Category Archives: Historical (50s & 60s)

Review: The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

Title: The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Historical (60s & 70s), Coming of Age
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.


Weaving seamlessly between the 1960s and 1970s, The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall is an engrossing coming of age story full of family secrets and heartrending dysfunction.

Tallulah James and her siblings, Griff, Walden and Dharma live in the small town of Lamoyne, MS with their parents, Drayton and Margo. Tallulah is close to her grandmother who is the epitome of a traditional of Southern woman.  Margo and Drayton’s relationship is turbulent and they frequently engage in screaming fights that are often precipitated by Drayton’s wild mood swings and Margo’s frequent absences due to involvement in many causes and social activism. With Margo often flitting off to her next cause and Drayton sinking into dark depressions, Tallulah is tasked with raising the twins and with Griff’s help, keeping food on the table. Following a series of heartbreaking events, Tallulah sets off for California where she remains until a family crisis brings home.

Tallulah has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility where her family is concerned and she often blames herself when things go wrong. She is frustrated with Margo’s ease in leaving her family as she joins one cause after another. Equally troubling is the extreme unpredictability of Drayton’s moods which veer from extreme highs to debilitating depression with bouts of normality in between. As she and Griff grow older, the duties at home mostly fall on Tallulah as Griff becomes involved in activities that keep him away from their dysfunctional family life.

Although Tallulah leaves Lamoyne, she cannot quite escape the effects of  her childhood. She is closed off and finds it very difficult to open up about her past. Tallulah has managed to carve out a successful career that she dearly loves. However, it is not until she returns home after her brother ends up in serious trouble that she realizes how empty her life in California is. Upon her return to Lamoyne, Tallulah discovers disconcerting information that her grandmother has kept hidden and it is not until she presses her for answers that both women can begin healing.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer is a multi-generational novel that is absolutely compelling. Tallulah is a sympathetic character who is forced to grow up much too fast due to her chaotic home life. Her grandmother is quite dignified but her habit of sweeping problems under the rug is detrimental to herself and everyone around her. Throughout this captivating novel, Susan Crandall sensitively explores the long-term effects that undiagnosed mental illness, disinterested parenting and family secrets can have on family members.  This glimpse of life during an oppressive and tumultuous time in the South will linger in readers’ hearts and minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Gallery Books, Historical, Historical (50s & 60s), Rated B+, Review, Susan Crandall, The Myth of Perpetual Summer

Friday Feature: Blog Tour Stop, Book Review & Contest Susan Speranza’s The Tale of Lucia Grandi

Title: The Tale of Lucia Grandi (The Early Years) by Susan Speranza
Publisher: Brook House Press
Genre: Fiction, Historical (50s & 60s)
Length: 428 pages
Book Rating: B

Review Copy Obtained from Author


When an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life, she tells is an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving an irrational, warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. The narrative is told from Lucia’s perspective as the second child where she and her siblings are caught in the middle of a lifelong war between her mother, Ruth, an overbearing, unhappy homemaker, and her father, Leonard, a manipulative, sometimes violent New York City cop. Lucia is the silent, thoughtful eyewitness to her parents’ constant and sometimes life-threatening battle.

The story is told as a memoir; each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her siblings. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman, she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.

This timeless story of one woman’s courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it is powerfully and poignantly told.

The Review:

Spanning the first 22 years of Lucia Grandi’s life, Susan Speranza’s The Tale of Lucia Grandi is an intense and emotional novel. Although it is fiction, it is a very realistic story that is quite compelling.

The Tale of Lucia Grandi is, at times, a difficult story to read. Lucia Grandi’s childhood is tragic and she suffers horrific emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse from both her parents. Her relationship with her older sister Lynn is sibling rivalry at its worst as Lynn manipulates situations and events in her attempt to become the favorite child. All of this plays out against the backdrop of Lucia’s parents’ unhappy marriage. Their household is a battleground with her parents always on opposite sides of every issue.

There are startling moments of normalcy in Lucia’s childhood. She does have a few close friendships and their days are filled with typical children’s activities. Lucia’s relationship with her grandfather is quite heartwarming and his love for her is unconditional. It is his advice and love that guides her through some of her darkest moments.

But what I liked most about The Tale of Lucia Grandi are the lessons that Lucia learns from the terrible events that occur throughout her young life. She gains strength from adversity and she eventually begins to stand up for herself. The ending of the novel is more of a beginning as Lucia is forced to flee her family home. I am hopeful that Lucia will be able to finally break free of her dysfunctional family and find some much deserved happiness.

The Tale of Lucia Grandi is a well-written novel that is quite gritty and accurately depicts how dysfunction carries from one generation to the next. It is often heartbreaking, but Lucia is a survivor, and I am crossing my fingers that Susan Speranza plans to tell the rest of Lucia’s story in the future.

Author Bio:


…I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island where I had an interesting and creative childhood. Once in college, I studied Psychology and Philosophy, but since “thinking” didn’t translate into earning money or job security, I worked at a variety of different and unrelated jobs both in New York City and on Long Island.

In order to keep me sane through all the craziness of life, I spent my spare time writing. Anything and everything. The culmination of this was a fantasy – The City of Light – which has recently been reissued as an ebook.

I took up the hobby of dog showing and breeding and produced many Pekingese Champions. You can see them over at our Castlerigg Pekingese website.

Somewhere in the middle of my life so far, after a great personal upheaval, I went back to school, became a High School Librarian. I managed to fulfill my childhood dream of living in the country when I finally escaped suburbia and moved to Vermont where I now happily live with my beautiful Pekes.

But I’ve never stopped writing.

My biography (as with my life, I hope) is to be continued…

Find Ms. Speranza on the web: Website * Facebook * Twitter

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Filed under Blog Tour, Brook House Press, Contest, Historical (50s & 60s), Rated B, Review, Susan Speranza, The Tale of Lucia Grandi