A Shower of Summer Days by May Sarton

Book Review : A Shower of Summer Days

By May Sarton

  • Publication Date: 2014-12-16
  • Genre: Literary

Book Review

National Book Award Finalist: A couple returns to an Irish village after years away in this novel by the New York Times–bestselling author of As We Are Now.

The Irish estate home Dene’s Court has been empty for years—its icy visage, shuttered windows, and overgrown tennis court are a burden for its caretakers and a curiosity for the nearby townspeople. And so the announcement that Violet Dene Gordon and her husband, Charles, are on their way back from British Burma to settle in the long-dormant estate sends a ripple of excitement through the sleepy village.
 
For Violet, Dene’s Court stands as a monument to her childhood, but lingering doubts remain about whether she and Charles will be happy there. Adding complexity to the arrangement is the arrival of Violet’s American niece, a college student named Sally who has been sent by her mother in an effort to put an ocean between the impetuous young woman and the object of her affection, an actor.
 
Anxiety, tempers, and long-buried emotions flare as the estate’s new residents search for a sense of belonging and peace between its hallowed and serene walls.

“May Sarton ranks with the very best of our distinguished novelists. A Shower of Summer Days establishes once and for all her unmistakable authority.” —The New York Times

“It is in the final pages that Miss Sarton brings her theme into full orchestration. Here it is that the subterranean drama rises to the surface; here it is that the continually stirring portrait of Violet receives the final strokes that raise it to magnificence.” —New York Herald Tribune Book Review
 
“May Sarton’s best work, whatever its form, will endure well beyond the influence of particular reviews or current tastes. For in it she is an example: a seeker after truth with a kind of awesome energy for renewal, an ardent explorer of life’s important questions.” —The New York Times Book Review

May Sarton (1912–1995) was born on May 3 in Wondelgem, Belgium, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938. Her novels A Shower of Summer Days, The Birth of a Grandfather, and Faithful Are the Wounds, as well as her poetry collection In Time Like Air, all received nominations for the National Book Award.

An accomplished memoirist, Sarton came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her memoir Journal of a Solitude (1973) was an account of her experiences as a female artist. Sarton spent her later years in York, Maine, living and writing by the sea. In her memoir Endgame: A Journal of the Seventy-Ninth Year (1992), she shares her own personal thoughts on getting older. Her final poetry collection, Coming into Eighty, was published in 1994. Sarton died on July 16, 1995, in York, Maine.

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