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Seeking Sara Summers

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The Best Selling Coming Out Later in Life Lesbian Novel! You'll enjoy this story of courage and transformation. How would your life be different if you were truly yourself?

Sara Summers Stanton has raised three children and works as a high school teacher at the same school she attended growing up. Her 25 year marriage is showing cracks in the facade and now she's dealing with breast cancer.

In a rare moment of taking care of herself instead of everyone else, Sara takes a sabbatical and goes on the trip to Italy she has always dreamed of taking. This search for a more authentic life leads to Julia, a friend she hasn't seen since they were inseparable as girls, nearly 30 years earlier.

They reunite in Florence and their friendship continues where they left off, resulting in an unexpected attraction to one another that threatens to turn Sara's already shaky world upside down. Sara's inner conflict and subsequent choices reveal an unpredictable yet dynamic future for all the characters. Seeking Sara Summers is an emotional and lyrical novel, a timeless story about love, commitment and transformation.

What Readers Are Saying About Seeking Sara Summers: "Gabriel renders Sara's growing attraction and conflict with insight. There is a real sense of what is at stake for all three of these characters: Sara, Julia and Grady. A beautiful and powerful story." -- Heather O'Neill, Book Reviewer, afterellen.com "I started reading Seeking Sara Summers with my breakfast tea and couldn't put it down until I had finished it--even missed my trip to the gym. I laughed and cried and felt warmed by the Tuscan sun." -- Ann B., Asheville, NC "I've read plenty of fiction in my life, everything from junky beach books to classic literature. I loved this book. Gabriel is a clever, funny, profound writer who quickly takes you into the inner world of her characters, while taking you on an external journey that keep you glued to the page. Sara's character jumps from the pages and her transformation has impacted and inspired me." -- Jackie W., Loveland, Colorado

195 pages, Paperback

First published July 25, 2008

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About the author

Susan Gabriel

15 books186 followers
Susan Gabriel is an acclaimed southern author who lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Her novels, The Secret Sense of Wildflower (a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012) and Temple Secrets (2015) are Amazon and Nook #1 bestsellers.

Find out more about Susan and her other novels at www.SusanGabriel.com.

Easiest place to contact:

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGabriel...

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5 stars
79 (26%)
4 stars
87 (29%)
3 stars
89 (30%)
2 stars
22 (7%)
1 star
17 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
Profile Image for Book Worm.
120 reviews31 followers
February 14, 2017
If you are looking for the typical chic-lit with erotica, you will not find it here. Instead you will find Sara Summers. She is a character worth getting to know. The story-line is more than believable and Sara's emotional struggle really made me think.
Haiku derived from this book:
We look at each other -
Between us the words shattered
Shards on the floor.
Profile Image for Susan Gabriel.
Author 15 books186 followers
March 17, 2014
I wrote this book, so I am totally biased. Wouldn't you give one of your kids 5 stars?!
Profile Image for Alexie H..
Author 1 book7 followers
January 14, 2018
Is a bit slow at the beginning however really love this story, this is the second time i am reading it the romance between Sara and Julia is really touching and Amazing....Love it
Profile Image for Jennie.
736 reviews
December 2, 2009
This is the most recent book I won on www.goodreads.com. I just love getting free books, especially free books that are really enjoyable to read! This is the story of a woman, Sara, who is feeling a little lost in her life. Her children are grown and out of the house and her husband seems to be on a different planet all together. She longs for something to fulfill her and take away the blah feeling of her life. She takes a leap into the unknown by tracking down her old childhood friend and this one action, changes the course of her life, her attitude and her entire being. I thought the character development went along at a nice pace and the time in Italy was amazing…I felt as if I was standing on the balcony watching the streets full of people below. The ending of the book was just what I hoped it would be…I could see it coming, but that didn’t take away from the angst Sara felt while wondering what her life could be.
Profile Image for Victoria.
763 reviews9 followers
March 4, 2017
Almost from the very beginning, this novel had me thinking. "Where did I get this book from? (It was a download on my NOOK.) "Have I ever read anything by this author before?" (Not that I can recall.) "Was it recommended by a friend?" (Doubt it.) "Maybe there was some good PR in the review of it." (I tried to find anything such as a "If you liked blah-blah novel, you'll love Seeking Sara Summers" or "For fans of so-and-so." (Couldn't find a clue.) So, I really have no idea why I wanted to read this and how I acquired it. It's not too bad and I have to say--warning, Book Club--you're probably going to hear about this one at the March meeting.
Profile Image for Teddie.
222 reviews3 followers
December 11, 2016
A short, easy read....told in a monotone.

