Maddy's Reviews > Last Lessons of Summer

Last Lessons of Summer by Margaret Maron
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Apr 27, 14

bookshelves: 2003-reads
Read in August, 2003

RATING: 4.25

When Frances and Bailey Barbour's first child, Maxie, was born, she received many wonderful gifts. The one that she loved the most was a set of squishy soft animals, one pink and one blue, toys that were totally cuddly and undefined enough to open a child's imagination. As Maxie grows, she talks to her toys and Bailey captures her conversations which become the material for a series of children's books. The books succeed beyond their wildest imagination, and the toys are sold worldwide. The empire of "Pink and Blue and Max" is now run by Max's husband, Jeff Voygt. Maxie, unfortunately, was a disturbed woman who committed suicide when Max and Jeff's daughter, Amy Steadman, was just a toddler. Amy and Max's children by his second wife all work for the company, with Amy being the heir apparent.

When Amy's grandmother, Frances, is murdered, Amy leaves New York and returns to the family home in North Carolina to settle the estate. There are several relatives who have a stake in the home, and they are hoping that Amy will sell it so that they can use the proceeds. Although Amy agrees to the sale, she begins to unravel some family secrets that some do not want revealed, including events around the death of her mother. She is unable to remember anything about Maxie, and she feels a strong need to have a sense of who her mother was. In the meantime, her troubled half sister has showed up and is causing havoc; and Amy has suspicions that her husband, Eric, is cheating on her. And she finds herself attracted to the local sheriff.

The plot and particularly the resolution weren't very satisfying, and just as in the Deborah Knott books, the protagonist sometimes engages in repeating a stupid phrase to herself all throughout the narrative, in this case, "What do you think, Pink? What'll we do, Blue?" The book at first seemed to be heading into romantic suspense territory, and I was not feeling confident that it would be one that I enjoyed. I should have known better, because I've enjoyed Maron's writing in both her Sigrid Harald series and her well-known Judge Deborah Knott books. As always, Maron excels at developing the characters and especially the setting. I was glad that the book included a family tree, as there are a plethora of characters and their connections to one another were rather confusing. I particularly liked how the situation with Amy's husband played out and the very final chapter of the book. Recommended.

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