In her sensual new novel, SUMMER PEOPLE, Piercy exchanges her panoramic canvas for a strikingly intimate one, focusing on the lives of three dedicated artists in a small Cape Cod community.
The “scandal” of the relationship between Dinah, Susan, and Willie has long since faded among the locals. Like all the yearrounders in the town where they have lived for ten years, the three tolerate a seasonal migration of summer people – like a cloud of outrageously plumed tropical birds come to chatter, to feed, to mate. For Dinah, an avant-garde composer, the invasion of these part-time visitors means that her peace will be shattered and her beloved woodlands despoiled. But Willie, a sculptor whose art is unfashionably political, makes his living renovating their cottages. And Susan, Willie’s wife, a fabric designer and passionate seeker of high style, eagerly awaits the arrival of summer people – especially Tyrone Burdock, the charming, manipulative financier across the pond-who offer her a warmly inviting world of elegant meals and sensitive conversation. Piercy explores that margin where artists mingle with
their patrons, where class and status bleach to invisibility in the blaze of sun on white sand, where behind the dark glasses, it is hard to tell who is conning and who is conned.
As always, Marge Piercy has created characters true to life among them Tyrone’s self-absorbed and adoring daughter, Laurie; Jimmy, her lover, who believes that sex is the grease that will cause any wheel to turn for him; Itzak, a brilliant musician torn between his desires for freedom and for stability; and Toby, “the Captain;’ who has lost his boat and his house to the IRS but means to scramble into success through any back door left unlatched. Above all, Piercy has beautifu1ly captured the texture of her characters Relationships to each other and to their times.
Entertaining and sharply focused, Marge Piercy’s SUMMER PEOPLE is a powerful modem parable of the struggle for a grounded and committed life, in which one has rewarding work, love and friendship, a sense of continuity with the past, and hope for the future.
“… the author display’s an old-fashioned narrative drive and a set of well realized characters permitted to lead their own believably odd lives… she can serve a meal, arrange a funeral, or make a Christmas in convincing detail.”
Thomas Mallon, NEWSDAY
“This reviewer knows no other writer with Piercy’s gifts for tracing the emotional route that two people take to a double bed, and the mental games and gambits each transacts there.” Ron Grossman, Chicago TRIBUNE
“…the relationship between the three individuals affords a perfect means of studying the tenuousness of any bonds of love. Piercy constructs artful novels that skillfully couch her intelligent observations of human behavior.”
Brad Hooper, BOOKLIST