Friday, September 21, 2018

"The Last Weekend of the Summer" by Peter Murphy

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
The Last Weekend of the Summer
by Peter Murphy

The Last Weekend of the Summer by Peter Murphy

The Last Weekend of the Summer by Peter Murphy is currently on tour with Providence Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.
A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, The Last Weekend of the Summer is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.

Excerpt
As the truck slithered to a halt on the gravel road, Susie and Joey took off. It was one of their cottage rituals, running to Gloria who stood waving from the veranda. For the last few years, Joey had let Susie win but had always made it look like he was running as fast as he could. Johnnie and Carol sat back and watched. They always gave the kids a few moments with Gloria before they joined them.
“So, what’s really going on?” Carol asked without looking over at him.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a little dark cloud hovering over your head.”
“Damn. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice it.”
“Come on, out with it.”
“Dad’s coming too. He’s coming sometime Saturday morning.”
“Does your mother know?”
“I don’t think so. Gloria wanted to break the news to everyone at the same time.”
“Oh dear, so Buddy doesn’t know yet?”
“No, and there’s more.”
There always was with his family, but Carol didn’t say that. Instead, she just sat for a moment taking it all in. And when he was finished, she squeezed his hand and leaned across to kiss his cheek. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Are you going to be okay?”
“Don’t worry about me; I’ll be fine. And we’re all going to have a great time, no matter what.” He smiled and winked at her. “Ready?”
“Showtime,” she smiled back, and she got out and walked towards the veranda. She knew what he was doing; he was getting himself ready for another weekend of enabling his sisters and his mother. She wished he wouldn’t, but there was no point in saying that. Instead, she’d be as loving and supportive as he needed her to be. It was how they dealt with life—along with having a laugh at themselves. “And stop checking out my ass,” she called over her shoulder as she went.
“Better yours than someone else’s,” Gloria laughed as she slowly descended the stairs from the veranda and kissed Carol’s cheek. She still had the most remarkable hearing. “That was something my Harry always used to say.”
“Really, Gloria, I wouldn’t have thought stuff like that would have been a problem for you guys.”
“He was blind, Carol, but he was still a man.”
Carol pretended to look shocked, but Gloria carried on as if she didn’t notice. “But you have nothing to worry about. Johnnie’s still madly in love with you, isn’t he, dear?” Gloria had a twinkle in her eye.
“Of course he is. And I’m still crazy about him—just don’t tell him.”
“I hope so, dear, because I put you two in the east room. I know it’s your favorite.”
“Thanks,” Carol took the old, brittle woman into her arms. “And are you okay, Gloria?”
“Of course I am. Why would you ask such a thing?” But she stayed in Carol’s arms for a little while longer.
“What are you two plotting?” Johnnie asked as he struggled up with their bags. “And don’t worry about me—I’ll just lug everybody’s stuff by myself.”
“And, well, you should,” Gloria reached up and kissed him, and hugged him as tight as her frail old arms would allow. “Your poor wife and children are here for a rest, so don’t be selfish and go around spoiling everything.
“So,” Gloria asked after Carol had gone to settle the kids into the new rooms over the boathouse. “Have you talked with your father?” She waited at the bottom step for Johnnie to take her by the elbow. She could have made it on her own, but she knew he liked to behave like a gentleman.
“Yes, and I hope he knows what he’s doing. It might be asking a bit too much.”
“Not of you, dear, surely?”
“No, I’m okay with it all, and I really want this to work out—for everyone. I was a bit torn up when I first heard, but it’s settled in now and, well, you know . . .”
“Yes, Johnnie, I do.” She smiled up at him and reached up to stroke his cheek. It always reminded her of Harry’s—at least his good side. “Being family means having to go through things like this, and we will all get to play our parts. Hopefully C.C.’s new love interest will provide enough distraction for your mother.”
She paused when they got to the top step and looked up at him for a moment as if she was about to say something else but changed her mind.
“What is it, Gloria? What other secrets are you keeping from me?”
“Far too many for what little time we have left. Now let’s go inside. I have some nice cold beer in the fridge. You might need some fortification before your mother gets here.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“Great story, love the ending, a surprise! Love that this book covers all age groups and their realistic daily problems.” ~ Jbarr5
“This is a well written story about a dysfunctional family with many secrets. […] There are many issues in this novel that a reading group could discuss and questions are included for that purpose. The story is plotted well and there is much for readers to think about at the end. Murphy's writing style is good.” ~ Joan N.
“Full of emotions, various personalities, it includes all age-groups making this a realistic family story. An ode to Summer, well-written read.” ~ SOMDReigel
“A story of hurt, anger, love and reconciliation among those we know best - Family. Well done!” ~ Laurie
“This wonderfully written book takes us on a journey of family drama, family love and family loss. Peter Murphys characters are well developed, diverse and engaging. The Last Weekend of the Summer is a great summer beach read.” ~ Donna M. Clerico

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


By Lynda Dickson
On this last weekend of summer, matriarch Gloria brings her whole family together, even a surprise guest. She says, “Perhaps it is a little selfish of me, but I wanted you all here with me this weekend. I wanted my entire family to be together once more, while there is still time.” Of course, they all think she must be dying, but the truth is even harder to take. It will be a difficult weekend because “when they were all together - it was like they stopped being who they really were and all became characters in some drawn-out soap opera.” Long-held resentments will surface, relationships will be tested, and old family secrets will be revealed.
The story is told in the third person point-of-view of every family member, bar the two youngest boys. It’s hard to keep up with whose head you’re in, and even the author must have had trouble keeping up because sometimes two points-of-view are included in the same section. The dialogue is often lacking in contractions, making it stilted and unnatural and pulling the reader out of the story. Nevertheless, the author explores a rich tapestry of relationships in this family where everyone initially appears unlikable but ends up revealing their redeeming features. This is just the kind of family drama I’ve been missing and craving.
The story is followed by “Reading Group Questions” and “A Conversation with the Author”.
Warnings: coarse language, drug use, sexual references, LGBTQ themes, suicide references.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“… when you sit back and take it all in, life is neutral. It’s up to us to look at it from whatever side we like.”
“Mary and Gloria were sitting at opposite ends of the table, as silent as bookends, each deep within their own thoughts.”
“You have the very rare gift of being able to compliment and insult at the same time.”
“You have always been a pain in the ass, and that alone makes you one of us.”
“… it is so easy to rationalize our own mistakes and just as easy to make too big a deal of the mistakes of others.”
“… that sounds far too much like self-pity. It may seem warm and comforting at first, but I have found that it is not unlike peeing in your pants. It is, ultimately, embarrassing.”
“If there is a lesson we can offer, then it should be that when you are in doubt, stop and think about how your mother or I might deal with it and do the opposite.”
“A mother’s role is really very simple. You just have to make everyone happy all the time.”
“… all families are just petri dishes for growing all kind of craziness. Yours is just that bit extra special crazy.”

About the Author
Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family had to move to Dublin. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for “The Wine and Gold.” He also played football (soccer) in secret! After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff, Paddy, Tommy, and Sean. Murphy financed his education by working summers on the building sites of London. He also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world.
But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while and ended up living there for more than thirty years. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to university, Murphy answered the long-ignored internal voice and began to write. He has published five novels so far and has begun work on a new one. Nowadays, he lives in beautiful Lisbon with his wife Eduarda and their well-read dog, Baxter.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Lagan Love by Peter Murphy.

Lagan Love by Peter Murphy

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