Published: April 30, 2019 by Celadon Books
Dates Read: May 6 – May 8, 2019
Genre/Category: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Read For: ARC /NetGalley Review
1950’s Shades of Cape May. That’s it, review over. Go home. No, seriously, I can‘t say that, there is some depth to this book and it’s certainly worth the read.
Book Synopsis from Amazon: A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites. Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn. The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences. Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage.
There were so many mixed reviews about this book before I had even gotten my copy that I was skeptical going into it, thinking it was going to fall flat. Fortunately, I’ve learned to always follow my own path. Henry and Effie, typical southern 1950’s couple, not really sure of each other, not really sure what brought them together, and no clue what it’s like to live together as a married couple. I always enjoy reading about love in this era, it can sometimes be comical when these poor innocents learn about sex, and this book certainly delivered in that department. When Effie and Henry clearly have no idea what to do with each other, alone and by themselves for the first time ever, the first thing they want to do is bail and go home. Fortunately for them, right before leaving, they run into a friend of Effie’s cousin, and their plans change back to remaining in Cape May, even longer than expected.
Once you meet Clara, Max and Alma, the heart of the whole story changes and this is where we start to find out that just because it’s the 1950’s and you are from the south, doesn’t mean you don’t have hidden sexual desires. Who else to bring out those hidden desires than your NYC socialite and playboy? This is where my fifty shades of Cape May comment comes into play, but it’s certainly much tamer than that, and much more tasteful. You do learn a little bit about each of these supplemental characters, so they’re not just strangers, but I don’t think it’s enough to “connect” with them, as some readers feel they need to do.
Every book has its climax (no pun intended) and its ending. A lot happened at this point, and it was exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. This is the only place where I felt things were a little rushed, like the ending was more of just a quick wrap up. I felt like we just spent all this time with Henry and Effie, and then their lives were just summarized in a few pages like a news article or a feature obituary. Although I felt satisfied with the ending, and overall enjoyed the book, parts of me would have liked just a little more detail into the aftermath of all that happened.
There was a personal attachment to this book because I’ve spent a ton of time at the Jersey Shore including many trips to Cape May. Chip Creek does this enchanting town a phenomenal amount of justice, and should be commended just for that alone. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend a visit, even in the off season, because it is just as magnificent as described.
I give this 4 stars. Cape May didn’t blow me away but it is undeniably a memorable novel. You have to consider the depth of the decisions that were made by these characters, because the truth is, in the heat of passion, what decision would you make? It’s easy to have morals and values outside of the bedroom, but when desire comes into play, morals and values seem to very easily get pushed by the wayside. It’s a good read. I would definitely recommend picking it up.
Thank You so much to NetGalley and to Crooked Lane Books for the ARC and the opportunity to review this book. I received this ARC for an unbiased and honest review.