Book Review: The High Season by Judy Blundell

The High Season by Judy Blundell
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Random House (May 22)

If I hadn't read it now, this is just the sort of read I'd be looking to take along when I head off to our beach destination in summer. I enjoy books about communities that are tony vacation or resort havens. My mother in law lives in one year round and used to live in an one adjacent that was likely sleepy some time before I was born but is rapidly building on seemingly every scrap of available grass and dune. It's remarkable to see a place change with the influx of new business and real estate opportunities. As some of The High Season characters point out throughout the book "Everything changes" and this book is to be commended on showing that well with the positives and negatives. I'm always interested in seeing how locales strike the balance of retaining the things that made it attractive to new residents and business without monetizing to the point that all the charm is lost that attracted people in the first place and the actual full time residents are priced out of living there in any season, not just the off.



Here, we meet Ruthie who experiences a summer in which upon realizing that she's become superfluous in her own life contemplates some desperate measures to hold on to it. She actually undertakes one of them and as appalled as I was about her decision, I couldn't stop reading to see how it would play out. I did find some of her naivete annoying especially with regard to what was happening with the coup being staged at The Belfry and the situation between Mike and Adeline. Still, I was pulling for her to wake up and exercise her own agency. Happily, she does eventually and that made for a nice result. I wasn't clear on why or when exactly she'd lost her voice (it couldn't all be related to having worked for Peter Clay) but I was thrilled when she found it again.

As to other characters who support memorably here, there were some stars. Doe, Lark, Jem, Daniel, Carole, Mindy, Joe and the vintage Patek Phillipe (who did so much without saying a word). Not all were likable but they were pivotal in their way. Doe, the young social media content curator, has a very well done parallel story going on that bumps up against, transverses and dovetail's Ruthie's throughout. She's the ruthless cynic to Ruthie's wide eyed wonder. Lark was one of my favorites and I was pleased with her resolution. Jem, Ruthie's daughter had a story that while not surprising in trajectory or resolution, was well done. For every email she wrote and didn't send to her BFF who'd moved away, I was chanting for her to reconnect. Daniel, the moneyed titan and father of Lark, proved to be a most effective prime mover. The sort that you never saw making the moves in the first place. He wins for patience and capitalizing on the tools who presented themselves to him (in this case, people who were so blinded by their own craven agenda they didn't realize that they were pawns in an ever bigger one). His thread, in particular, was interesting.

There were also some characters who didn't make much of an impression but the two most important and disappointing were Mike and Adeline. Mike's characterisation seemed very thin and truly the most memorable thing I'll take away about him is the moment Ruthie is adamant that he can't possibly be at ease around Adeline's crowd. This didn't make sense to me because it had already been established that Mike came from a moneyed family that had simply run out of it but still retained all the attitudes and characteristics. Of course he was comfortable around Adeline and her cohort, they're his tribe! Ruthie never was and no matter her unease, Mike was right at home. Adeline was a bit better drawn but not much. Even with the background given, I never got much of a sense of her. I wish I had on both because so much in this book is quite well done, but perhaps there wasn't time.

I'd recommend this and I look forward to the next by Blundell (this was my first by her). Definitely take this one vacation.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.



Summary: No matter what the world throws her way, at least Ruthie Beamish has the house. Lovingly renovated, located by the sea in a quiet village two ferry rides from the glitzier Hamptons, the house is Ruthie's nest egg--the retirement account shared with her ex-husband, Mike, and the college fund for their teenage daughter, Jem. The catch? To afford the house, Ruthie must let it go during the best part of the year.


It's Memorial Day weekend and Ruthie has packed up their belongings for what Jem calls "the summer bummer" the family's annual exodus to make way for renters. This year, the Hamptons set has arrived. Adeline Clay is elegant, connected, and accompanied by a "gorgeous satellite" stepson.

The widow of a blue-chip artist, in a world defined by luxury and ease, Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie's life. Is Adeline just being her fabulous self, or is she out to take what she wants?

When an eccentric billionaire, his wayward daughter, a coterie of social climbers, and Ruthie's old flame are thrown into the mix, the entire town finds itself on the verge of tumultuous change. But as Ruthie loses her grasp on her job, her home, and her family, she discovers a new talent for pushing back. By the end of one unhinged, unforgettable summer, nothing will be the same--least of all Ruthie.

In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons--a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings.


It's Memorial Day weekend and Ruthie has packed up their belongings for what Jem calls "the summer bummer" the family's annual exodus to make way for renters. This year, the Hamptons set has arrived. Adeline Clay is elegant, connected, and accompanied by a "gorgeous satellite" stepson.
The widow of a blue-chip artist, in a world defined by luxury and ease, Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie's life. Is Adeline just being her fabulous self, or is she out to take what she wants?
When an eccentric billionaire, his wayward daughter, a coterie of social climbers, and Ruthie's old flame are thrown into the mix, the entire town finds itself on the verge of tumultuous change. But as Ruthie loses her grasp on her job, her home, and her family, she discovers a new talent for pushing back. By the end of one unhinged, unforgettable summer, nothing will be the same--least of all Ruthie.
In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons--a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings.



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