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The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam…
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The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (2015)

by Pam Jenoff

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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.

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. ( )
  nbmars | Oct 23, 2015 |
I really liked this one — a lot! — and yet it somehow left me disappointed. I can’t even say why I am disappointed, but somehow the story left me wanting for…..something.

This is a WWII era story, which is always a draw for me. One specific thing that attracted me to this book was a perceived Italy connection, but in truth, this connection is very minimal. Addie, the main character is indeed from Italy, but she comes over to America at the beginning of the story and there isn’t really much else said about Italy. A much more important part of the story is that she is a Jew during WWII; a dangerous time to be a Jew in Italy or any other part of Europe!

Addie is sent to the safety of America to live with her Aunt and Uncle, whom she has never met. There she meets and becomes part of an Irish-Catholic family and falls in love with the oldest son. When tragedy strikes the family, she runs off to Washington DC. While there she again runs into Charile, the oldest son, and then flees to London. I think one of my issues with the story was timing. Everything moved entirely too quickly. Though it felt like this took place over a span of years….at least a decade or two….the entire story took place in only 3-4 years! That seemed much too short a period to have moved past an event that was so life-changing!

Another issue I had was that I really didn’t like Addie very much. At the beginning of the book she seemed to be an independent, resourceful young woman. One example is that when her aunt and uncle failed to show up to claim her at the port where her ship docked, she managed to talk her way into the country anyway. But she quickly regressed to a girl lacking in confidence who lets the men in her life dictate how she should proceed with her life. I’m not sure, even at the end of the story, that she had gotten past that. And she made bad decision after bad decision always, in my opinion, choosing the wrong man and failing to recognize the signs that a man was interested. She also, while professing to be grateful to her aunt for taking her in, didn’t really demonstrate that she was grateful. More than once she chose to ‘follow a man’ when her aunt could have used her support and presence. Addie was really a pretty self-absorbed girl.

That said, I really did enjoy the story. Though I didn’t like Addie, or even Charlie, there were several characters I did like. If you enjoy WWII era stories, pick this one up!

This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes. ( )
  Time2Read2 | Sep 18, 2015 |
The newest but not my favorite of Pam Jenoff's books. This book feels like it was written for young teen. Not a lot of meat to it. Would recommend all of her other books over this one. Looking forward to the next book. ( )
  booklovers2 | Aug 16, 2015 |
Adelia Monteforte was put on a boat alone to America in 1941 as WWII was underway. Her mother forced her into leaving Italy and living with her aunt and uncle that she had never met.

Adelia was grateful for her aunt and uncle's love, but ​she ​felt out of place with them and with her accent. When she met the Connallys, things changed. There were children her own age, children to play with​, a family she felt very comfortable with, and their son she fell in love with.

Her aunt and uncle seemed distant but very kind to Adelia. Mrs. Connally was more of a mother to Adelia than her aunt, but I think Adelia made that happen as she chose to be closer to a stranger than her own relatives. She did upset me how she was closer to the family that lived next door at the beach than her blood relatives.

We follow ​Adelia who is a very strong-willed character and who makes decisions on her own even though she is quite young. I was surprised at her quick, poorly thought-out decisions. Some were decisions I definitely would not have made.​

Adelia had become unsettled in her town after a while and also with the Connallys and left for Washington, D.C. to escape Charlie Connally. She then moved on to London when Washington, D.C. wasn't far enough away for her.

London wasn't what she expected, but Adelia was able to make new friends and continue to work at the same newspaper she worked for in the USA. Adelia never thought London would be a​s​ war torn as it was​, but no matter what the circumstances or how far she went, she never could get Charlie out of her mind.

THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH is filled with loss, growing up, learning about life, and a love story.

THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH had a lesson about the importance of family and the importance of following your heart.

As always, Ms. Jenoff's books are well researched and very well written. You become part of her books and want to be one of the characters simply because of the marvelous way Ms. Jenoff tells a story.

If you haven’t read THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH or any of Ms. Jenoff’s books, what are you waiting for? :)

You won't go wrong with any of her books. ENJOY....I know you will. 5/5 ( )
  SilversReviews | Jul 28, 2015 |
I received a free copy of this e-book through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t know why, but I’m starting to have a thing for World War II fiction, and Pam Jenoff’s books are some of my favorites. I was delighted to find out that this newest Pam Jenoff book is set against the background of the war in the United States. You do get to travel with the characters, but the best parts of the novel were the ones set in the US. The characters were beautifully done, and I found myself wishing that I knew a family like the Connally’s. I really enjoyed having Addie as a strong central character. She may be a bit foolhardy at times, but I could really feel what she was going through.
The ideas of family and redemption are central to this book. There was romance, heartbreak, adventure and danger throughout the book. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for good historical fiction. This could even be a good New Adult pick. Another beautiful work from Pam Jenoff! ( )
1 vote LISandKL | Jul 6, 2015 |
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For my own brother, Jay.
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Prologue - New Jersey August 1944 ---- I sense home before I can see it.
Part One - Washington D.C. November 1943 ----- I did not fight the umbrella which blew inside out as I stepped from the streetcar.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0778317544, Paperback)

Summer 1941 

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:57:08 -0400)

Fleeing fascist Italy for America, young Adelia Montforte falls for Charlie Connally, but when war erupts and tragedy comes with it, she tries to lose herself in wartorn London.

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