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Posts Tagged ‘Summer Breeze’

Reader’s Guide: ISLAND GIRLS by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Thayer_IslandGirls Kick back and relax with a Random House Reader’s Circle classic! Nancy Thayer brings us another entertaining tale from Nantucket. If this is on your summer reading list, then be sure to check out our questions and topics for discussion below! And feel free to connect with Nancy on her Facebook and Twitter.


1. Arden, Meg, and Jenny come from what can be called a “blended” family. Do you know any families like this?

2. Do you think the relationship of sisters in a family whose parents never divorce is easer/less complicated/more loving than that of sisters in blended families?

3. The flap copy of Island Girls says: “. . . the push and pull of family altercations make us whole.” Do you agree?

4. Did you identify with any of the three young women? If so, which one? Why?

5. Did you identify with any of the three older women? If so, how?

6. How would you match these qualities to these mothers:
Nora Justine Cyndi
Romantic Martyred Practical

7. Towards the end, the mothers get together at the Nantucket house and end up being friends, or at least friendly. Is this realistic or idealistic?

8. Was Justine justified in exiling the two girls? Was she right to keep the information about Jenny’s natural father from her? Would you have done the same?

9. One of the themes in the book is that of self-esteem. Meg’s lack of self-esteem prevents her from believing Liam could love her. On page 238, Justine’s lack of self-confidence made her want to get Meg and Arden out of her life. Do you think women let the lack of self-esteem influence crucial life choices more than men do?

10. Do you think the women of the Rory Randall fan club made the right decision about helping Marcia? What would you have done?

11. Arden, Meg, and Jenny all have work they love. Which woman do you think is most likely to have children? Which woman is least likely?

12. If you had three months—or even one week—to vacation on Nantucket, away from work, home, and everyday worries, lying on a beach in the sun or walking on the beach looking at the stars, would it change anything in your life?

Giveaway Opportunity: SUMMER BREEZE by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Thayer_Summer Breeze “Nancy Thayer is the queen of beach books.”—The Star-Ledger

June 21st is the official first day of summer. Why not kick it off with the must have summer read? Nancy Thayer’s SUMMER BREEZE should be in your bag when you pack for your next vacation!

In this captivating novel, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer tells the wonderfully moving story of three women who forge a unique bond one sun-drenched summer on New England’s Dragonfly Lake. Thirty-year-old Morgan O’Keefe put her science career on hold to raise her young son. Though Morgan loves many things about staying home with her child, she feels restless and ready for a change. Struggling artist Natalie Reynolds, fed up with New York City’s hectic pace, moves to the Berkshires for a year to house-sit her aunt’s fabulous home on Dragonfly Lake, where a handsome neighbor becomes her unexpected rescuer. After her mother breaks her leg, Bella Barnaby quits her job in Austin and returns home to help out her large, boisterous family. While an attractive architect has designs on her, Bella harbors long held secret dreams of her own.

Summer on Dragonfly Lake is ripe for romance, temptation, and self-discovery as the paths of these three women unexpectedly intertwine. Summer Breeze illustrates how friends, old and new, can offer comfort, infuriate, or even open one’s eyes to the astonishing possibilities of life.

Connect with Nancy on Facebook and Twitter.

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A Reader’s Guide: SUMMER BREEZE by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Nancy Thayer on The Perfect Man

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark,” a flaw is removed from a woman’s face and she dies, because a perfect person can’t live.

But modern-day women still cherish the dream of the perfect man. In some novels, they ride horses, own castles, give diamonds. In real life, we hope they’re employed, have all their teeth, and behave with kindness to dogs, cats, and offspring.

I write about contemporary lives and people like the ones I know, with problems, flaws, hopes and dreams common to us all. I could invent a perfect man—but first, I’d have to figure out what the heck that means.

In Summer Breeze, I had the pleasure of writing about four good men. Even though he is a bad boy, I include Slade in that category. Can I tell you how many of my readers love Slade? My sister called me to protest because Bella chose Aaron when she could have had sexy Slade. But seriously, would you want to marry Slade? Would you really want to get pregnant, blow up like a turnip, give birth and not have sex for a few weeks, all the while worrying that Slade was flirting, or worse, with the delivery room nurse? (Not that I’m picking on nurses for flirting. My sister is a nurse. I worship nurses.)

No, I think we must rule out Slade as a candidate for the perfect man. But wait, maybe not! Maybe the question is: The perfect man for what?

