Summerlong: A Novel
By Peter S Beagle
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism
One rainy February night, while dining at a favorite local haunt, Abe and his girlfriend Joanna meet waitress Lioness Lazos, new in town and without a place of her own. Fascinated and moved by the girl’s plight, Joanna invites Lioness to stay in Abe’s garage. Lioness is about to alter the lives of Abe, Joanna and those around them forever.
This is a tough one for me to swallow. I approached Summerlong with the highest expectations. The combination of the beloved author of The Last Unicorn, a gorgeous cover, and intriguingly brief synopsis set the bar too high. At just over 250 pages, I anticipated an inviting and brief read. I could not have been more wrong. Right now I am sighing heavily as I type this. Heavily and dramatically.
I am going to break away from dividing this review into segments and just give you the bread and butter. What I experienced while reading this title was a continuing anticipation that pushed me to the end of the story. It was compelled to see this one through. The characters were average and falling short of extraordinary, but with small moments of endearing humor. I respected certain aspects of each, especially Abe. His wit was a great addition to the story.
“In bed with two women, classic porno fantasy. Everything in life happens a little too early, or a little too late.”
-Abe in Sumerlong by Peter S Beagle
The book is centered around Lioness who is a mysterious young lady. While she was shrouded in the unknown, I found her of little true interest or value. And eventually at about 50% or so into the book, I realized that the subtle clues as to whom she really was were not actually so subtle. Which made completing the book challenging. It just became an uphill read at this point.
While I appreciated the elements of magical realism, they were presented too lightly. The over all effect was diminished, leaving a lack luster sort of quality. It felt as if even a slight touch more magic and fantasy could have really escalated this story to an entirely new level. I was waiting for exactly that.
The concept was wonderful. The characters while average, were likable and completely credible. The writing was elegant. I really do not want to discredit Peter S Beagle’s writing. It is smooth and almost poetic quality at times. However, each page seemed to hint at a magnificent potential waiting to be released. Sadly for me, it never was. This was an itch I could not scratch.
The end result was a charmingly written story that I wanted to be so much more. A desire that was never fulfilled. It took me longer to read this small book than almost any other title of the year. It was not without flaws, and the pace was too slow for my liking. The end result was a 3 star read. But I still believe there is an audience for Summerlong. If you are seeking a slow-paced and thoughtful read, this may be just what you need.
*I received a copy via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