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The Summer Guest

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,685 ratings  ·  432 reviews
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for his radiant novel in stories, Mary and OâNeil, Justin Cronin has already been hailed as a writer of astonishing gifts. Now Croninâs new novel, The Summer Guest, fulfills that promiseâand more. With a rare combination of emotional insight, narrative power, and lyrical grace, Cronin transforms the simple story of a dying manâs last wish ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 29th 2004 by The Dial Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Barbara A
Feb 22, 2010 Barbara A rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nearly everyone
I am delighted to read the reviews about this book on Good Reads. I agree with almost everything that's been said: the Maine setting; the deep and abiding affection through the generations---both to a place and to people; the decency of all of the characters. It's pretty close to perfect.
I had Justin Cronin as a professor and he was pretty great. He gave these quizzes to make sure you did the reading, but they would be really really easy. You would know the answers right away if you read, but wouldn't have a clue if you didn't. I got a 100 on all of them. Once, however, I was staring into space waiting for the next question. I honestly wasn't looking at anything. I caught Justin's eye, and realized I had been staring right at someone else's paper. He immediately made an announce ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
It is so rare to read a book that has not one boring page in it. This is an elegantly written family saga and suspenseful tale which is visually stunning and emotionally riveting. Polished, immersing, unputdownable. I wanted in. I wanted to leap into the novel--literally! and connect with the characters personally. There are times it brought me to my knees.

This is an author who braids craft with art without sacrificing one for the other. Cronin controls his story and characters with a fierce ye
Another good Justin Cronin book. About relationships - this time, father and daughter. His books are such a pleasure to read because he has this way with words that is mesmerizing. Here's an example worth reading:
"I had a dog once - what a dog he was! A retriever with something else mixed in, a breed that liked to work and herd: Australian shepherd, maybe, or collie. I named him Mauritz, though Hal called him Ritzy and it stuck. Ritzy the dog. A steadfast member of the team, as relentless as a m
A lovely story about three-generations of a family who run a fishing camp in a remote area of Maine. The story unfolds through the points of view of various family members and friends in alternating chapters, utilizing flashbacks to explain what is happening in the present--which is that a sick old man has come back to the camp to die. The main focus of the story is about relationships, especially that between a daughter and her father.
JoAnne Pulcino
This is a stunning novel written in 2005. I think it is so breathtaking, everyone should be able to share in its beauty. The story takes place at a rustic fishing camp on the northern tip of Maine, and spans the eras just after World War II and continues through three generations of family and friends. The plot revolves around a wealthy entrepreneur who fell in love with the camp as a young man and revisited it for thirty years. The last trip he makes there is different in that he has come for h ...more
This book is set in a fishing camp in nothern Maine so for location alone I was drawn into the book. However, I also enjoyed the storytelling style. Most of the story is told looking back, and by 5 different characters. I found the transition from their reflections back to the present nearly seamless which I found intriguing just from a writing perspective. In addition, there are mini-stories within the larger novel, each of which can be contemplated individually as well as part of an integrated ...more
I read this book while at camp at Raquette Lake, NY. The story was interesting enough, but what I found more exciting was how the fictional Maine camp was run - guided tours for fishing and hunting, hiking trails, and a dining room where guests could share meals, for example.

How I wanted to buy and renew Risley's Rush Point right then!! It has so much potential. But, it's not my camp (I just rent), and I enjoy not having to do anything but read some books in an Adirondack chair while I'm there.
If I ever write a book, I hope I write half as well as Justin Cronin. I love his style, the way he puts words together. That is what struck me first.

Next, I became intrigued by the story, which was revealed bit by bit. It was like looking at a series of pictures and hearing a story about each one.

