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Cape May : A Novel

3.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,861 ratings  ·  772 reviews
A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites.

Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Celadon Books
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Average rating 3.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,861 ratings  ·  772 reviews

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Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
The 1950s have always struck me as a dull, goody two shoes decade. And Henry and Effie certainly fit that mold. Newlyweds, just out of high school, they head from Georgia to Cape May for their honeymoon. And not height of summer Cape May, but out of season, everything’s closed Cape May. So when they notice a whole batch of cars parked outside the house a few doors down, they stop by. But the woman who answers the door is someone Effie has no desire to see. “She’s a snot nosed bully and a harlot. ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Desire and early marriage are a perfect match but on their honeymoon in Cape May, the brand new and unfamiliar feeling of lust sends naive newlyweds Effie and Henry down a dangerous path. Can they retrace their steps and go back to pure and innocent times, or will their unforgivable actions alter the course of their relationship forever?

Chip Cheek's debut, Cape May, is set in 1957 and the innocent, young couple is right out of high school. After a disappointing few days on their honeymoon in a
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is one of the first books from the new Celadon imprint, so I've had it for a while but was waiting to read it until closer to its publication date. A quick weekend trip to the rainy coast was the perfect setting.

It's 1957 and Henry and Effie are newlyweds, headed to Cape May (NJ) in late September for their honeymoon. Of course they are practically the only people there in the off season and the weather is miserable. Effie grew up going to Cape May in the summers, but didn't realize what
Dannii Elle
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the synopsis, this novel is described as a "mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek". The unputdownable nature of its contents and the speed with which I tore through the pages can certainly attest to that!

It is 1957 and two newlyweds make their temporary home in New Jersey, for the duration of their honeymoon. The streets are deserted, the homes are abandoned, and this popular setting for summer escape lies in a silent and gloomy out-of-season solitude. Thrown in such close proximity, and
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book opens in the 1950's with Henry and Effie who are newly married. They have arrived in Cape May from their home in Georgia during the off-season. The town is pretty much deserted - a beach town after everyone has gone back to their regular lives. They are both virgins and there is much time spent discovering each other. When they see some people have moved into the house nearby they stop by to say hello and get pulled into what seems like fun at first, but turns into a bad situation for ...more
Theresa Smith
May 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm, Myrtle Beach
I thought this was great book for a debut author! The writing and the characters were very well done.

Being 2019, you forget how young and naive couples used to be when they got married in the 1950s (Henry was 20 and Effie was 18). I SO appreciated that we got a glimpse of the rest of Henry and Effie's life at the end of the book... only wish we knew how Clara, Max, and Alma's lives went as well. I love a good wrap-up!

While Cape May isn't my normal type of book, I really ended up enjoying it.
Carol (Bookaria)
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, fiction
A newly-wed, young couple from Georgia spends their honeymoon in Cape May, New England during the 50s. What happens those days will alter their lives.

A few careless moments from the main characters and the story takes shape. The novel is about marriage, trust, and sexuality. I did not find the characters compelling or utterly interesting and there were sections I did not find engaging.

Overall, it was ok. I recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
Roman Clodia
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a fun read but it feels ultimately a bit inconsequential to me: essentially a 'betrayal of innocence' tale, it follows two young newly-weds in 1957 - both virgins on their wedding night - and how they get sucked into the glamorous world of excessive drink, sex and hedonism on their two-week honeymoon. There are no surprises and the dynamics of the seduced and the seducers have been done before, arguably with more impact.

Most of the book is focalised through Henry, the young husband, and
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs-2019
Two young innocents arrive to spend their short honeymoon in a relative’s beach cottage, in the off-season shore town of Cape May, based at the southern tip of New Jersey in 1957. Cape May during this era wasn’t the resort it is today, where the season extends well past Labor Day and there are plenty of places for summer guests to stay, as they bicycle past the old Victorian houses.

Henry is 20 and Effie is 18, having traveled by train all the way from their little country town south of Macon,
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I could not decide if I actually wanted to read Cape May or not. Of course, in the end, I did decide to read this book. Now, I am honestly regretting that decision. It's well written and solid. It's the content of the story that bothered me the most. These young and wide eyed newlyweds are in a place in Cape Cod where they probably shouldn't have gone. They become entangled with other couples, people, etc. They see this decadent life full of people with no inhibitions about anything, and this ...more
Christopher Castellani
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As some other reviews have indicated, you think you've seen this book, but you haven't. There is a simultaneous tenderness and brutality in these pages -- both in the complexity of the narrator, and the gorgeously precise and evocative descriptions of a resort town in the off-season -- and a mastery of storytelling and pacing that kept me completely mesmerized. Yes, there is a surfeit of sex, but it's not gratuitous; it's an essential part of the narrator's psychology and the project of the ...more
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Henry is a young country boy from Georgia and he just married his high school sweet heart, Effie. They are on their honeymoon in Cape May, New Jersey and the year is 1957. They are not only exploring their sexuality as newlyweds, but they are also expanding their horizons as this isn't rural Georgia anymore. In fact, Cape May is pretty much abandoned for the season except for a group of sophisticated city dwellers from up North. They have money, they throw lavish dinner parties, they drink, they ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Imagine Florence and Edward, the young virginal newlyweds of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach. Place them in a Great Gatsby setting. And then, for the fun of it, add in a liberal dose of prurient interest — Susan Minot’s Lust comes to mind. Now you may have an idea about what to expect from Cape May.