Sara is having a midlife crisis. Her marriage of 25 years is unsatisfying. Her kids don't need her any more. Her cancer, which was in remission, seems to be back. She feels like she's just going through the motions...

Then Sara gets a notice in the mail of an art gallery opening in Florence, Italy, along with a handwritten note. The note is from Julia, her childhood best friend whom she hasn't seen in thirty years, inviting Sara to come to her opening. Sara sends back a congratulatory note, regretfully declining the invitation.

And then Sara (who never does anything impulsively) does something impulsive. She sells a valuable piece of jewelry she inherited from a relative, buys a round trip ticket to Italy, and leaves her family and job behind for two weeks.

Julia is overjoyed to see Sara, and Sara suddenly realises how much she's missed her childhood best friend. Julia is a wonderful travel guide, and the two have a great time exploring the sights and getting reacquainted. But something unexpected happens. The two women find themselves attracted to each other, and the friendship is rapidly turning into something more. And now Sara must make a decision. In however much time she has left of her life, does she follow her conscience, or follow her heart?

This book had a lot of promise, but it fell flat for me. Told from Sara's pov, but it all seems to be told in a monotone. Sarah's husband seemed like a cardboard character. The intense affair didn't seem all that intense. And the angst did not seem to be all that gut wrenching.

This was a short, easy read. I just couldn't get emotionally involved. The characters never came to life. And for me, that's the whole point of reading fiction. Three stars.
Profile Image for Jo.
46 reviews3 followers
June 19, 2009
Who hasn't questioned their life at some point in time? I applaud Susan Summers for following her heart after facing cancer in the eye and stepping into a life for herself. I saw myself as I go through my life doing for my husband and daughter, with very little regard for my wants and needs. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to read this book, it has opened my eyes and I will not take my days for granted and will look for what soothes me. OK life....here I come, hope you are ready for me.
Profile Image for Georgiann Hennelly.
1,932 reviews21 followers
July 30, 2010
Sara is feeling a little lost in her life. Her children are grown and out of the house and her husband seems to have his own life. She longs for something different something to take away the blah feeling.Sara decides to track down her old childhood friend and this one action changes the course of her life, her attitude and her entire being. the ending of the story was just what i hoped it would be.
Profile Image for Parastoo Samiei .
13 reviews99 followers
April 9, 2015
I've read the whole book in three days which is a record for me these days. I didn't feel that the author has made up a story. It was obvious that she had gone trough same drama herself. I believe that's the reason I've been really connected with Sara and I could have believed her thoughts and emotions.
Profile Image for Lisa.
81 reviews
February 16, 2010
A wonderful friend of mine bought me this book... amazing surprise!! I was so excited to read this book. The overall story was ok, I connected more with the feelings and emotions that they were going through... and the outcome was as I wished for them! A happy ending :)
Profile Image for Jean Roberta.
Author 77 books33 followers
January 8, 2010
Novels about mid-life crises or, more specifically, about women who dump their husbands, change careers, go back to school, hit the road, or “come out” as lesbians, bisexuals, transmen or members of a BDSM community tend to be interesting studies in personality development.

Considering that few people really change completely in middle age, an apparent change is usually based on the re-emergence of passions that have been buried for years. Since the birth of Second Wave feminism in the 1970s, coming-of-middle-age novels by and about women have sprung up as a variant form of bildungsroman, or novel of development. One U.S. critic named this type of women’s novel a reifungsroman, or novel of ripening.

Seeking Sara Summers is about a woman in her forties who is forced to think about death by the cancer that deprives her of a breast. Her three children are grown, and she realizes that she and her husband never had much in common; they were friends in high school and married each other because this felt comfortable and convenient at the time.

Facing a recurrence of cancer, Sara must also face the fact that life can be short and shouldn’t be wasted. She remembers the one person who brought joy and excitement into her life before her marriage: Julia, her best friend and the one that Sara’s husband once hoped to marry.

What will become a cataclysm in Sara’s life begins with a random thought: Whatever happened to Julia? Sarah hasn’t heard from her in years, and still feels as if Julia abandoned her in high school when she moved to England with her well-educated parents. Sarah googles Julia’s “maiden” name, and is amazed to discover that Julia has become a successful artist, living in Florence, Italy. In effect, Julia has lived Sara’s fantasy life.

So far, so promising. Julia’s response to Sara’s email becomes a seed which brings Sara back from the brink of near-suicidal depression, and her husband Grady’s immediately negative, suspicious response seems realistic. He recognizes a threat when he sees one, and his feelings for Julia are still complicated. Julia’s invitation to Sara to visit her in Italy is like a grenade thrown into a house which was flimsy to start with. As a high school English teacher suffering from burnout, Sara longs for beauty and adventure.

