I’m going to be honest with you, bookish friends. I’ve had a hard time focusing on reading lately. With everything going on in the world, it seems like all I can do is obsessively watch the news, read the news, then worry, worry, worry. I’ve found myself wondering when I’ll ever feel the joy of getting lost in the pages of a delicious novel again. Then I picked up Amy Sue Nathan’s The Last Bathing Beauty.
The Last Bathing Beauty harkens back to 1951, when eighteen-year-old Betty Stern is enjoying her last summer working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. Ahead of her lies a bright future as a New York City college girl and the career she’s always dreamed of as a fashion editor. For now, her focus is on spending time with her two best friends, Georgia and Doris, competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant, and stealing away every moment she can with William Holden-lookalike Abe. Sixty-six years later, Betty—now known as Boop—receives an unexpected visit from her granddaughter, a visit that stirs up secrets from that fateful summer and memories that have been buried but not forgotten. It’s a novel of first loves, the bonds of friendship, and the power of decisions that shape our lives.
The beach has always done wonders for my soul, and this book set on the beach did the same. Every page is so drenched with the promise of summertime and the excitement of budding romance that I’d swear I lived these experiences right along with Betty, taking evening strolls to the arcade and gazing at fireworks on the boardwalk. The 1950s have always been one of my favorite time periods, and the details—from the penny loafers and dresses packaged in tissue to the families that flocked to resorts in the summer—transported me to an era that I desperately wanted to lose myself in. I adored Betty, both in girlhood and as the present-day Boop, and spending time with her family, her girlfriends, and her great love was the exact escape I needed.
Amy Sue Nathan is the kind of magnificent writer who can create a world you just want to curl up and live in for a while. That type of novel is one I’ll turn to time and time again, but especially now. For fans of the ‘50s, for fans of Dirty Dancing-esque summer loves, and for those in need of a seaside escape, I highly recommend this wonderful read. Self-isolating is a lot less isolating when you’re spending time with The Last Bathing Beauty.
The Last Bathing Beauty is out today! Order your copy from your favorite indie, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever you buy your books. For more on Amy Sue Nathan, visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Amy is a member of the incredible Tall Poppy Writers—be sure to check out their fabulous Facebook group, Bloom!
**I’m thinking of you all and hope you’re all staying safe and well. Sending lots of love and wishes for good health from my furry bathing beauty and me!**