Title: Summer of Georgie
Author: Kerry Crisley
Publisher: Lazy Sunday Books
Publication date: December 3, 2021
Genre: Women’s Fiction
One Sentence Summary: When 40-something year old Georgie is fired for pushing back at her demanding and questionably ethical boss, she’s given a summer to re-evaluate her life and figure out what will truly make her happy.
Summer of Georgie is an incredible, smart women’s fiction novel that’s firmly grounded in reality, but offers a wonderfully fun story with lots of humor. It touches on being a mother to a child with autism as well as the very real fears a family goes through when one partner loses a job. It also very much celebrates female friendship, female empowerment, and women going for their dreams. At every step, there’s a healthy dose of reality and setbacks, but I loved how Georgie persevered and was determined to find a way through. There are ups and downs and so much hard work, but Georgie always has her family and friends to rally around her. Summer of Georgie is an incredible novel, and I loved every minute of it.
Georgie is a 40-something wife and mother who has survived for the past 18 months working for the demanding Frank Hudson, of Hudson Hotels. It hasn’t been easy, and her boss, Lena, is no better, but, when Frank openly wants her to lie in order to increase sales on his self-published memoir, Georgie has had enough. Now faced with a whole summer to figure out what’s next for her, she starts to train to do a 100 mile bike ride, an event put on by Hudson Hotels that she signed up for before being fired and decided to still complete. And, with the help of her husband and close group of friends, she forms an idea, but it might be in jeopardy before it can even get off the ground.
I nearly passed on this book because, at the time I received the request, I wasn’t really feeling women’s fiction, but I am so glad I didn’t. This book is an absolute gem for my women’s fiction loving heart. It’s literally everything I love about the genre: the focus on a woman figuring out her life, the strong group of supportive females, the surprisingly complex and realistic men. To say I adored Summer of Georgie would be a massive understatement. I could neither read this fast enough nor slow enough. It’s absolutely delightful and exactly the kind of read I needed both in my reading schedule and the stressful period of my life I’m currently in. But, outside of that, this book ticked all the boxes for me and was just such a fun, smart, witty read.
As women’s fiction, Summer of Georgie absolutely dazzles. I loved that it focused on Georgie and that she had a band of women who were there for her every step of the way. The women were really front and center and it was wonderful to see their close ties and the sheer fun they had together even while discussing more serious things. The women really felt truly empowered in this novel. I loved how they rallied together, but, mostly, I loved how it helped Georgie cement what she wanted to do with her life.
Georgie was such a delight. She’s strong and determined, but definitely doesn’t have all the answers. I really enjoyed reading her process and journey and all the ups and downs. I was excited for her when things were going well and frustrated when wenches were thrown in her path. But Georgie always pushed through. I couldn’t help but admire her. But it wasn’t all just about her. She’s a wife and mother, failing and succeeding at turns. Her husband Dan was delightful in that his character felt real. He was supportive of his wife, but also brought in a healthy dose of reality that helped keep this novel firmly standing on the ground. I loved that, instead of a cookie cutter man who just lets the women in the novel run everything, he felt very life-like and reacted the way I’d expect most husbands to react in the same situations. I also loved Georgie’s kids, Max and Shannon. They felt like ordinary kids, especially in just wanting to spend their summer at home instead of camp, and I loved that they had a close relationship. I did wish to have seen them a little more throughout the story, but I liked that Georgie never neglected being a parent. Most of all, I liked that Max is on the autism spectrum, but he wasn’t portrayed as the stereotypical child with autism. It was never in my face, but instead subtly woven in, clearly painting a picture that not every case is the same. I really liked how it was handled, but do wish both kids had a bigger role.
But, as women’s fiction, Summer of Georgie focused more on Georgie and her group of female friends. I loved all of her friends. They were so much fun and added so much levity and love. They relied on each other and were always there for Georgie. They felt like a real group of friends, each of them with their own fun personality. At first, I did get a few of them mixed up, but as Georgie started interacting more with them one-on-one it became easier to pick them apart. Then there are also the women outside of Georgie’s circle. Most of them were incredible and really wonderful additions, especially one that Georgie meets later in the story (I really loved her to death), though there’s also that female rival. I wouldn’t say she was evil, but I definitely loved hating her. Crisley did an amazing job of making me either love or hate each female in this story, and there are so many I wouldn’t mind calling friend.
Then there’s Gilda, and I really must give her her very own paragraph because she was just so much fun! Gilda is Georgie’s inner voice, and was just such an absolute delight to read. She’s snarky and smart, and knows just how to get Georgie going. I loved Georgie’s conversations with her. They were always a lot of fun, and I really liked how their dialogue shifted throughout the novel. I did miss all the snark as the novel went on, but the relationship between the two was absolute gold and I didn’t even miss the Gilda from the beginning of the novel by the time the story wrapped up. Though it was still a lot of fun to go back and enjoy her snark all over again.
Summer of Georgie is all about Georgie taking the time to figure out her life, to re-envision what she wants, after being laid off from a horrible job. I liked that it wasn’t framed as a mid-life crisis, but as an opportunity given. I liked that Georgie really did try and get a new job, and it was refreshing to watch her think and consider and wonder what would really be best for her and her family. I really loved how her idea came to her and just how grounded in reality the whole process was. Instead of having easy fixes for all the problems and hard work she was faced with, she was forced through the hard work. Summer of Georgie really went into all the background work associated with what Georgie decided to try for, and I really appreciated how realistic it was. It showed the ups and downs, the hopes and failures, the letdowns and the joys. Woven in is also the story of Georgie signing up to do a 100 mile bike ride right before she’s fired, and she decides to go through with it so spends the summer training for it. As her body strengthened, so did her resolve. Georgie really put in a ton of work during one summer, and I found it to be really inspiring.
If there’s any quibble I had with this book, it was that it took a bit of time to really get into Georgie’s plans. I had to keep reminding myself Summer of Georgie is Georgie’s story, her summer and what happens. It’s about a middle-aged woman figuring out what she really wants from life and she has to explore all avenues and how she feels about it all. As much as I wanted the story of her having figured it out to be at the forefront, that was just a part of her story. It was a major part, and definitely my favorite part of it, but I felt this novel was about Georgie, not about her plans. During the first half, I couldn’t quite figure out where the story was going and when or where the problem referenced in the book description was going to be coming from, but, when it hit, I absolutely loved how it played out. I adored how this novel ended. It did seem to happen rather quickly, but I really liked how it was balanced and, like everything else, grounded in reality.
Summer of Georgie is a remarkable novel for so many reasons. I loved how every part of it felt not just real but utterly realistic. I could absolutely believe that Georgie’s story, exactly as written, could be playing out somewhere in the world. At times, I even forgot I was reading a fictional story. Needless to say, story and reality became a bit blurred for me in the best possible way! Summer of Georgie is the kind of women’s fiction I absolutely love. It felt real and grounded and was so smart and fun. I was so sad when I finished the book, and even sadder to find out this appears to be Crisley’s only published work so far.
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Thank you to the author, Kerry Crisley, for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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