But last and best, I fell in love with the people. It's hard to even call them characters. I wanted to know them forever. I want to go and stay in one of the cabins and eat breakfast in the lodge and wa
Am loving this book, the characters are so rich.
Arapahoe Library District
This is a stunning novel written in 2005. I think it is so breathtaking, everyone should be able to share in its beauty. The story takes place at a rustic fishing camp on the northern tip of Maine, and spans the eras just after World War II and continues through three generations of family and friends. The plot revolves around a wealthy entrepreneur who fell in love with the camp as a young man and revisited it for thirty years. The last trip he makes there is different in that he has come for h ...more
This very touching book by Justin Cronin spans the course of several decades. Each of the four main characters ... Harry Wainwright, Joe Crosby, Jordan Patterson and Lucy Crosby (Joe's wife)tells this poignant story in their own words and from their own perspectives. The story begins with Harry, who is dying of lung cancer, returning to a beautiful spot.... a fishing camp in Maine.. where he has spent nearly all of the summers of his life and which has great personal significance.. for him and e ...more
An old man returning to his summer refuge by the lake to die makes for a good premise and creates a situation that is bound to invoke memories, secrets, past conflicts, and hopefully, resolution.

And we get all that in full measure in this beautifully written novel narrated in four voices: those of the dying man Harry, the summer camp owner Joe who was also a convicted draft dodger, his wife Lucy who was once Harry’s lover, and the young camp guide Jordan. The author shows a remarkable understand
After readingThe Passage I wanted to read more of Cronin's work. His writing is emotional without being sappy and so beautifully written I was drawn into the story immediately. This story was simple enough in it's plot; a man has chosen to come back to a much loved fishing camp to die. The story is in the way his story intertwined with that of a group of other people at the camp. Eventhough the story is about how this mans death will change the lives of many, he is not the main character. The ch ...more
Loved this book, sorry I've come to the end, except maybe can get some rest now!!! Andy picked this up at the Jania's a-frame, thanks to Syl for the 'loaner'...First chapter was a little rough,trite. So was another chapter later on and part of another. The rest was outstanding! Made myself put it down so it would last, looked forward to reading time at night so I could pick it up and resume. Reading on the deck one day, sobbed when Harry's wife died (not a spoiler folks, says so in the first cha ...more
Didn't believe in the characters, which made me really not care about them at all. Which is a shame, because there was a lot of sad stuff going on here and it would have made me feel less like a heartless bitch if I could respond with some kind of emotion. But all the characters told their individual stories (stories that I couldn't force myself to be interested in) in the first person, but all with the same voice (with the same weird and pretentious similes), which was both unrealistic and a li ...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
7/2/2010 I really like this book. Although somewhat slow-paced the writer weaves a magical story that keeps me interested.

7/4/2010 This book is about a fishing camp in Maine inherited by the son and his wife from the father, the owner. Some parts of this book are sad and some parts are happy but Justin Cronin can definitely weave a story that will keep you interested from the first page to the last. I really enjoyed the book and I can't say anything bad about it but it was confusing the way the
Roxy Rowe
This book was so amazing; I lingered over it, and did not want it to finish. Cronin's descriptions of the Maine countryside were so beautiful that I wanted to go there. His characterizations were complex and I felt I knew his people intimately. I read this as a e-book, but now I want to possess the hardback, and reread it in the future, which is something I very rarely do.
Wat een mooi boek! Mooi geschreven, mooi verhaal. In eerste instantie leek het een lekker tussendoortje, maar als het verhaal je eenmaal te pakken heeft, dan is het geweldig om te lezen. Een geschiedenis die zich afspeelt in een Nationaal Park in de US. Drie generaties qua leeftijd, niet qua bloedband), die allemaal met elkaar verbonden zijn door hun liefde voor het park.
Solid, yet somewhat predictable plot. My biggest complaint was the names of the characters...Joe, Jordan, Hal, and Harry. It may seem trivial, but when I read a novel like this, I usually peg character names to a picture in my head of that character, but only end up seeing the first couple letters of each name as I'm reading through the novel. So when the four main characters have the same first two letters in their names, I end up getting all the characters confused and the plot gets all muddy. ...more
I was disappointed in this book and had to push through with my "have to finish every book I start" attitude.

