The real drama happens backstage in this juicy novel about an idyllic summer theater where hot stars, has-beens and hopefuls chase roles—and each other.
Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood’s hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she's pushing forty, exiled from the film world and back at the summer Shakespeare theater that launched her career—and where her old flame, Nick, is the artistic director.
It’s not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself getting her groove back, bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships and even reigniting her spark with Nick, who still seems to bring out the best in her despite their complicated history.
Until Charlie’s old rival, Hollywood’s current it girl, is brought in to attract theater donors, threatening to undo everything she’s built. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on the show of a lifetime to fight for the second chance she deserves in career and in love.
Aimee Agresti is a novelist and entertainment journalist. A former staff writer for Us Weekly, she penned the magazine's coffee-table book Inside Hollywood. Her work has also appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances, dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and HLN. The author of The Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults, she graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.
Note: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you @goodreads, @aimeeagresti and @harpercollins #goodreadsgiveaway
I’ve agonized over this book for months. It’s taunted me night after night on my bedside table: “Hello?! Remember me?! That book you started in July... yeah... it’s November lady! Get it together!!”🙄 As my stack of books continues to grow- I finally had to force myself to finish it. 😬 It’s not terrible- just incredibly slow and kinda boring and just not my cup of tea. If you’re into plays and Shakespeare, maybe pick it up?! 🤷🏼♀️
No one does drama quite like actors and actresses, you know? That's on full display in Aimee Agresti's fun new novel, The Summer Set.
Charlie Savoy was once the hottest actress around. Raised in London where she acted with her famous mother at the Old Globe Theatre, she received an Oscar nomination for her very first film. And then, amidst a gigantic flop at the box office and her own mercurial behavior, her star burned out.
She’s now 39 and owns an art house movie theater in Boston. She doesn’t miss acting. (Or does she?) When a brush with the law gets her sentenced to community service at the summer theater program where she got her start in America, she’s not happy, especially when she finds she’s being reunited with Nick, who is now the program’s artistic director. He's also the man she met at this very same program all those years ago, the man who directed her in that first film. Their pairing was the stuff of legend—and tabloids.
Nick is energized by Charlie’s return and hopes they can start anew. And when Charlie starts acting again, and realizes she never really lost her groove, it’s easy to slip into the old dynamic between her and Nick. But there are three shows to do, the theater program is in danger of shutting down, and a new arrival spells trouble. But are second chances in acting—and love—really possible?
This was fun and soapy and silly and full of drama and I was there for ALL OF IT. Sure it was predictable, but that doesn’t faze me. I do wish the parallel story with young actors was a little more fleshed out, but it was cute, so I can't complain.
Make The Summer Set part of your summer reading—or whenever you like! It's definitely entertaining.
I was fortunate to be part of the blog tour for this book. Thanks to Graydon House Books for making this possible!
Ten years ago, Charlie Savoy took Hollywood by storm and was touted as the great new star destined for greatness along with her talented director, Nick Blunt. They made it even spicier by beginning a torrid love affair that flamed out after a year in spectacular fashion, along with their careers. She retreated to Boston where she now owns and operates an art house movie theater. Then she drives her car into the river, getting a court ordered community service assignment to work with Nick during the summer at his Chamberlain Summer Theater in the Berkshires where he’s combining three Shakespeare productions with an apprentice program. What could go wrong?
When we first meet Charlie, it’s directly after her mishap in the river and on her way to court. So, we learn about her mostly from others’ accounts of her history and the discussions she has with Nick as they recall their past experiences. I found both of them intriguing and wanted to know much more about them. What really worked about the story, however, was the window into the theater world. I found the inner workings of the backstage production, training and rehearsal elements fascinating. It’s a unique art and environment where it was obvious the author had either experience or done extensive research.
I liked the story, especially how Shakespearean aspects were woven into the plot. That was cleverly executed and made this a much more layered tale. But, Charlie often came across more like a twenty-something instead of the almost 40-years old she was. She was immature and I found her tedious at times. Her “voice” in the dialogue was too young, this feeling more like a story between two young adults. I listened to the book and enjoyed the narration but it was the dialogue that created the disconnect, not the performer. Despite that issue, I enjoyed seeing Charlie and Nick rediscover their love of theater and each other. The secondary characters are really strong and I was equally invested in their outcomes. There’s a lot to like here. 3.5 stars
I really liked the premise of this novel but it wasn't all that I hoped for it to be for a story that sounded so promising.
