The Last Summer of the Camperdowns: A Novel

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As the summer unfolds, the consequences of her silence multiply. Another mysterious and powerful family, the Devlins, slowly emerges as the keepers of astonishing secrets that could shatter the Camperdowns. As an old love triangle, bitter war wounds, and the struggle for status spiral out of control, Riddle can only watch, hoping for the courage to reveal the truth. Related Posts. Books Are ex-boarders amongst the most challenging clients for therapists? Subscribe for Updates. Whose account of the war do you believe? Who do you think Greer loved more? Do you think this is the most consequential secret of the book?

What other secrets cause grave consequences? How does the first chapter, set in the present, frame the rest of the novel that is set in the past? When the novel returns to the present in the epilogue, how have your feelings for Riddle changed from the beginning of the book? How does her perspective influence the story?

Do you trust her as a narrator? Why or why not? Why do you think Riddle kept what she saw in the yellow barn a secret for so long? How was Gula able to manipulate Riddle to stay silent? What drove Riddle to finally reveal the truth? Celebrating 25 Years! It seemed very real to me.

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The Last Summer of the Camperdowns : Elizabeth Kelly :

I have read a lot of reviews on here about people not understanding why Riddle didn't tell anyone about Charlie's murder right away, but to me, it made total sense. To me, overall, this book was about relationships. And I loved every single one of them. The main one, for me, being the relationship between mother and daughter, as I mentioned.

I seriously laughed aloud so many times reading the dialogue between Riddle and Greer. But I also loved the character of Camp. I loved how he stuck up for Riddle. I love how he loathed and also respected Greer. I loved how Riddle looked up to him as her hero in a way, while also acknowledging that he was human and had some flaws she never did seem to understand how he held so much hatred for Michael Devlin, or for his kids.

The relationship between Greer and Gin was wonderful and hilarious and straight out of a comedy movie. I loved how Camp disliked Gin and saw him for what he was, but also knew he was harmless and humoured him in a certain way. I even loved the relationship between Mirabel and Greer. It all seemed so real to me. That's how each person would have acted around each other. It made sense to me. The relationship between Riddle and Harry was sweet. Any girl can look back to when they were 13 and find something familiar in that.

I know I have used the word 'love' a lot in this review, but it really was a wonderful book and is one of those books that I will re-read again each summer. I often write down great lines of dialogue in a notebook, witty quotes that I like, that make me laugh and think and by page 5, I realized that I didn't have a notebook big enough for all the great lines in this book.

If I had to pick one thing that I didn't like, and I'm reaching here There was an epilogue, but I wanted more.

I think what I want is a separate book that follows Riddle. She was such a wonderful character. I am still thinking about her hours after I finished the book. Everyone, please. Go read this book. Nov 23, Mark rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. I was tempted to give this three stars, given the incandescent writing and sardonic dialogue, along with vividly imagined characters, but my struggle with the primary character and premise of the book nudged it down to two stars for me.

In this novel, the protagonist is early teen Riddle Camperdown, living in a wealthy enclave on Cape Cod in the 70s. Her father Godfrey, better known as "Camp," is a wealthy, bigger than life, pro-union Congressional candidate. Her mother, Greer, is a former film and stage star who is still devastatingly beautiful and has the tartest tongue this side of the Mississippi. They live next to a horse-owning piece of moral vacuity named Gin, who has hired a mysterious European trainer, Gula, and it is his relationship with Riddle named for Jimmy Hoffa's middle name that drives the book.

Gin lives on an estate once owned by Michael Devlin, a rakishly handsome, inherited wealth fellow who, it turns out, not only served in WWII with Camp, but was supposed to marry Greer until it fell apart right before the wedding. Early in the story, Michael's younger son Charlie disappears, and Riddle knows something about this. Having wandered into a stable on Gin's property, she hears a scuffle and a boy's cries, and then encounters the creepily malevolent Gula for the first time. The book revolves around the fact that Riddle for months and months won't tell anyone about what she saw and heard that day, even after she herself discovers Charlie's remains in a swamp, and when she finally does reveal her secret, it leads to the book's melodramatic finish, all of which is related to a mysterious incident that occurred during WWII and involved both Godfrey and Michael.

