Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sylvie, Eva, Lucien, and Benedict have been close friends since university. Upon graduation in 1997, they embark into a new world of possibilities - jobs, love, heartbreak, and more. Eva has always carried a torch for Lucien, Sylvie's slightly rough older brother, but during a summer holiday after graduation, she almost wonders if there isn't a spark between her and Benedict. Benedict feels that same spark-- in fact he's been pining for his friend for most of their college days. But the moment passes, and Eva goes on to her high-powered job in finance and Benedict to his life in the world of physics. Sylvie, meanwhile, discovers that life isn't so easy now that she's out of university and trying to realize her dreams of becoming an artist. As for Lucien, he's still a playboy, whose career as a club promoter seems successful, but is there more to his success than meets the eye? Over the years, the four friends will drift in and out of each others' lives and experience the ups and downs of life.
I am not usually a fan of these sorts of novels-- those that span over several years or even decades, chronicling the adventures of oft self-centered adults. But Adams' novel surprised me. While in many ways, nothing much happens; in other cases, everything happens: life. Each chapter lets us hear from the characters in a different month and year of their lives. We hear mostly from Eva's point of view, but also Benedict, Lucien, and Sylvie. In this way, we are bystanders to all of their highs and lows of the friends' lives. It doesn't sound exciting, really, but Adams has a lovely way with words and she somehow draws you into their lives. You get to know each, including their strengths, fears, and foibles.
I found the book oddly captivating and basically read it over the span of 24 hours. In some ways, you probably know some of the outcome, but along the way, the characters experience and endure many unexpected life events. This wasn't the type of book I'd like to read all the time, but I found it well-written, intriguing, and a worthy read. 3.5 stars.
I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley (thank you!); it is available for publication on 6/28/16.
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