The Sum­mer Demands

  • From the Publisher
January 1, 2013

On the verge of her for­ti­eth birth­day and shak­en by a recent mis­car­riage, Emi­ly inher­its an aban­doned sum­mer camp in Mass­a­chu­setts. She and her hus­band move onto the prop­er­ty and make grand plans to revi­tal­ize the land. But they soon dis­cov­er that their inher­i­tance includes an unex­pect­ed guest. On a walk through the old camp­grounds she once fre­quent­ed as a girl, Emi­ly finds, liv­ing unde­tect­ed in one of the cab­ins, a mag­net­ic twen­ty-two-year-old named Stella.

As the two women begin spend­ing time together―talking and drink­ing, swim­ming in the lake, watch­ing seduc­tive French films through long afternoons―Emily finds her­self play­ing at per­form­ing var­i­ous roles relative
to Stel­la: friend, moth­er, lover. Each encounter they share promis­es to bring Emi­ly a lit­tle clos­er to an under­stand­ing of her own iden­ti­ty, but it also puts her mar­riage and future at risk. How much does she real­ly know about Stel­la? Why is Stel­la here, and what does she want, and what might she take with her, if and when she leaves?

Tak­ing place over a sin­gle sum­mer in a land­scape that refus­es to be tamed, The Sum­mer Demands is a beau­ti­ful, qui­et­ly star­tling explo­ration of the sting of seduc­tion, of unspo­ken female rage, and of how desire and ambi­tion shift over time. It advances Deb­o­rah Shapiro’s place as one of America’s most cap­ti­vat­ing writers―a nov­el­ist who adroit­ly con­veys women’s com­pli­cat­ed inti­ma­cy” (The New York Times Book Review).

Discussion Questions