Book Report: Bittersweet

Summertime means (hopefully) extra time to take a good book with you – whether you’re hanging out by the pool, curling up at the cabin on a rainy day, or boarding a plane for an exciting destination, it’s essential to have a good read (or two) on you at all times. With that in mind, I’ve got plenty of summertime reading recommendations to keep you entertained and hooked, well after the sun goes down – starting with today’s pick – Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.

Bittersweet Miranda Beverly Whittemore

What’s The Buzz?:Author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore was vaulted onto Entertainment Weekly’s list of rising stars to watch for in 2014. The reason? This buzzy novel that hit the shelves in mid-May.

What’s The Plot?:Mabel Dagmar is perhaps best described as ‘below average’. She is less than beautiful, the daughter of a drycleaning duo, and attending a prestigious East Coast college on scholarship. It’s no wonder then that her impossibly glamorous socialite roommate Ginevra (Ev) Winslow is less than interested in her. When a tragedy in Ev’s life brings the girls together, Mabel is eventually invited to spend the summer with her at Winloch, the extended Winslow family’s sprawling cottage country, which includes Ev’s own cabin, the titular Bittersweet. Once there, Mabel finds herself both fascinated and repelled by this over-privileged clan, drafting comical musings to her mom about how ridiculous their standard of living is, and how unaware they are of what the ‘real world’ is like for people like Mabel. Beyond her surface experiences and interactions with the Winslow clan, however, Mabel begins to unearth some dark, horrifying secrets – in part out of a selfish desire to find a way in, but as she gets more entangled in the family’s deep, dark secrets, will she actually want to stay there?

Beach Read Potential?: I mean, ideally, all of these books I’ve picked for the summer Book Reports series will fall into the realm of ‘Beach Reads’. How one describes a beach read is probably different between person-to-person, but I ultimately just like a good, fun read that wraps you up in a great escape, one that perhaps even eclipses your vacation or staycation. Bittersweet in that sense delivers. I know a lot of books promise to unveil some dastardly family secrets, but the volume and impact of the Winslow’s dirty laundry is pretty darn extreme – and that’s what makes it so fun! I had a hard time putting this one down and given the summery cottage setting, felt like it was the perfect soapy read to toss into a beach bag before relaxing under the sun.

Give Me Some Comps – What Else Is Similar To This Book?: Bittersweet reminded me a lot of Grace Metalious’ classic novel Peyton Place. It has that same undercurrent of uneasiness and secrets, only instead of a single town, you’re honing in on an absurdly wealthy family that’s willing to do pretty much anything to maintain their status. The monied summer cabin setting was reminiscent of Curtis Sittenfeld’s lovely American Wife, which made up a fair chunk of that novel. It’s also got a similar pseudo-soapy vibe to TV shows like RevengeScandal and Desperate Housewives, so if you love any of those, you’ll probably enjoy digging into this one.

Who Should Read This Book?:I love the idea of sharing this book with your girlfriends – it’s one of the few books I’ve read lately and thought about buying copies of for my friends simply so we could dish on the crazy happenings throughout. It has this special feeling of timelessness, in part because Winloch is technology-free apart from one working phone in the communal dining hall, making it appealing to women of all ages – from teens looking for a crossover adult read to family matriarch’s looking to feel comforted that their clan isn’t as dysfunctional as the Winslows.

I mentioned earlier that Bittersweet is available in bookstores as of mid-May (and as an eBook) and that is very true. You can pick up this book for $29.95, making it a perfect birthday gift for your gal pal that has a summer celebration on the horizon. And as you may have predicted I have a copy of Bittersweet to give away to a soon-to-be-entangled reader, courtesy of the publisher, Random House of Canada. Here’s how to enter to win it:

1) Tell me in the comments below by July 1, 2014 – Why do you want to read Bittersweet?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around July 2, 2014 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Go on now and follow Random House of Canada on Twitter. Tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why this soapy read is tops on your summer reading list! Post a link to your Tweet below to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.

5) Bonus Entry #2: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below to earn yourself another bonus entry.



29 Responses to “Book Report: Bittersweet”
  1. Kimberley says:

    It sounds like a good summer read.

  2. Debbie F says:

    It sounds like an interesting read and seems like a great “share” book. I am sure it will get passed around this summer.

  3. Audrey Skinner says:

    I love this type of novel – intriguing and mysterious.

  4. cookie3 says:

    What can I tell you? I loved Peyton Place , so will love this also.

  5. Sparkle says:

    I want to read it because I love a good mystery and this sounds good.

  6. Ashley says:

    You always write such compelling book reviews, my to read pile is getting way too long! I’ll definitely be adding this one to the pile because it sounds so gossipy and fun.

  7. Tobey says:

    This sounds like something my girlfriend would like to read…I might sneak a peek too.

  8. Joan G. says:

    You’ve made the book sound so interesting, I’d love to read it but it will be a winter read for me – don’t get much chance to read during the summer.


    This is the type of book that I like!

  10. Jeannie says:

    I love books and reading and Im always happy when I hear of a good review of someone I have never read before. This sounds like it would be a fascinating read. I would really love to win it. If I dont, I will definitely get it anyway and read it! Thanks for suggesting another great read! I hope I win!!

  11. janicour says:

    I love a great mystery. Sounds like a great read for time spent at our cottage this summer.

  12. janicour says:

  13. Annie D says:

    I need a book I can escape into and this book sounds like it fits the bill

  14. Susan says:

    Family dramas can be interesting

  15. Susan T. says:

    I love mysteries especially ones involving dark family secrets so this sounds like an awesome read for my summer!

  16. Victoria Ess says:

    I’d love to read this as you gave such a glowing review.

  17. Victoria Ess says:

  18. George Meek says:

    My wife reads 24/7 and would enjoy a new book to her reading time.

  19. Susan says:

    I would love to read Bittersweet to find out about the secrets you hinted at in your synopsis of the book! And … I love to read!!!

  20. beewbedard says:

    I love this type of novels

  21. mousecat says:

    I’d like to read this book because it just sounds like an interesting read!

  22. Jennifer R says:

    I have some free time coming up in the summer and this would be a good time to catch up on some reading!

  23. Robyn says:

    Summertime here I come, this sounds like a perfect book to tote along to the cabin.

  24. Sadie says:

    I have fond memroies of reading Peyton Place, I’d like to see how similar this book is.

  25. linnett says:

    Really really want to read this, thanks

  26. Taps says:

    i am not sure if I want to read this but know a girlfriend who would love to.

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