Oh my goodness! Where do I begin!
Set in 1957 Effie and Henry, a newlywed couple from a small town in Georgia are spending their honeymoon in a seaside town in upstate New Jersey. It’s October, the summer season has finished and the holiday homes of the wealthy are empty and abandoned.
They’re staying in the holiday home of Effie’s uncle George. Both are virgins. Although initially inhibited, they discover the joys of sex and exploring each other’s bodies as any other couple on honeymoon would do
Effie finds the town itself boring, dull and compares it unfavourably to the summer season when it’s busy. They’re supposed to be staying a fortnight but Effie wants to return home. Across the street they notice signs of habitation in one of the houses and there are signs of a party underway. They decide to make the acquaintance of whoever it is that’s hosting the gathering and blag an invite. When the gushing hostess appears, Effie is horrified to discover that it’s Clara, the onetime friend of her older cousin Holly. Effie wasn’t enamoured with Clara telling Henry later that she was a ‘snot nosed harlot’ and remembered how she bullied Effie and teased her about her Southernness.
The honeymoon couple though enjoy the party and find themselves enjoying the company of the guests and Clara is a generous host plying then with copious food and drinks.
Clara is married to a rich husband Richard, an older man who makes an appearance then drifts off to his permanent home, leaving Clara to her own devices. The other inhabitants of the house are Max, Clara’s long standing boyfriend and his half sister Alma.
The party atmosphere is ever present in this house just across the street from Effie and Henry’s honeymoon house and they are drawn back again and again into the hedonistic lifestyle and along with the others, begin to drink heavily throughout the day and night. Effectively, the honeymoon couple were groomed. Flattered by the attention and apparent interest shown in them, they were completely suckered into everything that followed and they went into it all willingly.
The tension builds throughout the first few chapters and I could feel that something cataclysmic was about to happen. When it eventually did happen, the events had an effect that reverberated throughout the remaining lives of some of the characters. I daren’t say more!
There is a lot of sex in the book. I feel as though I should issue fair warning to those of a sensitive, dare I say prudish nature.
The sex, although it is explicit l, never felt gratuitous to me. It was an essential part of the unfolding story and explains a lot about the characters and nature of everyone involved.
A compulsively addictive gripping read!
I can’t believe this is a debut novel!
I can’t wait to read what this author is going to write next!
With thanks to the publishers for my ARC via NetGalley
About The Author
Chip Cheek’s stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Harvard Review, Washington Square, and other journals and anthologies. He has been awarded scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop, and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. He lives in El Segundo, California, with his wife and baby daughter.