A Hun­dred Summers

Beat­riz Williams
  • Review
By – July 22, 2013

Beat­riz Williams’s nov­el, A Hun­dred Sum­mers, is a fas­ci­nat­ing look into the lives of New York­ers dur­ing the 1930s. The sto­ry­line is an intri­cate­ly woven tale of romance, friend­ship, sus­pense, betray­al, and close­ly guard­ed secrets, against a back­drop of how the old WASP New York guard” viewed Jews. The book alter­nates between 1931, when socialite Lily Dane and Nick Green­wald fall in love and get engaged, only to have the rela­tion­ship end because her fam­i­ly will not accept Nick, who is Jew­ish; and 1938, when Lily must deal with con­fronting her for­mer best friend, Budgie, and for­mer fiancé, who are now married.

Williams told JBC that she was influ­enced by the plot of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, with its extreme­ly stereo­typed Jew­ish char­ac­ter. This Waspy woman ends up killing her­self because she would nev­er low­er her­self to mar­ry a Jew, even though her finan­cial prob­lems would have been solved. This got me think­ing what if they mar­ried…’ I became intrigued by what it would be like for Nick, a Jew, to be placed in that par­tic­u­lar soci­ety dur­ing the 1930s.”

Williams, who is not Jew­ish, want­ed to make sure Nick seemed authen­tic and decid­ed to make him the son of a mixed mar­riage, with a non-Jew­ish moth­er. She depict­ed anti-Semi­tism as a sub­tle strain, not some­thing open­ly dis­cussed in that Waspish soci­ety, by hav­ing Nick treat­ed as an out­sider because of his reli­gion. She not­ed, I felt like an out­sider myself, hav­ing come from Seat­tle, mak­ing a stopover in Cal­i­for­nia, for my edu­ca­tion, and end­ing up mar­ry­ing into a fam­i­ly that has been liv­ing in New Eng­land since the Mayflower. I could iden­ti­fy with Nick, since even today I hear the qui­et echoes of anti-Semi­tism at cock­tail parties.”

She hopes her read­ers will feel she did jus­tice to Nick’s sto­ry and wants them to know that in her next book she will explore fur­ther how Nick and his fam­i­ly come to grips with his Jew­ish­ness after he has fought in World War II.

Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and Q and A’s for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press. She has had the plea­sure to inter­view best­selling authors from many dif­fer­ent genres.

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