I've decided I don't like books which tell the story in different person point of views from chapter to chapter and then between the current time period and the past. Some portions were enjoyable but most often I'd put the book down because it wasn't hold my attention and then I'd not pick it back up again for a few (or more) days; then I'd have a hard time picking up where I'd left off (
Beth Gordon
Enjoyable read with multiple narrators that flashes back to the past and then back to the present and finally an epilogue of sorts. While I would say this is a "chick lit" book, it seemed to be better written than most. I enjoyed learning about flyfishing and a little bit more about World War II and Vietnam, but there wasn't enough of these topics to drown out the themes of the book.

The main twist you could see coming from a mile away.

I typically get the female characters confused, but in this
I really like stories told from different viewpoints and I especially like this one.
Each character is so well drawn - and allowed to add their piece of the story, both past and present, in turn.
Since I live in Maine, the setting is particularly interesting to me, but I think it would be to most.
The historical references to the Vietnam war, Watergate, Nixon, the moonwalk and other memorable events of the 60's resonated with me
And the counter play of past and present are well done.
Thanks to Sue
I picked this after reading and loving The Passage. The Summer Guest is quite a different experience than the former, and I'd describe it as a little sleepy. I'm not sure how the story could have been made more exciting, but I don't think it was really meant to be. A lot of the best parts arrive late in the story, and you do find that you care about the characters by that point which certainly makes a different. I'm a little ho-hum about this one in reflection but it was a pleasant read nonethel ...more
Kathleen Beales
An absolutely fabulous book about love, life and how our experiences shape our lives. It's amazing how these characters intertwine and connect through their collective connection to a small fishing vacation spot in Maine. I loved this book! And, the beauty is the connection made with the characters still linger 2 months after reading it. A definitely must for anyone who enjoys reading about the human spirit and if you want to be taken on a journey through the everyday lives of others.
Matt Howard
Aug 17, 2008 Matt Howard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: my friend, Gail
War and Peace is a book about love and death. Anna Karenina is a book about love and death. The Color Purple, Oryx and Crake, and Hamlet, are, whatever else they are, books (and a play) about love and death. The Summer Guest is a book about fathers and daughters, about courage, and it is most of all a book about love and death. It is a novel that deserves to be mentioned in the same paragraph with the classics, and I recommend it without reservation.
This book is a smooth read; it's generally well written, although Cronin's characters often speak in such cliches that it's hard to believe in it. The end is affecting. However, the book never really rises above the superficial level in terms of the characters, emotions etc. These aren't especially complicated characters, and I didn't come away from this feeling that I had read either a great book or a book with keen insight into the human condition.
A sentimental trip through the lives of a family running a fishing camp in upstate Maine. Three generations from WW II to Vietnam and to the nineties tell their intertwined stories through the talents of Justin Cronin. Somewhat predictable but thats okay when the tale is told so beautifully. The love coming from the characters is genuine and truly enriching. Its acceptable, and unavoidable, to shed a tear while reading The Summer Guest.
I really loved this book. I read The Passage and loved it so much that I added the rest of his catalog to my to-read list. I was told that this book (written before The Passage) was nothing alike. This is basically true, but is is great nonetheless. Honestly, it read like an Irving book which is a complement in my eyes. It is a great story with the perfect balance of happy and sad. I highly recommended it!
I debated whether to give this book one or two stars. Boring! Too much description -- pages and pages before anyone speaks or anything happens. On the advice of a friend, I finally skipped to the last 50 pages and read the conclusion. That was also a disappointment. It was totally predictable and I had surmised the book's "secret" in the first 75 pages. I do NOT recommend this book.
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Justin Cronin is an American novelist. Awards he's won for his fiction include the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Stephen Crane Prize, and the Whiting Writer's Award.

Born and raised in New England, Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He currently lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas where he is Professor of English at Rice University.

From Wikipedia
More about Justin Cronin...
The Passage (The Passage, #1) The Twelve (The Passage, #2) Mary and O'Neil: A Novel in Stories A Passagem - Volume I (The Passage #1, Part 1 of 2) The City of Mirrors (The Passage, #3)

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“Real courage is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. Doing the unpopular thing because it's what you believe, and the heck with everybody.” 124 likes
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