July is a perfect time to relax with a good book. I seldom re-read a book because it leaves less time to enjoy something new, so if I were to pick a few favorites, I’d have to pack my bag of re-runs carefully.
First off the shelf would be one of my all-time favorites, The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home by George Howe Colt. Here’s a nonfiction book to make fiction lovers swoon. Faced with the sale of their family summer home on Cape Cod, Colt and his family return for one last stay, savoring the family history and charming memories, Colt laments the loss of future memories for his children. A finalist for the National Book Award, The Big House actually sent me seeking the actual house on Buzzard’s Bay a couple of years ago.
Susan Minot’s Evening bubbles up not only for the book but for the incredible movie it inspired. During a summer weekend on the coast of Maine, at the wedding of her best friend, Ann Grant fell in love. Forty years later she finds herself in the dim claustrophobia of illness when the memory of that special weekend returns with breathtaking clarity. Evening is a masterpiece of time and memory. Trust me on this.
Another good choice was penned by friend and fellow writer, Katherine Davis, who summers each year in Southern Maine. East Hope is the mid-life tale of a widow’s unplanned pregnancy and her soothing solution: escape to a Maine seacoast town. I was impressed by how Kitty drew the setting into the story.
OK, so I’m a sucker for New England coastal books.
Let me move on to my all-time favorite DVD, A Summer Place, based on the novel by Sloan Wilson. Set in Maine (where else?) this love story was a bit racy for its day. The theme song by Percy Faith is enough to make you pop the DVD into the player to see the movie starring Hollywood greats Dorothy McGuire, Sandra Dee, Richard Egan and Troy Donahue.
A Summer Place may be schmaltzy, but it was my intro to the notion of summering in Maine. Adirondack chairs, pine-covered islands, the sound of distant motor boats and a well-stocked picnic basket. Doesn’t get better than that.