Ann Gordon – the eldest of the three Gordon children, is seventeen the year that everything changed for her family. This is the year that the family introduces their newest member to the family’s second home, an old saltbox style summer home on Outer Cape Cod near Wellfleet.
The family, who live in the Midwest, have been coming East for generations, and it has become a much treasured part of their life. This year however, Ann begins a babysitting job for a wealthy family. This job will have repercussions that last many years into the future…
Poppy Gordon – the youngest of the Gordon children, is only fifteen that disastrous summer. Feeling left out, with her sister off babysitting, and her adopted brother Michael busy, she befriends a girl on the beach who introduces her to the joy of surfing. Poppy becomes obsessed with the sport and makes it her life’s main interest, traveling around the world looking out for the best surf. Her new friends introduce her to drugs, drink, and unpredictability – a lifestyle she embraces.
Michael – the newest member of the Gordon family is insecure of his place in the family’s dynamic. He has had a very dysfunctional upbringing and has recently nursed his own mother until her death. Now he cannot believe his luck that this wonderful family would want him to be a part of their clan. Also, he feels very attracted to Ann Gordon – and it is not a completely ‘brotherly‘ attraction.
Now, fifteen years have passed since that fateful summer. The siblings have become estranged and the parents have both died in a traffic accident.
Ann and her teenage son Noah, have returned to Cape Cod to sell the old house. She has been in touch with Poppy who goes along with her plan. Michael learns of the imminent sale and protests. He has always loved the old house and wants to buy out his adopted sisters. Ann has not been able to find the Gordon parents’ will so legally the whole issue is murky to say the least.
Hireath is the word that sprang to mind when reading this novel. The feeling of longing and nostalgia for the places of your past. All three protagonists feel it to some extent.
This debut novel was skillfully written and though I didn’t always agree with the characters they all became important to me and I felt invested in the outcome of their lives. Told via three narrators, giving the perspectives of all three Gordon siblings, the story gave a well-rounded view of how each of them felt.
The setting was for me quite idyllic. I have a personal strong affinity for settings near the ocean, so found the Cape Cod setting sublime.
The title was extremely apt as the old Wellfleet, Cape Cod house was the Gordon’s ‘second home’ AND it was Michael’s second chance at a family so was his second home as well. Of the three siblings, my personal favorite was Michael.
The story delved into many themes. Family secrets, miscommunication, betrayal, familial love, place attachment, emotional manipulation, loneliness, and heartbreak. The ending of the book was a very satisfying conclusion to the family drama.
I loved my time spent on Cape Cod with the Gordon clan and I expect I’ll remember it for quite some time. It was a tale of complex family dynamics and strong and unique characters. I found “The Second Home” to be a very enjoyable read and can confidently recommend it to others.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.
Publication date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250239341 ASIN: B07XBBXJWS 352 pages
If you are reading “The Second Home” for a bookclub, there is a Discussion Guide that is provided in .pdf formatChristina Clancy lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband John. She has two grown kids, Olivia and Tim. When not writing she is a certified spin instructor, and she serves on the board of Wisconsin Conservation Voters.
In 2011, she received her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She previously taught creative writing at Beloit College.
“The Second Home” is her debut novel and her second novel, “Shoulder Season” is due to be published in 2021.
Follow Christina Clancy on Twitter.