As the reader can foresee, the plot thickens. Sara is clearly influenced by the Catholic iconography of her youth, especially images of the Virgin, a more visible and potent symbol in Italy than in traditionally Puritan New England. Although Sara doesn’t seem to have a value system of her own, it is clearly hard for her to give up a traditionally Catholic conception of marriage as unbreakable.

Julia’s and Sara’s rediscovery of each other and their working-through of a mutual sense of desertion, all under the golden light of the Tuscan sun, could have given rise to a richer novel than this one. Unfortunately, the central attraction of Sara to Julia and vice versa isn’t described vividly enough to persuade me that it has the volcanic force to change both women’s lives forever.

Julia reflects Sara back to herself in a way that looks almost unbelievably flattering. Julia tells her several times that Sara has a rare sweetness, yet this quality looks more like passivity than anything else. Sara supposedly teaches “the classics” to teenagers, yet her comments about Italy largely consist of repeating the word “beautiful” until she apologizes to Julia’s friends for repeating herself. Apparently she is too enchanted by everything she sees to express herself in more precise or colourful words.

Sara admits to Julia that she has been Republican all her life simply because she was following Grady’s lead; she seems completely devoid of political consciousness. During an idyllic moment in Italy, Sara is reminded of the life she temporarily escaped:

"The Sunday New York Times was spread out on the bed in front of them. Sara skimmed the latest stories about their unpopular president [George Bush?:] who at Grady’s suggestion she had voted for twice. Life in the States had continued on without her."

Neither Sara nor Julia discuss the reasons for the president’s unpopularity, nor why it might be a good thing for women, even married ones, to think about how they cast the votes that their feminist foremothers worked so hard to gain for them. When Julia unveils a painting of Sara which she made strictly from memory, the narrative voice expresses Sara’s unspoken response:

"The woman in the painting looked too alive and beautiful to be her, even an imagined version. She held a boldness Sara had never felt she possessed."

Unfortunately, this reviewer also has trouble imagining Sara as “alive” (at the time the painting was made) or “bold,” although she seems attractive enough on the surface, precisely because she rarely does, says or wears anything which could possibly offend anyone.

Julia seems to have been spicier all her life, yet the artwork which has gained her an income and a reputation is not described clearly enough to visualize. More incredibly, Julia (as a beautiful, flamboyant woman in her forties), has never been erotically attracted to any woman besides Sara, or sufficiently interested in any man to form a committed relationship.

Philosophical and esthetic concepts are vaguely referred to in this novel. The architecture of Florence and Siena flash past the reader’s eyes like images seen from a train. Sara’s relationships with her widowed father, her brother, her children, her in-laws, her colleagues and her students are all repeatedly referred to in ways which don’t really shed enough light on them. Luckily, her husband gets to express himself in passages of dialogue.

I would love to cheer Sara on as she wrestles with a choice between two Significant Others, two lifestyles and two environments. I would love to swoon over the magic of love between two mature women who know what they want, and taste the wine from robust Italian grapes. Unfortunately, the magic doesn’t work for me. Other readers will undoubtedly see different things in this novel, but I can imagine the story this author could have told, based on the same plot premise, and it is altogether much bolder and more alive than this one.

Profile Image for Janet.
9 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2018
Is never too late to find happiness, I read the whole book in 2 days. Is little draggy at the beginning but it starts to get interesting the moment she reunited with Julia. I really love the romance btw Sara and Julia. A wonderful love story
Profile Image for Tami Bartshe.
98 reviews
April 20, 2018
This is my first book by this author. The story line was interesting. Sara's wishy washy attitude got a bit tiring. And the dialogue seemed at times, fake. But all in all, I liked that the wife and mother decides its finally time to do something for herself.
Profile Image for Elle.
188 reviews
May 19, 2021
Sara Summers travels to Italy to meet childhood friend and artist Julia. Both women are in their mid 40s holding enough regret and temptation to start their mid lives a new.
Profile Image for Kitty Davis.
2 reviews1 follower
May 14, 2018
Good read

This is a good book for some one who is not sure about there coming out yet. Let them see how hard it is . What a great idea it is too do so.
31 reviews2 followers
July 11, 2010
Sara Summers is the wife and mother who's always done what's expected. Her three grown children have it together, visit for the holidays and genuinely care about their mother. Grady, her husband, has been seeing a therapist with Sara for some time, evidently with little impact on their life together. He seems uninterested and sometimes completely oblivious to her moods. She feels distant and trapped. She also has been battling cancer, which up until recently was in remission. With what may be her last bit of time left on Earth, Sara becomes desperate for change and happiness, and she quickly begins living by doing the unexpected and spontaneous.

