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Cape May: A Novel by Chip Cheek
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Cape May: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Chip Cheek (Author)

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648289,996 (3.26)None
"Henry and Effie's honeymoon is meant to be their introduction to the pleasures of the body, but in the company of Clara and her promiscuous cohort they lose all track of boundaries. A dozy, luxurious sense of enchantment comes over the story, until the rude awakening at its finale.... Cape May does something better than critique or satirize: It seduces."- The Wall Street Journal "What a treat. Glamorous and nostalgic and very sexy, Cape May is a novel about marriage, lust, shabby seaside towns and lots of gin. Brilliantly unsettling ́one of those books that stays with you." - Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the WaterA mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites.Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is deserted. Feeling shy of each other and isolated, they decide to cut the trip short. But before they leave, they meet a glamorous set of people who sweep them up into their drama. Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara's lover; and Alma, Max's aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn. The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences.Erotic and moving, this is a novel about marriage, love and sexuality, and the lifelong repercussions that meeting a group of debauched cosmopolitans has on a new marriage.… (more)
Member:crazysushi
Title:Cape May: A Novel
Authors:Chip Cheek (Author)
Info:Celadon Books (2019), 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:read in 2019

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Cape May: A Novel by Chip Cheek

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By ridiculous4

I could not decide if I actually wanted to read Cape May or not. Of course, in the end, I did decide to read this book. Now, I am honestly regretting that decision. It's well written and solid. It's the content of the story that bothered me the most. These young and wide eyed newlyweds are in a place in Cape Cod where they probably shouldn't have gone. They become entangled with other couples, people, etc. They see this decadent life full of people with no inhibitions about anything, and this couple begins to transform to match their surroundings. They don't really know each other as well as they thought, so it's eye opening. It's a lot of sex scenes that I could have done without. I was uncomfortable reading this. ( )
  jamielynnb | Jul 11, 2019 |
could not decide if I actually wanted to read Cape May or not. Of course, in the end, I did decide to read this book. Now, I am honestly regretting that decision. It's well written and solid. It's the content of the story that bothered me the most. These young and wide eyed newlyweds are in a place in Cape Cod where they probably shouldn't have gone. They become entangled with other couples, people, etc. They see this decadent life full of people with no inhibitions about anything, and this couple begins to transform to match their surroundings. They don't really know each other as well as they thought, so it's eye opening. It's a lot of sex scenes that I could have done without. I was uncomfortable reading this. ( )
  JypsyLynn | Jun 7, 2019 |
Capturing the essence of youthful unrest and dissatisfaction while maintaining a literary tone are not easy things to master in fiction, F. Scott Fitzgerald did it several times, capturing the highs and lows while Richard Yates paints a sorrowful portrait of suburban boredom. But Chip Cheek has successfully taken the reader out of 2019 to recreate America in the 1950s, the innocence and the worldly in Cape May. It’s a very polished debut that has me wanting more of it all – the debauchery, the emotional rollercoaster and the shattering of innocence.

Henry and Effie are newlyweds who have left their small town of Georgia to honeymoon in New Jersey in Effie’s uncle’s house. Effie has fond memories of childhood summers in Cape May, but autumn Cape May as a grown up is not what she had in her head. Her uncle has left mean instructions (right down to the amount of alcohol the couple can drink without replacing the bottle) and most things are shut. It’s an awkward start to a honeymoon but things seem to plod along relatively nicely in the bedroom and outside. It’s just so…pedestrian and unexciting for the pair that they are set on leaving early to return home. A light down the street has the young couple dressing up to formally meet their neighbours. But it turns out to be a childhood frenemy of Effie’s – Clara. Effie doesn’t really have fond memories of Clara, but she and Henry agree to stay for dinner. And a party. And more and more until they are involved in the daily lives of Clara, her lover Max and his recently discovered sister, Alma. All three are way more worldly than the innocent sweethearts and introduce them to a world of drinking, carefree fantasies and sex. It can only end badly.

Chip Cheek’s description of Henry and Effie’s descent into a darker world of sex is more explicit than anything Yates or Fitzgerald ever wrote, but overall the novel still fits in with those authors. An update for the times perhaps. The destruction of innocence is sweet at first, but Henry is particular is taken further into the world of adultery. Yet when Effie does similar, he reacts like a typical man of the times, treating Effie like his property. The ending, which describes the rest of the couple’s lives, does feel a bit superfluous but in retrospect demonstrates Effie’s defiance of this claim. (I’m also a sucker for knowing everything about characters in a good story, so I’m not complaining). The story is richly detailed and captures Henry’s warring emotions, thoughts and bargaining to try to talk himself of what he believes are his misdeeds.

Overall, Cape May is a complex entwining of relationships in the vein of literary fiction, yet it is also an absolute page-turner. Add Chip Cheek to your list of must-read authors.

Thank you to Hachette for the copy of this book. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | May 26, 2019 |
No stars. UGH. Ridiculous bodily function obsessions and nasty sexist sex interludes, making all women out to be hungry maneaters. Terrible waste of time.
  froxgirl | May 21, 2019 |
1950s: Henry and Effie are newlyweds honeymooning during the off-season in Cape May, New Jersey, in Effie’s uncle’s beach house. They don’t really know each other very well, they’re sexually inexperienced, and are having some difficulty with the awkwardness of being around each other all day. Bored and restless, they decide to leave early and go home.

BUT! They see lights on at a nearby house . . . neighbors! They get excited, thinking maybe meeting some new people will liven things up. They have no idea just how much.

Their new neighbors, Clara and Max, are not completely unfamiliar to Effie. Clara was a friend of the family while she was growing up during the summers at Cape May, and Clara often teased the younger Effie to the point of bullying. Effie is reluctant to spend any time with her, but they can’t escape Clara’s constant invitations to parties, and soon they’re captivated by Clara’s carefree bohemian lifestyle with her lover, Max.

Clara throws wild parties that quickly get out of hand, replete with gin and casual sex. She brings in cosmopolitan friends from New York, and the bumpkin Georgia newlyweds are swept away with the hedonism. This decadence, however fun at first, quickly devolves into dangerous flirtations and destruction.

The drunken sex parties got somewhat repetitive, and the story takes a while to get going, but nevertheless, it maintained my interest. Just about every character is loathsome, but even though these people are self-centered and repugnant, I couldn’t help but keep reading to see what they would do. The focus on Henry’s experience offered some specific insights, but the lack of attention to other characters, specifically Effie, were detrimental to rounding out the story’s perspective. There is a strange leap forward in time in a rushed epilogue, but at least it serves to answer the curiosity of “So, what happened to them?”

It’s a fun book with a psychological bent of what superficially milquetoast people are capable of when shown a wilder side of life.

Many thanks to Celadon Books, Netgalley, and BookishFirst for the advance copy in exchange for my review. ( )
  ErickaS | Apr 16, 2019 |
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