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The High Season

Review

The High Season

Judy Blundell has written over 100 books in varying genres under several different pseudonyms. After many years of writing, she makes her adult novel debut with THE HIGH SEASON. Here, she takes us to the North Fork of Long Island and chronicles the summer of Ruthie Beamish as her once stable life of museum work and motherhood is turned upside down. Blundell narrates the story of one tumultuous summer on Long Island through the perspectives of three main characters: Ruthie, Doe and Jem. Ruthie and others may not be ready for all the change that the summer will bring, but they will learn to accept how sometimes change is inevitable.

Every Memorial Day signifies “the summer bummer” for Ruthie and her daughter, Jem. It is time for them to give up their picturesque home in Orient for the summer renters. Doing this during the height of the best season of the year may be disappointing, but it allows Ruthie to afford life on the North Fork. However, it turns out that this year’s batch makes a big splash and permanently alters the lives of many locals --- especially Ruthie.

For the summer, Ruthie plans to rent her home to Adeline Clay, who was previously married to her ex-boss, Peter Clay, a world-renowned artist. When the summer season starts, things are looking up for Ruthie. Her job as the director of the Belfry, a small regional museum, is going great with the exception of a new board president, Mindy. She is renting the luxury guesthouse of Carole, a friend and fellow member of the board at the Belfry, with her daughter. It even looks like her ex-husband, Mike, might be changing his mind about their whole divorce. But as the summer takes off and the heat sets in, everything Ruthie loves starts to crumble piece by piece.

"Blundell’s writing feels effortless as her story becomes more complex with each summer day. THE HIGH SEASON is more than just the perfect beach read --- it is a must-read."

Soon Ruthie’s job is on the line. Mindy has been plotting for months with many of the people she once considered friends and family to phase her out of the museum. Losing her job hits her hard. Ruthie loved what she did and where she did it. Leaving the Belfry means leaving Orient to find another museum to work for and uprooting Jem in her senior year of high school. It also means leaving her friends and her home that she has worked for many years to keep.

Ruthie and Mike’s house was always out of their budget, but they made sacrifices to make it work. Ruthie was willing to do anything to keep their house, even if it meant leaving it for a few months out of the year. After quitting and storming out of the Belfry, she goes looking for Mike and finds him at their house with Adeline. Ruthie learns not only that Mike and Adeline are together, but that Adeline wants to buy the house and make it her permanent home. In one day, it feels like Ruthie is losing everything. As low as she might feel, she is not willing to go down without a fight, and in her panic frenzy considers criminal actions to help keep it all together.

Doe works at the Belfry contributing to its social media platform and inadvertently finds herself in the middle of the plot to expel Ruthie from the museum. She works hard to blend in and keep up appearances with the wealth around her, and even uses her high society surroundings to capture photos of celebrities for a profit. As close as she gets to that world, she always knows to keep her distance and anonymity. After crashing a party, Doe is welcomed into the apex of Hampton social life and falls in love with the It Girl of the summer. As hard as she may try, Doe isn’t able to keep her humble life a secret forever when her mother comes to town, and all the lies she has told in an effort to fit in come apart.

Jem is a high school student who hates moving out of her home every summer and having strangers stay in her room. She hates that her best friend moved away and that she hangs out with the popular girls who quickly turn on her. She also really hates Adeline’s stepson, Lucas, but she also really likes him. With all the money and opportunities in the world, Lucas is a spoiled and troubled man. It is Jem’s interest in him that places both her life and Doe’s at risk when an inflatable bouncy house comes loose at the Belfry.

I was expecting THE HIGH SEASON to be a light summer read perfect for the beach. I definitely did not expect to feel the urge to pick up an ax and chop down a tree as Ruthie does in her blind rage from being fired and seeing Mike with another woman. My heart broke for her as each part of her life disintegrated in front of her, from her job to her house to the fear of losing her daughter. Blundell packs this book with twists and turns, leaving you guessing how her characters will piece their lives back together. She delicately details intricate plot lines that weave together the stories of several characters through their pasts, presents and futures.

Blundell’s writing feels effortless as her story becomes more complex with each summer day. THE HIGH SEASON is more than just the perfect beach read --- it is a must-read.

Reviewed by Catherine Rubino on May 25, 2018

The High Season
by Judy Blundell

  • Publication Date: May 22, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 0525508716
  • ISBN-13: 9780525508717