Title: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
Author: Pam Jenoff
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Genre: Historical (20th Century), Romance
ARC Received From: NetGalley
Reviewed For: TLC Book Tours
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Adelia Montforte begins the summer of 1941 aboard a crowded ship bound for America, utterly alone yet free of Fascist Italy. Whisked away to the seaside by her well-meaning aunt and uncle, she slowly begins to adapt to her new life. That summer, she basks in the noisy affection of the boisterous Irish-Catholic boys next door, and although she adores all four of the Connally brothers, it’s the eldest, Charlie, she pines for. But all hopes for a future together are throttled by the creep of war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.
Needing to distance herself from grief, Addie flees – first to Washington and then London, where the bombs still scream by night – and finds a passion at a prestigious newspaper. More so, she finds a purpose. A voice. And perhaps even a chance to redeem lost time, lost family – and lost love. But the past, never far behind, nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.
I went into this book expecting a sweeping romance, a love that would grow between a man and a woman despite dire circumstances. What I got was the opposite. Romance is still evident throughout this story, but this story is (more or less) about a young immigrant woman who is searching for her place in this world after the only life she'd know is upended.
I don't read a lot of historical romances from the 1900s. The time period is too close to home for me, and war torn countries aren't exactly my cup of tea when I read. But I learned to really appreciate the chaos of that time in this story because Ms. Jenoff uses it to Adelia's advantage. I got to experience the early 1940s through Adelia, saw war come to America, saw war torn London when she moved there. I watched her experience friendship, first love, true love, acceptance, and forgiveness. I had a front row seat as she discovered her purpose in the middle of madness.
Ms. Jenoff is a new-to-me author. Her writing is smooth and it's obvious she did her research. The world she wrote about it was descriptive enough for me to see it in my head as Adelia did. I can't say this story will be for every reader, but it's definitely a must-try for those who enjoy period fiction with a touch of romance and a healthy dose of self-discovery.
Pam Jenoff is the Quill-nominated internationally bestselling author of The Kommadant’s Girl.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are based on her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.