Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Summer Invitation - Charlotte Silver

The Summer Invitation - Charlotte Silver
The Summer Invitation by Charlotte Silver
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks Ksenia & Macmillan!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

When Franny and her older sister Valentine are summoned by their Aunt Theodora from foggy San Francisco to sunny New York City for one summer, they are taken to old-world locales like Bemelmans Bar, the Plaza, and the Sherry Netherland by their chaperone, Clover, Aunt Theodora’s protégé. As they discover New York City going lingerie shopping and learning about the simple elegance of a cucumber sandwich, they also begin to unearth secrets and answers about Aunt Theo's glamorous and romantic past, and they have a few romantic adventures of their own. (from Goodreads)

The Summer Invitation tells the story of two sisters who spend a summer in New York City, at the invitation of their well-traveled “aunt” (really, a wonderful family friend). Even with a chaperone (who happens to be wonderful), the summer promises the girls a few months of independence, adventure and perhaps just a touch of romance, too.

If you know me well, you’ll know that one of the reasons that I wanted to read this book is how closely it mirrors my own life. I live in New York City with my sister, and she’s about to experience summer here for the first time ever. I can’t wait to show her how magical and wonderful and warm the city can be – and to be able to have loads of fun, too!

Anyway, that aside, The Summer Invitation is a delightful read. There is one thing I’ll be setting straight before I go on though: the book is narrated mostly about Franny (or Frances, since that’s her real name), with glimpses of Valentine (her sister), Clover (their chaperone) and Theodora (their aunt) through her eyes. I was expecting Valentine and Frances to share the narration, so this did surprise me a little bit.

But, the thing is, I loved Franny. She is a lot like me – quiet and observant, thoughtful and deliberate. She’s a bookworm, and a girl who doesn’t mind being on her own (and generally prefers discovering things that way). She’s a bit of an old soul who is content to dive deeply into a person’s story and linger there for a while. I loved reading about her, because it felt like a reflection of who I am! She experiences a lot over the course of her summer, but ends up becoming wise in the ways of the world and the direction of her own life’s path because of that.

I also had a soft spot for Valentine. Valentine might be older, but her tendency is to jump head first into life. She’s determined to have certain adventures (*coughs* romance *coughs*) in New York, and nothing will stop her from seeing them through. She’s not particularly interested in the past, but lives for the present. Valentine takes each emotion and truly feels it, and has a lot of romantic notions (that “happily ever after” mindset), which is why she reminds me of my own sister.

Clover, their chaperone, is one of those middle-aged ladies that I would aspire to be. She’s got a classic style, coupled with proper etiquette and a few old-fashioned habits. But she’s also adventurous, and even as a single lady, manages to fill her days with activities. Since she is Theodora’s protégé, it stands to reason that Aunt Theo might be precisely this sort of lady, too. Both these women are the kind who inspires young girls to embrace life passionately, with habits that are very womanly and yet still managing to be fiercely able to stand on their own two feet.

The sisters indulge in shopping, museum hopping and sightseeing, attending parties, dinners and other affairs over the summer. While Valentine is determined to find romance and is stubborn about sticking to her modern ways, Franny embraces the classic, the vintage, the old-fashioned because she thinks it’s beautiful. Both sisters are fascinated by the life their Aunt Theo and Clover lead, but for different reasons. It’s interesting to see what each of them goes through, and pretty much, The Summer Invitation reads like a journal, a personal account of what happened over those few months.

The Summer Invitation is a lovely summer adventure, and yet another story that shows how one summer can change everything. It has a dreamy, hazy quality to it, as it combines modern and classic elements to create something special. I really enjoyed it, and I’m certain other readers will too.

3 comments:

  1. The Summer Invitation sounds exactly like an April sort of book. Like, it kind of sounds like this one book I read called Summer at Tiffany, which was also amazing, but the girls in that book were older and it's a memoir.

    Anyways, I am totally adding this to my must read list because I am positive I will love it now!

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  2. This one sounds like a lovely read indeed! I am all for summer adventure books and I think I'd also be able to relate a lot to Franny! Glad to see you enjoyed this one! :D

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  3. This sentence is very appealing to me: "It has a dreamy, hazy quality to it, as it combines modern and classic elements to create something special." I have a copy of this but have yet to pick it up. You definitely made me take notice! I love that you were able to see some of yourself in these characters and story. Lovely review!

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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