
In this emotionally intense romance novel, artist Feyi is just beginning to think that she might be ready for love again after the death of her partner five years ago. During one whirlwind summer and a passionate chance encounter, Feyi finds herself on a dream vacation to a tropical island with connections to a curator who could change her art career forever. But while she’s started dating a man who seems like the perfect guy, she can’t stop thinking about the one person she should stay away from: his father.
A New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and “one of our greatest living writers” (Shondaland) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.
Esther and Joseph have always spent the summers with their daughters, Florence and Fanny, in the small apartment above their bakery. But one summer during World War II, the apartment is more crowded than usual. Florence is training to swim the English Channel and has captured the attention of an heir to an anti-Semitic hotel. Fanny is in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy. And now there’s also a mysterious woman Joseph recently helped escape from Germany. When the worst happens, Esther is forced into a series of lies that may destroy them forever.
“The perfect summer read” (USA TODAY) begins with a shocking tragedy that results in three generations of the Adler family grappling with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets over the course of one summer.
*A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice * One of USA TODAY’s “Best Books of 2020” * One of Good Morning America’s “25 Novels You'll Want to Read This Summer” * One of Parade’s “26 Best Books to Read This Summer”
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now, Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
“Readers of Emma Straub and Curtis Sittenfeld will devour this richly drawn debut family saga” (Library Journal) that’s based on a true story and is a breathtaking portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.
THE SUMMER PLACE is a witty, feel-good tale with all the brilliance of a classic Jennifer Weiner beach read. When Ruby announces she’s engaged to her pandemic boyfriend and marrying in three months, her stepmother Sarah is shocked. As Sarah’s whole family arrives at their house in Cape Cod for the wedding, they all have their own troubles to face: recovering from terrible losses, running into old flames, and coming to terms with past mistakes.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.
When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.
But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.
When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.
From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.
After graduate school, Maggie left her old life behind to become a teacher in Boston, where she has new friends and a new relationship blooming. But when her career takes a turn, Maggie finds herself back in her hometown of Mystic, Connecticut. There, she runs into her college boyfriend Cameron, whose life couldn’t be more different from hers. After tragedy occurs for Cameron, Maggie must make a decision about what she wants her life to become and who she wants to be.
Maggie Giffin has an enviable life as an elementary school teacher in a Boston suburb, but when she discovers her job may be on the line, she returns to Mystic, Connecticut, the beach town where she grew up, for her best friend’s wedding. There, she runs into Cameron, a man from her past who makes her see her idyllic life from a new perspective.
In this poignant mother-daughter story, Katy is devastated when her mother, Carol, dies suddenly. Katy goes to the town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast, where Carol spent a summer before meeting Katy’s father, determined to commemorate her mother. There, she is stunned to find Carol herself as a thirty-year-old. As Katy begins to get to know young Carol, she must reconcile the mother she knew with the very different young woman she is now befriending in this magical, unexpected love story.
The New York Times bestselling author of the “heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hard to put down” (Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author) modern classic In Five Years returns with a moving and unforgettable exploration of the powerful bond between mother and daughter set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and a daughter. With her signature “heartbreaking, redemptive, and authentic” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.
THE SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND, a novel from Mary Alice Monroe's beloved Beach House series, is a story about found opportunities in the middle of tremendous change. Linnea’s COVID spring on the Isle of Palms is getting complicated. She is laid off from her job at the aquarium. Her boyfriend, Gordon, is unable to return to the States from England. And her ex, John, is quarantining next door. Falling in love during a pandemic might be easier, and more dangerous, than Linnea thought.
A timely, tender, and compassionate tale of perseverance, love, and the bonds of family in the face of tremendous and sometimes painful upheaval in this latest novel in the New York Times bestselling Beach House series.
The coming of spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, this spring is a season of challenge. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores, and her family’s finances, emotions, and health teeter on the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time?
Love in the time of COVID-19 proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons during this summer than opportunities lost: that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards.
Poignant and moving, The Summer of Lost and Found is “a novel of growing up, saying goodbye to the past, and learning to ask yourself the hard questions, including one of the most vital of all: ‘Who do you really want to be’” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).
From the author of TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE comes another tale of first loves, heartaches, and a tender coming of age. Belly loves summers. They are the times when everything major in her life happens, including when she goes to the beach house in the seaside town where Jeremiah and Conrad live. The boys have been part of her life since before she can remember, but this summer, everything between them is bound to change forever. Make sure to read the book now and then watch the Prime TV adaptation that just came out!
Soon to be a streaming series in Summer 2022!
Belly has an unforgettable summer in this stunning start to the Summer I Turned Pretty series from the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han.
Some summers are just destined to be pretty.
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer—they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Photo credit: iStock / fcscafeine