Naturally—and I mean that in a few ways—we want our perfect man to be sexy. We fall in love with men in real life and in fiction because they’ve got serious sensual power that draws us to them. Of course not every woman feels that for every long-lashed man with bedroom eyes, which is, after all, a good thing.

Slade is sexy, but he’s also a player, a charmer, and a bit of a wheeler-dealer. He’s not completely trustworthy. He makes choices we might not approve of. He’s the man our mothers warned us about, which is no doubt part of his appeal.

There’s something inherently delicious, something inherently alive, something basically good in wanting to be bad, just for a moment, a moment out of time. Perhaps there are times when imperfection seems like just what the doctor ordered. We want to leave behind our routine lives with grumpy husbands, unpaid bills, whining children, critical mothers-in-law, dust balls under the sofa. Isn’t that why we read?

But if in real life we want a man for more than a toe-curling fling, we want someone reliable, generous, capable, and well, good. True, we want that zing when we fall in love with a man. Each time we look at him, we want our hormones to light up like fireworks on the Fourth of July. But eventually, we’d really need a man who would lovingly give our kids a bath and put them to bed when we have to work late. And hang up the wet towels. Am I asking too much? Well, a girl can dream . . . or write fiction.

Summer Breeze characters Aaron, Ben, and Josh are sexy, too. They’re also smart, kind, and dependable. But are they perfect?

Josh kept an important secret from his wife, Morgan. He told Natalie the secret—was he a bad husband? Or was Morgan a less than perfect wife?

Ben’s a scientist obsessed with his work, which makes him seem distant and, as he puts it, “mentally underground.” He does his best to express himself with Natalie. But will that be good enough for a long-term relationship like marriage? Will he talk to his children?

In my humble opinion, Aaron is the best of the lot. Not only is he intelligent, handsome, and patient, but he truly wants Bella to find the work that will make her heart sing, and that was the starting point for this book, as it is the foundation of my life. I want the work I love and a good man. I want my women characters to have all that, too.

Perhaps I treasure the work I love and my good man because I once, long ago, knew a Slade and can still pick up a book or pop in a DVD and see a Slade.
My own daughter—my intelligent, feminist daughter, married to a wonderful and handsome man, with three children—surprised me when she told me she would choose Slade over Aaron. Perhaps it had something to do with the passage where Bella and Slade are looking at Mr. Wheeler’s furniture: “Bella wanted to kiss Slade . . . Among all this antique furniture, she felt caught in a dream: She was the maid, he was the master; she was the peasant selling flowers, he was the soldier. He was the pirate. She was his plunder.”

Does this antiquated image thrive in all our feminine dreams?

Let me ask you: if you were Bella, who would you choose: Aaron or Slade? Or how would you describe your perfect man? Email me at nancy@nancythayer.com to let me know, and I’ll post the results on my website.

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Bella is so attached to her home that she considers breaking up with Aaron so she can stay at Dragonfly Lake. Why do you think she feels this way?

2. Do you identify with Bella’s fear of change? Why does she finally decide to move to San Francisco? Would you have made the same decision?

3. While Bella finds comfort and nostalgia in the gargoyle cabinet and family antiques, Morgan feels trapped and isolated by the design of her luxurious new house. How can the appearance of a house affect the mood and family relationships within it? What is the difference between a house and a home, and does it have anything to do with furniture?

4. On the day that Natalie and Ben decide to stop talking about science and art, Natalie comments that their work is “the most interesting part of us, or the defining part of us.” Do you agree? What would you identify as the defining part of yourself: the roles you play, your interests, your personality traits, or something else entirely?

5. Why does Natalie and Ben’s relationship work despite their different interests?

6. Slade, the bad-boy, wheeler-dealer antiques aficionado, tells Bella that he would give up his playboy lifestyle to be with her. Why do you think he makes that declaration? Do you believe him?

7. How does Slade’s decision to bring Dina Hannoush to the dinner party at the end of the summer reflect on his character?

8. Although we often don’t see it, Josh struggles with pursuing his dream, supporting his family, and spending enough time with his wife and son. How well does he manage the balancing act?

9. Is Josh right to conceal his novel from Morgan? How would you have handled the situation?

10. While Natalie’s exterior is that of a sleek and sophisticated New Yorker, she often believes that her thoughts and feelings are those of a child. Does the summer represent a growing-up process for Natalie? How do her attitudes towards Marlene, her mother, reflect her maturity?

11. Which of the characters do you identify the most with? Why?

12. The lakeside community seems like such a wonderful place to live. What is your ideal community?

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