CAPE MAY by Chip Cheek

BOOK REVIEW

cape may

Description taken from NetGalley

September 1957

Henry and Effie, young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. It’s the end of the season and the town is deserted.
As they tentatively discover each other, they begin to realize that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happily-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short, a decadent and glamorous set suddenly 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.

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 that reverberate through the rest of their lives…

My Thoughts

Ok, first things first……THAT COVER!!  Want it framed and on my wall!  Now!

Second, Chip Cheek.  What a fab name!

Right now I’ve got those two points off my chest onto the review.

This is the tale of two young newlyweds Henry and Effie, as they spend 2 weeks at Effie’s Uncle’s holiday house in Cape May on their honeymoon.  It is 1957 and both, still virgins, enter into the marriage young, innocent and a little naive about married life in general.

A little shy at first but as each day passes they become more comfortable around each other as they start to experience what married life can offer! However with Cape May almost deserted, as it heads into the out of season months, Effie finds the place a little disappointing and becomes bored and to Henry’s disappointment they talk of heading home earlier than planned.

One day they notice lights on at one of the other houses a little way down the street and decide to head over to introduce themselves.  It turns out to be a lady called Clara who Effie remembers, not altogether fondly, from her childhood.  She is staying in the house with her friend/lover Max and his half sister Alma.  They are expecting more people to arrive and invite Henry and Effie over for a party.  After some thought the two of them decide to go and by doing so the pair of young lovers enter into an adult’s world of hedonism, indulgence, and utter abandonment.

“………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 that reverberate through the rest of their lives…”      Make love and drink gin???  By heck did they!!

OH MY GOSH!!  Loved this one loads.  It’s fun, hypnotic and heady in all it’s descriptions.  It felt like reading a Beatriz Williams novel with the dial turned up!!  Yes there is a lot of sex and a lot of gin drunk, yet none of it felt sleazy or cheap in anyway.  Even with all of the character’s frivolity you still sense their insecurities, inexperience and loneliness. A lesson in how easy it may be for people to be taken over and lead astray into a world they are yet prepared for.

The setting is superb.  The slightly uncomfortable changeable weather, the ghost like feel to the out of season holiday town all accentuates and adds to the feeling, particularly for Henry, of being somewhere where things are different.  Where one can be hidden enough to be someone different to who they think they are or perhaps should be.

The ending felt a little different to the rest of the book as if it was added on.  However what this glimpse into the further made me consider is if the experience changed Henry to become the man he later went onto be within his marriage or if maybe he would have been that person all along? It also shows us a rather sorry sight of Effie in her later years. Yet we do only see these later years through the eyes of Henry.  Would the marriage have survived if this had happened in more modern times?

 

I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for my advanced copy. Cape May is published April 30th by W&N Books.  I’m off to buy a physical copy to get this baby on display!!!!

 

3 thoughts on “CAPE MAY by Chip Cheek

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