One of the biggest difficulties in writing a novel with a lot of characters stems from finding exactly how much focus each of them needs. With an ensemble, it’s hard not to let one character pull focus and dominate the action. Yet author Marcia Willett never seems to have this problem. Instead, in Seven Days in Summer, much like in many of her other books, she’s managed multiple points of view that gently push this novel of family, friends, and secrets along.
And secrets they have. As this ragtag group makes their annual trek to the beach, each individual either suspects something about the other or they’re genuinely hiding something. Patriarch and widower of the Beach Hut, Baz, struggles with his past and the possibility of new love. His daughter-in-law, Liv, leaves her husband, Matt, at home and packs their twins off for some fun in the sand. But just why is Matt staying behind? Then there’s Sofia, who stumbles into love while searching for a new start.
Yet, it seems everyone has something going on, but that showcases Willett’s remarkable ability as a writer: she both layers up stories with complications while also stripping them back to their basics. All of these characters are fully realized as they mingle with each other, and they almost feel like a group I’d run into on holiday. Here comes Baz; there goes Liv. As the action jumps between characters, they briefly flit through the story, dispensing their problems while helping the others. Yet it never becomes overwhelming. Rather, there’s a calmness that runs through the pages. It’s holiday—surely everything will work itself out! It’s a remarkable balancing act, but Willett manages.
A hint of drama, a dash of humor, and a collection of fascinating people. Not a bad way to spend seven days in summer at all.
Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.