Category Archives: Nicola Harrison

Review: Montauk by Nicola Harrison

Title: Montauk by Nicola Harrison
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: 394 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An epic and cinematic novel by debut author Nicola Harrison, Montauk captures the glamour and extravagance of a summer by the sea with the story of a woman torn between the life she chose and the life she desires.

Montauk, Long Island, 1938.

For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city.

College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.

As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.

Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…


Set in 1938, Montauk by Nicola Harrison is a bittersweet historical novel with a picturesque setting.

Beatrice “Bea” Bordeaux is excited about spending the summer with her husband, Harry, in Montauk. Her delight quickly turns to disappointment once she discovers Harry will only be with her on weekends.  She is also less than thrilled with his edict to get close to the other wives  in order to further his business aspirations. The less time she and Harry spend together, the more Bea realizes the troubles in their marriage extend well beyond her inability to conceive. Finding herself at loose ends, Bea strikes up an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth, a local woman who works as laundress to the wealthy summer visitors. Bea also finds herself drawn to Montauk Lighthouse where she is fascinated and charmed by lighthouse keeper Thomas Brown. With summer’s end fast approaching, will Beatrice return to New York with Harry? Or will she remain on the island where she has unexpectedly found happiness?

Beatrice is no stranger to tragedy but she has been relatively happy since marrying Harry.  From a small Pennsylvania town, she has never quite fit in the wealthy world she inhabits but she fulfills her hostess duties with aplomb. Beatrice longs for a baby but despite following her doctor’s advice, she remains childless. Even before arriving in Montauk, she is worried about her marriage and she is quite upset to learn Harry will be staying in town during the week.  Pushing aside her dismay, Bea attempts to fit in with the other wives, but her dissatisfaction at their lavish and somewhat frivolous pursuits ignites a yearning in her for something more meaningful in her life.

Bea finds what she is searching for in a most unanticipated place. In spite the of the risks, she cannot stay away from the lighthouse and Thomas.  Her time with him and Elizabeth reminds her of her childhood and she is thoroughly captivated by Thomas who has also experienced more than his fair share of heartache. As Bea’s time in Montauk draws to an end, she will have to decide between duty and happiness.

Set against the idyllic backdrop of the beach resort and lighthouse, Montauk is an enthralling historical novel. Montauk, the lighthouse and its habitants spring vividly to life and it is quite easy to visualize the peaceful surroundings.  Bea, Elizabeth and Thomas are vibrantly crafted characters who are quite likable and easy to root for.  Bea’s gradual realization that she needs more in her life is realistically portrayed as is her angst as she tries to make the right choice for her future.  Nicola Harrison brings this poignant novel to a somewhat dramatic and completely unpredictable conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this alluring story to readers of historical fiction.

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Filed under Historical, Historical (30s), Montauk, Nicola Harrison, Rated B+, Review, Women's Fiction