I think my overall issue with this novel was the writing style. There were plenty of opportunities to create a beautiful and somewhat magical atmosphere but the small town came across as bland and the theatre also didn't seem that special.
Generally I liked the characters but again, due to the writing style, nothing had me truly emotionally invested in any of them or their individual stories.
It was an okay read but for such a promising plot, I had much higher hopes.
***Thank you to the publisher for supplying me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
I loved the idea of this concept - big Hollywood star caught in bit of a scandal and has to do "community service" at a small theater working with kids interested in pursuing acting. But not just any theater - one where she has a past, secrets, relationships, and DRAMA - not just the theater kind!
I enjoyed Aimee's last book but found that I had the same troubles in both. SO many characters and story lines to keep track of and I found my self getting lost a lot and forgetting who people were.
BUT ... the characters were all so likeable and fun and I loved the setting of the theater, and small town, and the whole premise of the plot. So it was enjoyable for the most part, Just a bit of a hard time keeping track of everyone! Which I imagine can be hard when a lot of them have BIG personalities (hello, actors!) and a bunch of theater kids as well.
All in all - a fun story and a cute summer read for sure! Also - a GREAT book if you are into theater production and classic plays and productions.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.
I'm going to chalk this one up to it being a review copy, and just hope that the finished product is a little more polished. My main issue with The Summer Set was its formatting. The POV would change in the middle of a chapter, and it was making me crazy! I never knew who was speaking, and it would take me several sentences to figure it out. The story bounced between Charlie, Nick, Ethan, and Sierra, but there were a lot of other characters connected to their individual perspectives (with some interesting and unexpected overlap).
In addition to the formatting, there are time skips that added to my confusion. Characters would reference something that had happened, only we weren't there and didn't experience it with them. For example, Sierra mentions understanding Ethan's family drama, but we weren't privy to whatever those two shared concerning his parents. "Sierra had already witnessed Ethan's frustration with his family and understood how hard he tried to bottle it up."
What did she witness? When? Was this their brief conversation about why he had a job? If so, that was not indicative of bottled up emotions. And then a random character named Tripp pointed out the shirt he was wearing and said something about Ethan designing them for his family's business (apparently they can be bought from Urban Outfitters), which led to Ethan sharing a few words about setting up something profitable for his family, but that's the extent of the information we receive regarding his personal drama (the gist: he made money for his family, yet they're unsupportive). Sierra and Ethan have also developed quite the friendship in a very short amount of time, and we don't really get to see that take shape. One minute they're strangers, and the next they're best buds.
That's not the only gap that I stumbled over, but it was the most recent. At a bonfire, Nick brings Charlie a stick (for s'mores) and the group Sierra and Nick are a part of feel the need to comment on their interaction. Someone claims it's an olive branch because Nick got upset when Charlie kissed Chase during rehearsals, even though the two are playing Romeo and Juliet. It wasn't a stolen kiss in a dark corner somewhere, but one that was planned in the script. Are you confused yet? I am! Why? Because whatever they're talking about wasn't something that was witnessed by readers. After the group dissects a conversation they can't hear and are not involved in, someone else divulges Nick and Charlie's shared past, although no one knows why the two split when they did. It's a mystery!
Additionally, the characters in this book, at least where Charlie and Nick are concerned, are in their 40's! They're acting like angsty teenagers, and it's all because of something that happened YEARS and YEARS ago that we're𑁋again𑁋not privy to. I'm sure those details would have been shared eventually, but I don't have that kind of patience. Here's an idea... TALK TO EACH OTHER. If they had simply had an open and honest conversation, a lot of the conflict could have been resolved. Instead, they dance around each other, neither of them wanting to address the bees in their bonnets.
The story itself wasn't bad, and I didn't hate the characters, but I disliked how disorganized the book felt. Every time the perspective changed, I would have to readjust and find my flow again. It didn't help that after discerning who was speaking, I then had to figure out how much time had passed, and what I didn't know I'd missed. I wouldn't cross this one off your list completely, but definitely see if the published version has been cleaned up a bit before diving in.