I could certainly understand how a young woman would have trouble telling her secret after she had kept it for too long -- but I never could figure out why Riddle kept the secret in the first place. She is petrified by Gula, but for me, all the more reason to spill the beans to the father she idolized. The plot's development depends on her acting this way, but it never resonated with me. I also thought Kelly had a muddy vision of who Riddle was -- on the one hand, a scared, unsure, out of place young girl in a family of luminaries; on the other, a kid who constantly challenged her mother and was almost as decisive with a quip as Greer.

These two Riddles made her, well, a riddle, and if Kelly chose that name deliberately, it certainly struck me that way, but not to the effect she probably wished. So -- great characters, sizzling dialogue, some gripping plot elements -- told through the eyes of a character I could never figure out. Jun 30, Pattie rated it really liked it. This is an extremely well written, multi-layered book.

At times it is laugh out loud funny and, at other times, the walls the characters have built around themselves are so high it is difficult to penetrate. The main character, Riddle, witnesses by sound not sight, a terrible incident but does not come forward. She lives with this knowledge and it changes her throughout the summer.

That same summer things are unraveling between her parents as her bombastic father runs for political office while This is an extremely well written, multi-layered book.


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That same summer things are unraveling between her parents as her bombastic father runs for political office while trying to keep a secret about his past military service and her mother a former award-winning actress contends with an old flame. The parents are extremely well written and can be visualized quite clearly. Riddle adores her father and tolerates her mother, seeming to feel she could never be the beautiful, well-put-together person her mother is at every moment in time.

She chooses to go for her father's affection as he is the tough, pick yourself up and dust yourself off person who thinks he can change the world by the loudness of his voice and the strength of his conviction. The character of Greer Camperdown, Riddle's mother, the chain-smoking, acid-tongued, gorgeous ex-actress is truly a masterpiece. She is vividly written and practically leaps off the page. She is a fabulous invention and if this book were to ever be made into a movie, she would be the most critical character to be accurately cast.

There are some secondary characters who are also quite enjoyable as well, either through their creepiness or their over-the-top humorous characterizations both of which help move the story along at critical moments. As the dynamics of the novel shift and turn, the reader rides along with Riddle, willing her to come forward with the knowledge she is keeping inside. Of course, we learn from the very first pages that she will not do so, but as a reader there are a few frustrating moments when you want to shake her and tell her to speak up NOW!

This novel gets bogged down a couple of times but overall the quality of the writing and the depth of the characters shines brightly. Elizabeth Kelly is a true talent and I will definitely be on the lookout for her future books. Jun 28, Maggie rated it liked it Shelves: This book read sort of like a watered down Atonement, the story of a young girl who witnesses something she doesn't quite understand and the trouble that follows as she decides what to do with that information.

The main problem with this book is the language. I'm supposed to believe a thirteen year old girl knows whole hosts of words that I've never even heard used before and that they seamlessly roll off her tongue with the appropriate amount of wit to serve the appropriate amount of bite just This book read sort of like a watered down Atonement, the story of a young girl who witnesses something she doesn't quite understand and the trouble that follows as she decides what to do with that information. I'm supposed to believe a thirteen year old girl knows whole hosts of words that I've never even heard used before and that they seamlessly roll off her tongue with the appropriate amount of wit to serve the appropriate amount of bite just when it's needed?

Kelly may have a lofty vocabulary but it doesn't seem organic to the characters in the book. The characters are the next problem. Not only are they totally unlikable, which isn't an unforgivable offense, every single one of those characters is not relatable in any way. The plot moves too slowly and too much is revealed in the beginning, making you wait hundreds of pages for anything to move forward. The ending is certainly a fun, surprising twist, but not worth the time it took to get you there. A so-so read that has been lauded as a well written, and yet still fun summer kind of read.

I wouldn't agree with either of those descriptions. Jul 28, Janet rated it did not like it. I'm sorry, I love a metaphor as much as the next guy but "pulleeese" the amount of them in this book just distracted and bogged me down.

Elizabeth Kelly

I was so restless as I forced my way through the first 90 pages. I know Riddle saw? I give up. Life is too short to waste it force feeding yourself a book that is not "assigned" reading. I don't even care to know what the mystery that is alluded to in the first chap I'm sorry, I love a metaphor as much as the next guy but "pulleeese" the amount of them in this book just distracted and bogged me down. I don't even care to know what the mystery that is alluded to in the first chapter is ever revealed to me.

