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The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin
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The Summer Guest

by Justin Cronin

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Justin Cronin (VS; 1963) debuteerde met ‘Mary en O’Neil’ (2001), een psychologische liefdesroman die o.a. werd bekroond met de PEN/Hemingway Award. ‘De zomergast’ is een familieroman die drie generaties omspant gedurende de jaren 1947-2003. Joe Crosby is verminkt geraakt tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog en verruilt de advocatuur in Boston voor een geïsoleerd bestaan als eigenaar van een vakantiekamp in de ongerepte natuur van Maine. Een van de gasten is de steenrijke zakenman Harry Wainwright, die het kamp jaarlijks bezoekt om er te vissen en zijn persoonlijke zorgen te ontvluchten. Harry wordt verliefd op Lucy, de vriendin van Joe Crosby junior. Als dienstweigeraar tijdens de Vietnam-oorlog duikt Joe in Canada onder. Later trouwt hij met Lucy en samen maken zij van het vakantiekamp een succesvol bedrijf. Hun dochter Kate raakt verliefd op Jordan, een gids die door Harry wordt aangewezen als een van zijn erfgenamen. Dit vlot leesbare verhaal beschrijft de pijnlijke kanten van het leven en een liefdesgeheim dat de lezer tot het eind weet te boeien.
  leestgraag | Feb 8, 2011 |
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Epigraph
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I'll look for you in old Honolulu,
San Francisco, Ashtabula,
Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know.
But I'll see you in the sky above,
In the tall grass, in the ones I loves,
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.


- Bob Dylan, 'You're Gonna Make Me
Lonesome When You Go'
Dedication
Voor Leslie en Iris
For Leslie and for Iris
First words
Ten noorden van Boston reden ze langs de zee.
North of Boston they followed the sea.
Quotations
There are regulars, too, people who come up here every year at the times they like best: early summer for the big mayfly hatches, or else the long dry days of August, after the blackflies have gone, the days are as crisp as a butterfly on pins, and the fish have wised up and aren’t especially hungry besides – not the easiest time to catch then, but that’s not why these folks are here, and not why I’m here, either.
Of all the concessions one must make to age, I have discovered this is actually the easiest to face, because its theme is not scarcity but abundance: we have simply loved too many others – spouses, lovers, children, dogs, in all the golden days and hours in our lives – to add one more to the pile. Love there is between us, but it’s an impersonal sort of love, more like a recollection of love than the thing, itself, and what we have to offer one another is the chance to sip together from the cup of memory.
“Here’s the question, Harry. Do you want to go home? Because if you do, there are things that can be done.” He nods me along. “To make you comfortable.” He is asking me where I want to die, of course. It is not a question one longs to hear. And yet I am glad he has asked it.
I loved him as one can only love such a dog; but I also knew what he was. Behind his eyes, twin chestnuts of the most tender soulfulness, lay encased in its suitcase of bone, a brain that knew nothing at all of time or sorrow or even the true joy that sorrow makes possible – only its own desire to please, an aching, needful love that could achieve its fullest contentment with the most meager offering: a stale biscuit, a walk around the block to do his business, a pat on his golden head. His own existence, its nature and finitude, was a mystery to him; he might have thought he was a person, or else I was a dog. The day I took him to the vet to have him put down – he was thirteen, his hips so bad he could barely walk to his bowl – I could think of only this to say: “You have been a good dog, and a great comfort to me, and I thank you.” It was all he wanted to hear. I’d never wished so badly to be the dog he thought I was.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385335822, Paperback)

Set primarily in a rustic fishing camp on the northern tip of Maine, the first 50 pages of Justin Cronin's The Summer Guest read like a lazy fishing expedition--most of the time is simply spent waiting for something to happen. Thankfully, this expansive family saga goes on to explore countless intriguing topics, including love, war, disease, loss, betrayal, and redemption. The book revolves around the story of Harry Wainwright, a wealthy entrepreneur who falls in love with the camp as a young man and returns decades later for one last day of fishing before he succumbs to terminal cancer. With Harry as a centerpiece, Cronin artfully weaves the tales of Joe and Lucy Crosby, the camp's owners; their daughter Kate; and Jordan, the camp's guide; into a complex web of family drama. Using history as both a backdrop and a main character, Cronin guides readers from World War II to Vietnam, with the story reaching its climax on a late summer day in 1994.

The beauty of The Summer Guest lies in Cronin's ability to create meaning in each character's situation. Whether dodging the draft on a fishing boat in rural Canada, serving up clams by the Boston Harbor, saying goodbye to a loved one, or finding new love where you were once afraid to look, Cronin creates deep, sincere characters with whom readers feel a powerful sense of investment. ("Here is grief, I thought, here is grief at last: the full measure and heft of it... I watched myself enter it as if I were stepping into a pool of the calmest, darkest waters... a feeling like happiness, everything drifting away…") This ability to make what at first may seem like a quiet day of fishing seem extraordinary is what sets Cronin apart from other novelists, and what makes a story of the everyday business of living, loving and dying seem somewhat extraordinary. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, celebrated financier Harry Wainwright longs for one more visit to a beloved fishing camp in the remote reaches of Maine, to cast "a flyline over water as still as God's held breath." Camp owner Joe Crosby, a Vietnam draft evader who inherited the property from his war-hero father, is honored to grant the wish of the kindly millionaire, who has been a summer visitor to the camp for more than 30 years. Arriving with his wife, son, and granddaughter in tow, the frail Wainwright makes a dramatic bequest that transforms a tranquil lakeside sojourn into a life-altering event. Narrated in alternating chapters by characters whose lives are inextricably linked to each other--and to the camp--Cronin's novel reveals the rugged beauty of his native New England and the tender terrain of the human heart.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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