Thank you for joining me for my stop on the blog tour for Pam Jenoff’s new historical romance, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach! And don’t forget to check out my giveaway — scroll down to enter… and good luck!
Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.
Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.
I have really mixed feelings about this book. First, the positive: I thought the author did a great job conveying the feel of Philadelphia and the Jersey beaches in the 1940s. The street scenes and depictions of life in a summer beach town were very convincing. I really enjoyed seeing Adelia’s unofficial adoption into the Connally clan. This big, noisy Irish family just opened their hearts and home to her, and it was heartwarming to see this lonely, frightened immigrant girl find a place to fit in.
Likewise, the scenes set in wartime London were stirring, especially seeing the devastation of the Blitz and the danger of simply walking down a street, as well as the sad plight of war orphans and the courage of the war correspondents and soldiers setting off on secret missions. The risks and uncertainty add a sense of breathlessness to every interaction, and I liked seeing Addie find a place amidst the chaos and confusion, seeming to discover a calling of her own.
What worked less well for me was the romance, or rather, romances, that are at the heart of the story. To put it bluntly, I just didn’t buy any of Addie’s love interests. I found her actions and decisions confusing, and even by the very end of the story, I wasn’t convinced by her supposed motivations or feelings. Part of the problem may have been the condensed time frame of the story, covering about four years starting from when Addie is sixteen. An awful lot happens in that amount of time, including romantic entanglements that spring up almost instantly and some that seem to dissolve just as quickly.
For me, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach seemed over-plotted, and I didn’t feel that the emotional arcs built, but rather jumped from point A to point B (or even C). The romantic aspects of this book just didn’t gel, but I did enjoy the historical setting and the way the descriptions evoke a real sense of a by-gone era.
Find out more:
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About the Author:
Pam Jenoff is the Quill-nominated internationally bestselling author of The Kommadant’s Girl. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are based on her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.
Connect with Pam:
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Title: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
Author: Pam Jenoff
Publication date: July 28, 2015
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours
For further information, stop by TLC Book Tours to view other blog tour hosts.
I’m excited to be giving away a bookbag and finished copy of the book! Want to win? No fancy footwork required — just leave a comment below answering any one of these questions:
– What’s the best book you’ve read set during wartime?
– What beach holds special memories for you, and why?
– If you could live in a different period in history, what would you choose?
Extra credit: Do you follow Bookshelf Fantasies? Let me know in the comments if you follow me and how (email, Twitter, WordPress, etc), and you get an extra entry in the giveaway!
That’s it! I’ll do a random drawing on September 1st to pick a winner. Thanks for playing along!
(Sorry — US/Canada only this time around)
7 thoughts on “Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff”
i’m a huge fan of Kristina McMorris who writes WW2 fiction (like Pam Jenoff – in fact they did an anthology together) – she has 2 that i gave 5 stars to, one called Letters from Home which was based on love letters written from the war front to those at home; and the other called Bridges of Scarlet Leaves about the Japanese Internment Camps and the non-japanese who ended up there (because they were married to a japanese individual)
Eye of the Needle and Jackdaws, two of Ken Follett’s WW@ novels, immediately come to mind.
I usually enjoy the historical settings more than the romance so I might enjoy this one.
I’d like to live in the future, but that’s not exactly history, so I’ll go with The Roaring Twenties. If I didn’t have to stay there, I’d visit ancient Rome. But I’m not “living” there!
I liked 22 Britannia Road pretty well.
If I could live in another time I would have to go with the 50’s. Things are advanced enough to not have to live uncomfortably, and still set back far enough that family values mean something.
The beach that holds the best memories for me is Cape May. I spent some of the best family time there as a young person.
Thanks for the review and the proper introduction to this book.
Pingback: Pam Jenoff, author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, on tour August 2015 | TLC Book Tours
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book! The premise sounds interesting but that’s rather disappointing about the romance angle. I will keep a lookout for it though 🙂
Best book set in wartime…Yikes, I think I have quie a few favourites (seeing as I seem to read a lot of histfic set in WW2 :3): All the Light We Cannot See, The Invisible Bridge, The Book Thief, Atonement, City of Thieves, etc, etc.