This premise is promising, especially when it's apparent that Sara will not only fall in love but will do so with a woman - her best friend. Sadly, the writing doesn't quite pull off the ambitious journey the characters take.

In a well-written story, the author's decisions about what to leave out and what to put in are equally crucial. Unfortunately, this novel omits far too many details and fills the pages with what amounts to filler. Large chunks of it can simply be skipped; the reader does not need to be told what happened to someone at some point in time when that person isn't important in the story and the information adds no insight.

On the other hand, the novel deals with so many complex issues that aren't thoroughly explored. I have no idea what Sara's marriage is like. I have no idea who she is, in fact, even after having read the story. The end pages were filled with the same conversation about being torn between doing "what's expected" and not. None of the other characters are well-drawn; they just exist as character types who are meant to fill a role in the plot.

The novel is a quick, easy read, and the story is a good one. It isn't done well, though. With so much to explore and uncover, the author stayed above the surface and plodded along; with a hundred more pages and some hefty editing, Sara Summers could have received the treatment her character deserves.
Profile Image for Ivana.
258 reviews66 followers
January 10, 2011
When Sara decides to take a trip to Florence, Italy, it is much more than a flight across the ocean. Merely, it’s a journey to rediscover herself in one of the most beautiful places in the world. There is more to this trip than to visit a place she has always dreamed about, but pushed the desire aside in favor of every day’s tasks; it’s about finding yourself again. The physical journey is a transition of life, living life from the top of her lungs and continue life from a point where it was broken apart years ago. Faced with her own fragility after years of being a safe haven for her husband and her three kids, Sara learns that it is okay to take care of herself, and that finding love where least expected is one of the beauties life offers.

Susan describes Sara’s marriage in an outstandingly realistic way, with a strong voice of a woman who is tired of patching up cracks in the façade when the foundations are wrong. Though not many women will experience the type of love Sara does (falling in love with the woman who was her best friend), the romantic component would embarrass many romance writers with its strength and warmth. Even if I hadn’t been to Florence, Susan’s descriptions of it would make me feel as if I was there, sensing the warmth of the sun and the sweet taste of Italian wine.

Seeking Sara Summers has that certain page-turning factor that keeps you reading well into the night without even realizing it. The sentences flow one after the other smoothly, never making you feel like putting effort into reading-the story just flows. It is also one of those books that, after you finished reading them, you feel inclined to write to the author and thank her for the beautiful story she created.
128 reviews
November 29, 2009
This is the story of middle-aged Sara Summers, a married woman with 3 kids who is in the midst of breast cancer and a marriage that is falling apart. She decides to go to Italy to visit her old best friend from high school (Julia) and ends up falling in love with her. Ultimately she must decide whether to go back to her old life or not.

So, this book was sort of like Under the Tuscan Sun, as most of the story takes place in Italy, and ultimately it's a story about Sara finding herself as well as new love in a new place. I enjoyed the plot and it was easy and fun to read.

Nonetheless, certain aspects seemed slightly rushed, such as when Sara suddenly finds herself "falling" for Julia- the jump from best friend to physical attraction felt out of nowhere, in a way. I could believe that Sara might suddenly find a woman attractive when she never has before, as I believe sexuality can be fluid, but I have a feeling other readers may have more difficulty with this jump. I wished for a little more introspection on Sara's part (there was some, I just wanted a bit more).

The ending is also slightly rushed. I don't want to spoil it here, but I wished for a little bit more story about what happened.

I won this as a First Reads win so there were a few small editorial issues, but I did enjoy the book overall.
Profile Image for Sara.
62 reviews
June 17, 2009
Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable book. There were several distracting instances where apostrophes were misused, and a couple of times where homonyms were mixed up, but they did not do much to detract from the story as a whole and I was able to get past them fairly quickly.

Part of what drew me to this story was the title. I am always happy to find characters with my name, spelled the way I spell it. Characters named Sarah are very common, those named Sara are hard to find. To have nothing else in common with the character is irrelevant to me - I'll read almost any book with a main character named Sara.