There are too many great books out there crying to be read. Mar 22, Jess rated it it was amazing. Loved this book! Once I started I literally couldn't put it down. The way she weaves the story is fascinating, and the language she uses builds the writing into one of the best I've read on a while. I often think about my rating as i read, and this one never went below four and a half stars. By the end I couldn't given this anything less than five. Highly recommend this one! Dec 21, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , books-i-own , booktopia I loved everything about this book.

It was a perfect blend of everyday life and mystery. I felt as if I really got to know the Camperdowns and all their acquaintances. Kelly wrote it in such a way that I didn't feel like I was stuck in a bad 70s movie. It could've just as easily taken place today. I cannot wait to meet this author and discuss the ending of the novel. Jan 16, Karen rated it really liked it Shelves: booktopia I couldn't put this book down! The characters are larger than life and will stay with me along time. So much to talk about, can't wait to meet the author in April. Jan 14, Shara rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed , first-reads , loaned-out.

Note: I won this book as a Goodreads. Riddle me this At 12 years old she witnesses a crime but doesn't tell a soul. As her parents seem to become more distant Her father is in politics and her mother still star struck she begins to fall in love with Harry Delvin. The son of her fathers once best friend. As the year goes on, Riddle learns more truths and secrets, but does she keep her secret or finally tell someone?

I started reading the first few pages and was worried that I wouldn't get into it. There was a lot of description and I always seem to loose focus was a novel has too much detail. I get lost in the detail and forget what I was reading, but after a while I adjusted to the novel and the pages just flew by. I also think I've become just that much more smart after reading this. There were words that I never even heard of and actually had to look up! At times I forgot that Riddle was only 12 because of the vocabulary that was used.

I enjoyed The Last Summer of the Camperdowns. I was intrigued by how fear can prevent people from doing the right thing. I kept wondering when and if Riddle would do the right thing. Was there more to Greer Riddle's mother and Michael Harry's father than meets the eye? Who really was behind the biggest crime that shook the a little town of Wellfleet.

What I liked most, is the story went fully circle. I still have a few questions that went unanswered, but I have my theories. Oct 14, Bobbi rated it really liked it. Elizabeth Kelly has written a fascinating book about some of the most interesting characters I've come across in quite some time.

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Her use of descriptive language is awe-inspiring, as shown in the following examples: ". And her vocabulary! I've always thought mine was rather extensive, but I read much of this book needing to look up words such as "abseiling," "louche," and "etiolated. I would normally be unhappy with an author who took me out of a story to search for definitions, but I never had that reaction, which surprised me, and is a testament to her writing talent.

An unusual book, to say the least, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I really, really liked this book. This author did such a fantastic job of building ALL of the characters in this story.

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From the pontificating war vet Godfrey Camperdown, to the gorgeous, retired-in-her-prime movie star Greer Camperdown, to the 13 year old Riddle, who is the main protagonist. Even down to the neighbors and casual acquaintances. She captures the time period and electricity of authenticity. Her prose were just lovely He served up endless rounds of proclamation and intimidation, each garnished with a spritz of soda and a wedge of lime. He liked fizz. Try to imagine North Korea: The Musical and you might begin to understand the ruthless carbonated foundation on which Godfrey Camperdown was built.

I might as well have been born with a pistol in my hand, firing furiously at the floor, ordering life to dance. It had mystery, humor, action and all under the meanings of growing up, finding your voice and what family looks like for each of us. Apr 18, Wendy rated it it was amazing Shelves: first-reads. Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. The entire time I was sitting with this novel, I found myself checking the cover to check that this book wasn't actually written by F.

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I have never come across a tale that could have most certainly been penned by one of the classic masters. Set in Massac Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. Set in Massachusetts during the summer of , this is the story of a 13 year old girl who is smack dab in the middle of her father's political campaign when she is the witness to an unspeakable crime. She tells no one and quickly realizes this is a trait she has inherited from her parents as the family secrets come pouring out.

Kelly's prose is exquisite and her audience captivated by a story that is bound to become a bestseller.


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Jun 18, Rebekah rated it it was ok.