Review: The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French

Title: The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In Colleen French’s heartfelt summer read, a Delaware oceanside cottage is the perfect setting for a season of surprising lessons about how much there is to gain—when you finally let go . . .

In the last two years, English professor Ellen Tolliver has weathered heartache with grace—including an unwelcome divorce and losing her parents. In her more honest moments, Ellen might admit that she’s sick of loss. She longs to stretch and grow, to truly fill her days. Maybe this year, she’ll have something to recount in her Christmas letter other than her son’s travel adventures. Maybe she’ll be too busy to even write a Christmas letter.

On impulse, Ellen invites her ailing best friend, Lara, to spend the summer with her at the Delaware beach house she inherited from her parents. Lara can relax on the big front porch after chemo while Ellen readies the house for sale. But Lara has plans too—she’d like to help Ellen discover who she is, or better yet, who she can still become.

At Lara’s urging, Ellen joins a local writer’s group, tries online dating, and mingles with the new friends Lara brings home from her support group. She forgoes white wine (won’t stain if you spill it!) for red and eats French fries for breakfast. She even flirts with the local bookstore owner, a handsome, sun-kissed, younger man. And as she embraces the freedom that comes with breaking her own rules, she wonders if it’s not just her past that lies in this beloved quirky town, but her future too . . .


The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French is a poignant novel of self-discovery and friendship.

English professor Ellen Tolliver is still getting over her divorce and the recent loss of both her parents. She is fairly staid and not exactly adventuresome or spontaneous. Ellen keeps her emotions tightly in check and does not deviate from her somewhat rigid rules and viewpoints. She is attempting to write a novel but she just cannot seem to settle on what story she wants to tell. With the summer looming ahead of her, Ellen plans to get the family beach house ready to put on the market. However, she learns right before departing that her lifelong best friend Lara’s cancer is no longer in remission. Ellen asks Lara to join her and she will take care of her as she undergoes chemotherapy.

Lara is much livelier and more outgoing than Ellen. She tries to prod Ellen out of her comfort zone, but she is not surprised at her friend’s refusal. Lara appreciates all of Ellen’s help and their friendship is very dear to her. But as she undergoes her chemo treatments, she meets an incredible group of diverse people who soon begin to rely on each other through their cancer journeys. They meet at Ellen’s beach house and while she is initially consumed with various worries, she soon becomes friends with them as well. It is through their friendship that Ellen begins to discover what living is all about.

The Summer I Found Myself is a very touching novel with an engaging storyline and idyllic setting. The cast of characters is rather eclectic and quite endearing. Ellen is initially not the most likable person but as she begins to loosen up, she becomes much easier to like. Lara and her new friends are a formidable group of very wise people. Colleen French brings heartwarming and emotional novel to a bit of an abrupt yet mostly satisfactory conclusion.

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