Review of “The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach” by Pam Jenoff

The story begins with sixteen-year-old Italian Jewish immigrant Adelia (“Addie”) Montforte arriving in America in 1941, having been sent by her parents to take refuge from the Germans with her aunt and uncle in Philadelphia.

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Addie is despondent, but perks up when the three of them go to the New Jersey seaside for the summer and she meets the Connally family next door. Irish-Catholic and full of life and fun, the parents and their four boys take Addie into their lives immediately. She loves them all, but in particular is attracted to Charlie, the oldest of the boys; he is her first crush. But when America enters WWII, Charlie is gung-ho to sign up and go abroad.

Before he takes off, however, tragedy strikes the Connally family, and they pack up and leave for parts unknown without a word to Addie. Addie herself flees – first to Washington, and then, after an unexpected encounter with her past, overseas to work in the London office of “The Washington Post.” There, she steps into roles unusual for women, but suited to the woman of talent and moxie she has become. But she can’t forget Charlie, nor the calamity that tore them all apart.

In the end though, there is a realization by the characters that the old world didn’t exist anymore, with all of the bittersweet implications that epiphany produced. Still, there is an opportunity for redemption, and hope for a better future.

Discussion: Jenoff is a good writer who pulls you in right from the beginning, adding historical elements that impart interest and significance to the story. I didn’t like Addie a lot, however; I thought many of her actions were selfish, especially regarding her behavior toward her aunt and uncle. Even in the end, when she was supposed to be “wiser” about what mattered, she sort of blew off her aunt, who was in a time of great need. Nevertheless, it’s a good story, and one I continued to think about after I had read it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Harlequin Mira, an imprint of Harlequin, 2015

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About rhapsodyinbooks

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3 Responses to Review of “The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach” by Pam Jenoff

  1. Beth F says:

    This has been on my list … sounds like it could be a good weekend read, despite not loving Addie.

  2. Heather says:

    Jenoff is one of those “authors I’ve always meant to read” authors. I need to get to one of her novels eventually but it just never happens. Which of her books would you recommend I start with?

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