An interesting cast of characters set in the Chamberlain Summer Theatre which is failing and needs help to give it new life and secure investors. An actress whose star has dimmed reunites professionally with her ex who runs the Chamberlain. They come together to resuscitate the theatre. And themselves in the process.
I had loved Aimee’s (unfinished) YA series, so when I got the invite to read this one, I jumped at it.
I really liked Charlie. She’s struggling and unsure of herself and gets thrown into a situation that makes her even more unsure. Nick is struggling just as much, but in a different way. When these two get thrown back together, the sparks are more like embers that take an entire book to catch fire. Sierra and Ethan are two participants to the summer theatre and we also get their POVs, which did add a layer to Charlie and Nick’s actions.
Plot wise, it’s mostly good. There are a lot of moving parts here and at times, it was slow. I will say there’s so much drama and it works a lot of the time. I desperately wanted people to open their mouths and just have a conversation. And while I liked the ending, I also wanted a lot more.
Overall, it was the characters that kept me reading as I was invested in seeing if there was a HEA and how it would look.
**Huge thanks to Graydon House for providing the arc free of charge**
This is one of those three stars that is closer to a five star than a lot of four stars are. I do love a good theater story and there are a ton of interesting things here! There are good characters and relationships and yet and yet—it just doesn’t get all the way there.
I think the younger characters needed another chapter. I didn’t like
I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. This story had some enjoyable moments, but there were too many characters and too much going on to keep track of. As this was an "Uncorrected Proof", I hope that the story gets cleaned up some to make it more enjoyable. I really don't think this story needed to be close to 400 pages.
***DNF***I got to 23% and I realized I was not making any connections with the characters. Everyone’s backstories are either too rushed or non existent. There’s no build up whatsoever, the readers are just thrust into this world where some of the actors are seasoned professionals, some of them are up and comers. Good luck figuring out which is which. There’s minimal character development and not enough time devoted to making you care about any one character. I loved the idea and it sounded like something different, but this is not the book about acting that I’d pick to take center stage.
With the world just shut down, there is no live theater to enjoy, and summer theater camps may not open. If you are someone who is missing that, Aimee Agresti's new novel, The Summer Set, just might fill that void.
Charlotte "Charlie" Savoy is a former stage and movie actress who left acting behind. She owns an art movie house in Boston, and leads a low profile life, until the day she accidentally drives her car in to Boston Harbor, while under the influence of sleeping pills.
At her court hearing, she is sentenced to 60 days of community service at Chamberlain Summer Theater, which wouldn't be bad, but it happens to be the theater run by her former lover and director, Nick Blunt. Nick and Charlie had a successful collaboration and relationship until they made a disasterous movie that tanked critically and at the box office.
Charlie has a fiery personality, and she was known as a "wild child" back in the day. She comes into the Chamberlain ready to shake things up as they stage Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer's Night Dream and The Tempest. Nick needs Charlie's name to help him save the theater. He is desperate to find investors, and if he can't, the theater will close for good.
Nick also still loves Charlie and he has high hopes to win her back. Charlie wants nothing to do with Nick, but being back at the theater reignites her love of acting and more. She takes a young intern under her wing, and reconnects with people she enjoyed working with back in the day.
The Summer Set will bring back fond memories for anyone who worked at summer theater. The highlight of this breezy, charming novel is the staging of the shows. You can feel the excitement and tension in the air as they ready for "places" on opening night.
The characters could be from Shakespeare's comedies- there are love triangles, misunderstandings, young love, and frenemies. I enjoyed the Filmography and IMDB entry for Charlie, it put a nice button on the end of this enjoyable story.
Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Aimee Agresti's tour.
(3.75 stars; gifted) Honestly, I’d be happy in any theatre anywhere. I truly just miss theatre down to the depths of my soul. Reading THE SUMMER SET by Aimee Agresti was such a nice fix for me during this time where theatre is not in my life. Another fun fact about me is in real life I work for a theatre website. I’m constantly surrounded by it - writing reviews of shows, interviewing performers, and lots of other fun stuff. It’s always part of my life; always has been even before this job. So, not having been to theatre in close to three months, hearing friends out of jobs, and seeing shows close has my heart hurting so much. 🎭💔
THE SUMMER SET was a breath of fresh air and filled me with dreams of summer theatre. It was easy to believe I was in the middle of the drama, love, and rehearsals of summer theatre shows. I had a lot of fun reading it, just as I imagined Aimee Agresti had writing it.