In this novel, Effie and Henry are woefully unprepared for marriage. They barely have a clear understanding of themselves let alone each other. While on a sometimes awkward honeymoon at Cape May, they
I was so smug to be reading this around the time of a short trip to Cape May last month. What could be more perfect for reading on location? I asked myself. Unfortunately, it stood out for the wrong reasons. In October 1957 a young pair of virgins, Effie and Henry, travel from Georgia to New Jersey for an off-season honeymoon in her uncle’s vacation home. They’re happy enough with each other but underwhelmed with the place (strangely enough, this matched my experience of Cape May), and even ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book-- it creeps up on you stealthily and with great finesse, and then packs a real punch. I loved the way the author entered the protagonist's psyche and kept the voice and tone believable throughout, even when things begin to get a bit crazy. It's a a simmering novel that leaves you thinking: sexy and sad, explicit while also purposeful, wistful and furious, and finally quite provocative and moving.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
This was an ARC First Reads Good Reads giveaway.

The writing was lyrical and it was nice to read about a town I had visited. Since it focused on sex and honeymoon in the 1950s, it made me think of the movie "On Chesil Beach." However, I found the story to be slow, and the characters incredibly unsympathetic, and while their making poor life choices was the point of the story, I found myself constantly judging them and was just not interested in their lives.
Laura • lauralovestoread
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I wanted to read a love story by the beach and instead got a story about young newlyweds in Cape May, entangled with other people and couples that they shouldn’t have been a part of.

1950’s Cape May, Henry and Effie start their honeymoon discovering one another, and the people they meet in coastal New Jersey. Sexual desires abound, along with the gin and tonic that’s flowing, and it doesn’t take long before these couples discover their hidden desires.

Overall I enjoyed this, but I think I was
Cassie-Traveling Sister-
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing debut from this author. I was immediately sucked in and felt like I was at Cape May in 1950’s feeling the ocean breeze! This book had so many levels and the characters each had their own personality some I disliked more than others. This book opens in the 1950’s with newlyweds Henry and Effie. They have traveled to Cape May a beach town for their honeymoon to stay at Effie’s uncles home. This is Cape Mays off season so it’s deserted. They are taking this time on their ...more
Tyler Goodson
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
When Henry and Effie, a couple from a small town in Georgia, go to Cape May, NJ for their honeymoon, they arrive in the dead of the off-season. The beaches are empty and almost no one else is around. A few days in they decide to leave early, that is, until they run into some neighbors Effie knew as a child. As the couple and their new friends become closer, (way closer) Henry and Effie's sheltered lives are opened up to the glamorous and the profane. This novel is juicy, sharp, and soaked in ...more
Uta Birken
Feb 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
First I thought, it will be a really good book, but while reading and waiting for the surprise it felt like reading a porn. Horrible.
Crystal King
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Chip Cheek makes his debut with a page-turner about newlyweds who are faced with a number of temptations (beautiful people + way too much booze) and the aftermath of their choices. It's a very sexy and sex-filled book, so readers who might not be up for graphic scenes should steer clear. But if you are not deterred, you'll be rewarded with extraordinarily well-drawn characters, an exquisitely rendered backdrop of the town of Cape May in 1957, and a deep dive into the dynamics of relationships, ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I love Cape May. So I bought a book for it's cover and title. My mistake. Lovely setting but awful book. Self indulgent characters. No plot. ABSOLUTELY POINTLESS.
Lady R
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely gripping and emotionally charged character study based in 1950’s Cape May; I raced through this book. A perfect summer read and I can’t wait to see what Chip Cheek writes next - his way of writing makes you feel as if are directly with the characters in the story, at the same party, sipping the same martinis and being a voyeur on this hedonistic tale!
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2019
Very readable, but with a few problems.
I'll have a full review on the blog soon.
Katherine Riley
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cape May is a novel of seduction. It draws you in with its beautiful voice. It’s a novel of a young marriage, a character study woven through with whisper-quiet social criticism and sharp reflection, with such elegant writing you hardly realize you’ve been swept up into a maelstrom of sexual awakening and desire in the tradition of Nin and Miller. This novel is intense. You’ll leave it limp and spent, but still wanting more.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
I must have read a different book from the one reviewed as "brilliantly unsettling" and "exquisite". The title attracted me, drawing on all my visits to this beautiful South Jersey shore, Victorian town. But, this narrative took me to the "underbelly" of that magic place in the 1950s and I couldn't get out of there fast enough!

Cheek's characters are cardboard stereotypes. The naïve honeymoon couple from Georgia (Henry and Effie) is drawn into a lustful "adventure" with the fast-moving,
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Loved this book. Very sexy, but not in a salacious or laughably awful literary way. Too often fiction 'fades to black' with sex scenes, but Chip Cheek doesn't shy away and it really works in his favour. Although I felt the last chapter was essentially an unnecessary afterword, it didn't take away from how compulsive this read was. 2019 is looking to be a great year for Fiction, and this is another one to look forward to - for Historical Fiction fans, but also those partial to a compelling coming ...more
Maureen Connolly
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-read
All I can say about Chip Cheek’s Debut novel Cape May is This Book! From the moment I entered the off-season resort town visited by honeymooners in the late nineteen fifties, I couldn’t pull away. Is it Cheek’s flawless writing style? Yes. Is it the way Cheek creates a moody atmosphere that makes you cozy up into the words, pages and chapters? That too. Even though the time frame is different – there were moments in Cape May when I was certain that Jay Gatsby may stroll across the stage along ...more
Rosemarie Donzanti
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This book reads like a very naughty version of The Great Gatsby. Set in the late 1950s, newly married Henry and Effie head to Cape May for their Honeymoon. They quickly get caught in a steamy spiral of betrayal, corruption and hedonism. Can this couple recover and lead a normal life after the ravages of infidelity and unbridled lust? Pick up a copy of this book and head to the beach where the pages are hotter than a day on the Jersey shore.

Any man can be devoted to me. Are you worth the
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