ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Peter Soyer Beagle (born April 20, 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. He is also a talented guitarist and folk singer. He wrote his first novel, A Fine and Private Place , when he was only 19 years old. Today he is best known as the author of The Last Unicorn, which routinely polls as one of the top ten fantasy novels of all time, and at least two of his other books (A Fine and Private Place and I See By My Outfit) are considered modern classics.
Retired history professor Abe Aronson is a cranky, solitary man living out his autumn years on Gardner Island, a ferry ride away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Seattle. One rainy February night, while dining at a favourite local haunt, Abe and his girlfriend Joanna meet an engaging enigmatic waitress, new in town and without a place of her own. Fascinated and moved by the girl’s plight, Joanna invites her to stay in Abe’s garage. It seems everyone falls for the charming and invigorating the waitress, but she is much more than she appears, and an ancient covenant made a millennium ago threatens to disrupt the spring and alter the lives of Abe, Joanna, and all those around them forever…
The beginning of Autumn is a very special time and I always try to make it as magical as possible, therefore I was really happy when I was given the chance to read Beagle’s latest novel, because he is an author that has had a special place in my heart for many years now. He’s style of writing takes you to other worlds like no other and turns reading a story into the greatest adventure of your life.
Where I come from we have those amazing transition days from summer to fall, where the sun is still warm, but the rain and the wind remind you that October is close, you begin to smell pumpkin and apple pies from every corner, you see people beginning to wrap themselves in warm scarfs and sweaters, still bearing the sun-kissed skin on their faces. It is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, for me at least. Like one of those days, Peter S. Beagle’s upcoming novel, Summerlong, is charmingly quiet yet deeply thoughtful, with an ambience that will keep readers spellbound to the final page. It is the kind of read you will engage in from beneath you warm blanket while the rain is sweetly whispering its words on the window and you are reminiscing amazing, wild memories of summer. You are going to taste that book, smell it and feel its warmth from the cover to the very last word in it.
Summerlong relies upon Beagle’s literary mastery for its success. The setting on a small island outside of Seattle becomes an extra protagonist to the story as our characters conduct their day-to-day lives. From the fish markets of Seattle to the quiet peace of island life, Beagle paints a vivid picture of the community in which these characters live, and sets the foundation for the changes he will visit upon them. It’s a strange novel, blending the monotony of day-to-day living with the world of myths and legends, and even in the spots where it is uplifting, you can’t help but catch a hint of sadness and melancholy, as the choices that allow the characters to find new joys or ease their pain bring entirely new problems.
Beagle has made some extraordinary choices: for example the way Abe and Joanna communicate, although their dialogues are truthful and feel real, the are peppered with archaic expressions that don’t really match the modern era in which the novel is set. Although, I admit that I have similar modes of communication with my literary comrades, but it happens on occasion and is never the standard, while in Summerlong it has become the recognised go-to for transferring information. It does give a whimsical touch to the story, but I find it bizarre for some reason.
If I have to strip it to basics Summerlong is a rather deep exploration of both points of view in the grand myth of Persephone and Hades, too, so it’s actually rather rich in contemplation. It is very introspective and I often found myself distracted by my own thought, because I found pieces of my own doubts and struggles connected with the characters’ battles. It was an eye-opening read. I did surface from in as a melancholic mermaid from an ocean of thoughts and feelings, but I found a lot of hope and content, just like those last rays of sun that sneak in-between the falling autumn leaves.
I loved it. I lived it.
And I think you should too.