I liked the main character, Charlie, a lot. I felt that she is all of us - just trying to find our place in the world. My only complaint is I would have liked more chapters from Sierra and Ethan’s point of view. We all know I love alternating narrations, but I felt they were under used. Yes, it was Charlie’s story, and I don’t feel I’m giving anything away by saying it is their story as much as Chamberlain’s Summer Theater’s as well, and they deserved more.
Overall, if you are a theatre lover like me or just looking for an easy read with romance, comedy, and lots and lots of drama, THE SUMMER SET is the book for you. It definitely will be one I’ll pick up when I’m in my theatre feels again. 🎭❤️
Thanks to Graydon House Books and Bookclubbish for my copy!
I received a copy of this as part of the Blog Tour and reviewed it in full on my blog, you can find that post HERE.
Aimee Agresti has written a really engaging, captivating book set at a Summer Theater Program in Boston, based on a real-life program that happens every Summer. Our main character, Charlie Savoy is a former Shakespearean actress that comes from a line of performers, her mother being a very well respected Dame.
Charlie is required to complete a Summer Theater Program as part of her community service, and the camp is run by her ex-partner, Nicholas. There are a host of side characters and stories - including some young theater kids who desperately want to prove themselves.
I enjoyed this a lot and think it would make a fantastic holiday read. Seeing as none of us are going on holiday for the forseeable future, curl up with this one and enjoy a little bit of escapism into the world of theater.
Enjoyed it a lot!
Thank you to the publisher for the advance digital copy as part of the blog tour.
While second chance romances are not always my thing, the theater setting and mentions of Shakespeare were what drew me in to read this book. I did enjoy the overall story and many of the side characters, as well as the journey our main characters went on to rediscover themselves and each other, but there were some things that took me out of the story. Our main female character does seem to have a younger voice than one would think for her age, but this may have been the intention when looking at her life as explained in the story. There were some instance where I felt that some of the side characters were almost more compelling. I did really love all of the theater talk and settings, so that was a wonderful aspect of this book. Overall it was a fun story and romance, and was an enjoyable read.
Charlie grew up in the theatre. It’s the closest thing to home she’s known. She became an actress and hit big with one role. Then her next part was in a movie that was a bit of a flop. Charlie quit acting and gas stayed pretty under the radar until recently. She accidentally fell asleep at the wheel of her car, drove off the road and into a body of water. She caused enough damage to get community service hours. She also got her name back in the headlines.
The judge sentenced her to community service and she is very upset to find that it’s at the old theatre where she used to perform. Her ex Nick is the one who asked the judge to assign her community service hours at his theatre.
They haven’t seen each other in many years. They first met about 20 years ago. Charlie is almost 40 now and Nick is a few years older. They both blame each other for the detestation of their own career because they were connected to the movie flop.
Nick’s theatre is failing. He has a crop of new theatre students, trying to fulfill dreams of their own. Nick has brought in a few celebrities to garner publicity and money for his theatre.
I found the storyline interesting and the characters likable.
I got to read an early ebook edition from NetGalley. Thanks!
This was a pretty good read. Charlie and Nick’s struggles with their relationship and trying to save Nick’s theater and Charlie’s career added layers to this read that is perfect for anyone looking for a quick, enjoyable read!
The premise of this book was interesting for a fun, summer read. Unfortunately, the tropes and lack of a captivating protagonist weren't for me. It is a decent story but with unappealing characters for me. I appreciate the chance to review this but it is made for a different reader.
I randomly came across a recommendation for this book and found it to be the light and breezy novel I hoped it would be. Early on, it was a little hard to distinguish between some of the main characters (who seemed fairly similar to me), but things became smoother once the plot unfolded a bit. This would make an excellent beach book, vacation read, or quick summer novel—just the right combination of fun and entertaining.
One of my goals this year was to read more of my TBR and not just shiny new books. This has been on my TBR for years. It should have stayed there. It’s far too long and the characters are interchangeable. I read this whole book and remember two characters. I love the theater and the story is meh.
I just loved this book. My daughter worked two summers at the Williamstown Theater Festival years ago and I got to hear lots of fun backstage gossip from her. This book brought back memories and was fun, entertaining and felt like the real thing. 👍👍