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Sex! War! Coming Of Age! It’s Summer Readin’…

Five books to enjoy this summer

Wanna know what to read as temps skyrocket and bibliomania is in the offing? Five titles below kick off our series of local recommendations by Fairfield County independent bookshops. The first two installments come from Darien’s Barrett Bookstore, owned by the well-known local stalwart, Sheila Daley. Go and visit!

All The Light We Cannot See

According to Daley, this WWII-era novel by Anthony Doerr “just works on all the right levels.” Twin stories of a German boy with a precocious talent for radio, and a blind girl in Paris, intertwine after the Nazis invade France “as the war progresses…and the novel is just beautifully written: the prose is gorgeous.” One reason the book is on the NY Times bestseller lists, she says, is that independent shops have been pushing it. Just goes to show…

American Romantic

With a “Graham Greene feel,” as Barrett bookseller Robin Harvey puts it, this Ward Just novel about a foreign service officer posted in Indochina outlines the story of a “first love that he never forgets.” It begins just before the Vietnam War, and moves beyond, past the liaison, into the man’s marriage in New England, which becomes complicated by the feelings he supposedly left behind.

The Vacationers

Like sex, secrets, family squabbles, a gorgeous foreign setting, and the kinds of trips that seem to expose the implicit sinkholes under the smooth surface of the sands in life’s beachy retreats? Good! Read this novel, by Emma Straub. Harvey says it is “Atmospheric…about a family vacationing in Mallorca, and all the members have secrets—it reads like good summer story.” Yum.

The Headmaster’s Wife

Thomas Christopher Greene’s “fascinating page-turner,” Harvey says, “is New England-y; one of those books that makes you think you know where you’re going, but IT TAKES A TURN.” So: the lowdown is that a teacher at a Vermont school is found running in Central Park—naked. He confesses to murdering one of his students. Ya got me; I’m reading.


What would you do to fit into an elite, pampered lifestyle, and its attendant class of people, one to which you do not belong? Well, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet deals with this topic deftly, Harvey says. It’s “about a scholarship student and her wealthy roommate, who invites her to come stay with her wealthy family during the summer.” Perfect start for uncomfortable coming-of-age conundrums, I’d say. I love books that expose the underbelly of privilege, because privilege, indeed, ALWAYS has an underbelly, just as all perfect-seeming things seemingly do.

For more information or recommendations, visit barrettbookstore.com or call (203) 655-2712.

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