I do think that the jacket description gives away a little too much of the plot, which made the story itself rather predictable. Sara needs to discover who she is before she can decide what she wants, and this is Sara's journey of self-discovery. However, Sara's ultimate decision about her life, as well as her husband's revelation in the second-to-last chapter, are left as mysteries until the very end - something I really enjoyed. Keeping those two secrets until the last few pages of the book is a great way to end things.
Profile Image for Darlene.
1,688 reviews168 followers
November 15, 2010
I was SO disappointed. Not with the book, but that it ended! I wanted to read more. Could there be a part two where we can see a true growth in all the characters as they learn to not only accept what has happened in their lives but can see errors in their own thinking in the past.

I read many of the reviews who felt she put in too many details that may or may not relate to the story, but I loved those asides and feel if you can't handle that in such a small book, you might want to start reading short stories, for that is what this would be without some time spent in narrative. And as I have said in a previous review, reading these narratives actually made the story more realistic. It made me feel like I was living inside her head and seeing the world from her point of view. It is how you feel when you spend a week or so in someone else's home and seeing how other people deal with their surroundings and life.

This is the signed copy so I want to keep it. I have registered it with BookCrossing BCID: 367-8433930 I've written more about it on that site.
Profile Image for Pam.
47 reviews4 followers
July 23, 2012
This book was a short and easy read. Nothing complex about the plot, no surprises, and no twists or tricks.

...And I liked all of these things about it. This book is about a woman's transformation into a new person, and about how as much as she wants to experience this transformation, she is so stuck in the mindset that all she deserves is predictability and monotony, that she refuses to embrace new happiness at every turn.

When the main character, Sara, makes a spontaneous trip to Italy, she falls in love and is reborn. I am in love with the way that Susan Gabriel told this story. Although it is fiction, I think those of us that want more can see some of ourselves in Sara. We refuse to embrace the new for fear of change or because of fear that we don't deserve something better.

I really enjoyed this book. I needed a light and very simple story not complicated by layers. Just good story telling.
Profile Image for Sheryl_at_Ubookquitous.
102 reviews11 followers
October 25, 2016
Decent story, with good description and decent dialog, but overall, dealt with a big issue in a somewhat simplistic manner. I found myself wishing for a more in-depth delving into the relationships and the secondary characters response to the main story. A light read, more along the lines of a romantic story (but not a typical romance novel) than a drama.

Unfortunately, when the majority of LGBTQ novels are about coming out, many are bound to be boring, or in this case oversimplified. I'm not saying that all stories of this nature are bad because of the cliché but because of the clichéd treatment. Coming out is rarely a simple matter, and rarely a one-time experience. There have been far better stories and novels exploring that process than this one, and the shortcomings point to the need for more novels that aren't focused coming out, or for that matter, focusing only on sexual orientation.
Profile Image for Anne Alexander.
Author 1 book2 followers
September 30, 2015
I’ve read plenty of fiction in my life, everything from junky beach books to classic literature. I loved this book. Gabriel is a clever, funny, profound writer who quickly takes you into the inner world of her characters, while taking you on an external journey that keep you glued to the page. Sara’s character jumps from the pages and her transformation has impacted and inspired me. Big life changes in middle age are rarely easy and this novel treats the challenges intelligently. A classy love story with wonderful Italian setting and a really satisfying read.
Profile Image for Katie Somers.
1 review3 followers
July 23, 2014
I just wanted to say that I loved reading Seeking Sara Summers. I bought it Sunday night and was done reading it last night. I was looking for a book with a lesbian theme (not erotica) and stumbled upon this title. It was very good and refreshing to read one without all the erotica. As a lesbian, sometimes I am envious of all the romance type novels that the rest of the real world gets to read. So glad I found Seeking Sara Summers.
Profile Image for Dianne.
81 reviews1 follower
November 4, 2010
Tragedy, discovery, romance, travel, emotional breakthroughs-- what more can you ask of a short novel? I will say that this book was difficult to put down, yet at points difficult to read. I pray that I shall know what to do when the time comes and be courageous enough to make the necessary decisions to that end.

I would give this book 3 1/2 stars if I could.
Profile Image for Aileen Murphy .
37 reviews
February 28, 2011
I loved this woman. Especially at the beginning of the book, I feel the author did a great job of putting into words the emotions of a woman who has always done exactly what was expected of her, and is now realizing she has no idea of her own voice. I cried and felt her emotions and was so sad the book ended so quickly. A very enjoyable read...
Profile Image for Baxter Trautman.
Author 10 books84 followers
June 26, 2012
A mature and tender tale. Though it will appeal to readers of lesbian romance I hesitate to put it in that genre as it is also a heartfelt story of transformation. Sara Summers takes an unflinchingly honest look at her life so far and finds it wanting. Whether or not she will have the courage to change that lack is the heart of the story. Definitely an above average lesbian fiction read.
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