The Summer We Started Over

A Novel

Hardcover

April 23, 2024 | ISBN 9780593724002

Ebook

April 23, 2024 | ISBN 9780593724033

About the Book

Two sisters reconnect and pursue their dreams on the beautiful island of Nantucket, overcoming life’s challenges and finding new love, in this heartwarming and hopeful novel by New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer.

Eddie Grant is happy with her life and her work as a personal assistant to Dinah Lavender, one of the most famous and renowned romance authors in the business. But being a spectator to notoriety and glamour isn’t as fulfilling as she once thought. Thankfully, Eddie has the perfect excuse for a vacation: Her hardworking younger sister, Barrett, is opening her gift shop on Memorial Day weekend, and could use all the help she can get. 

But going home to the beautiful island of Nantucket means facing the family’s difficult past. Shortly after the death of Eddie and Barrett’s brother, their mother left them and their father made the spontaneous decision to buy a small farm. Eddie stayed there for only a year before her family’s grief threatened to consume her as well, and had been living in Manhattan ever since. Now that she is back, Eddie must face all she left behind: her father’s increased eccentricities, which has led to a house bursting at the seams with books; her sister’s resentment over Eddie’s escape; and a past love connection, one that is still undeniable and complicated, all these years later. But the Grant sisters are nothing if not resilient and capable, opening a used bookstore in their father’s abandoned barn to manage his hoarding, and navigating the discovery of a long-buried family secret that will change all of them forever. 

In The Summer We Started Over, beloved storyteller Nancy Thayer transports readers with a moving story about family, courage, and the resiliency of young women.
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Praise for The Summer We Started Over

Praise for the Novels of Nancy Thayer


All the Days of Summer

“Bestselling author Thayer delivers another heartwarming story that fans will enjoy.”Booklist

“With richly drawn characters and a lush, gorgeous setting, Nancy Thayer sees straight into the heart.”—RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author of The Café at Beach End


Summer Love

“[Smells] of suntan lotion, the ocean breeze and that sweet summer spirit.”—N Magazine

“The next generation discovers the magic of the island in this big-hearted book so vivid you’ll almost be able to smell the ocean air as you turn each page.”E! News


Family Reunion

Family Reunion is a wonderful slice of life. Featuring true-to-life characters facing interesting—and challenging—family dynamics, as well as an incredible sense of place, this book is the ideal take-me-away beach read.”New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak
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Excerpt

The Summer We Started Over

One

Eddie Grant was surprised at how well her life had turned out, especially given what an eccentric family she’d come from.

Here she was, twenty-eight years old, living in Manhattan and making a six-­figure salary as a personal assistant to the famous and beloved romance writer Dinah Lavender. Eddie got to travel with Dinah, eat at posh restaurants with Dinah, wear fabulous clothes, and meet fascinating people.

And the work she was paid for? She made reservations at restaurants, booked airline tickets, chose between USPS and FedEx when mailing off Dinah’s giveaways, and fixed Dinah’s computer when it confused her, which usually involved little more than turning it off and back on. She knew how to hem a dress in a pinch, help correctly sign documents, post photos on social media, answer Dinah’s hundreds of emails, and keep her shelves of books—­the ones Dinah had written, over a hundred and growing—­in order. Eddie had created a list of essential phone numbers for Dinah: her editor, her agent, her publicist, her stylist, her therapist, Luigi’s Fine Liquors, and Big Tony’s Pizza. She’d added them to all three of Dinah’s cellphones so that all Dinah had to do was push a button. She’d consoled her when a character in one of her books died, and only once had she reminded Dinah that Dinah was the one who decided his fate.

Dinah worked hard, tapping away at her computer, pacing the floor at night talking to herself about what her heroine should do next, weeping in a perfumed bubble bath because she didn’t like her newest book’s cover. When Eddie first applied for the job of personal assistant, Dinah had stipulated that Eddie live with Dinah, because the writer often worked night and day. Dinah lived in a handsome apartment on Park Avenue. She had people who cleaned and cooked for her, but they didn’t live in. She had friends to dine out and go to the theater with, and she received loving letters and emails from readers around the country, but she didn’t seem to have anyone special in her life.

Eddie had her own gorgeous bedroom and en suite bath. When Dinah had appointments or lunches or dinners, Eddie had free time to visit the Met or the Guggenheim, to see a movie or go out with friends, but she would often simply lie in bed reading. She had a walk-­in closet filled with silk, cashmere, Hermès, Ralph Lauren, and Kate Spade. True, many of her clothes had been bought by Dinah for Dinah but she’d tossed them to Eddie before even wearing them. The two women were more or less the same size, although Dinah’s figure was substantially more hourglass.

Dinah was in her forties, and Eddie wondered why the writer had never married.

Maybe, Eddie thought, just maybe, Dinah, like Eddie, had fallen in love with a man who wanted more than she could give. Maybe Dinah was traveling all over the world and writing three books a year so she didn’t have time to think about the love that might have been.

The love that might have been—­now there was a Dinah Lavender title.

But Eddie had promised herself not to think of Jeff.

Instead, Eddie thought about her sister, Barrett, who wanted Eddie to come home to Nantucket for a few weeks. And Eddie wanted to go. So much.

First of all, Barrett was finally going to launch her shop, Nantucket Blues, on Memorial Day. It was a huge, exciting undertaking for Barrett. The summer residents would be flocking to the island, and so would the tourists. It would be an enormous help to Barrett if Eddie was around to assist by simply being there. Moral support, Eddie supposed it was called. They’d always been there for each other. Eddie could also help with their father, a handsome, intellectual man who had been so weakened by sorrow that he’d escaped to a farmhouse on Nantucket, brought his daughters with him, and hid himself away writing a book Eddie wasn’t sure he would ever finish.

Also, Eddie hadn’t had an actual vacation in two years. As luxurious and glamorous as life was with Dinah, Eddie still missed home. She missed walking on the beach at sunset and munching a Downyflake doughnut and exchanging glances with Barrett when their father said something hilariously bizarre. She missed sitting on the back porch with a cup of warm coffee in her hands while she sweet-­talked the horse, who would nicker with pleasure to hear her voice but canter away if Eddie tried to touch her.

On the other hand, Jeff was there.

Jeff was her age—­twenty-­nine—­an island man who owned his own small but successful contracting business. He was tall, handsome, and funny. He read books almost as voraciously as Eddie did.

They met because of a book he bought.

Eddie, her father, and her sister had just moved from western Massachusetts and the memories there. They’d settled in a big old farmhouse on Nantucket. Eddie found a job immediately, working as a clerk at Mitchell’s bookstore. Located in a historic brick building at the corner of Orange Street and Main, the shop was cozy, bright, and filled with books for every age. Eddie knew something about books—­she was passionate about reading, majored in English lit in college, and after graduating, worked for a year in New York, interning with an editor, which was Eddie’s dream job.

Or was it?

She’d been trying to figure that out when her mother left and her brother, Stearns, died, and the family fell apart. Eddie had given up her New York job to return to Williamstown and help her sister and father. Like them, she needed to be near her family to have the courage to continue. Helping them helped her keep up her courage.

After that terrible time, her father had resigned from his professorship at Williams College and sold their large and cluttered colonial house near the college observatory. Eddie and Barrett held secret whispered meetings and decided they had to move with him. They had to help him start again, and that would help them start again, too.

The chaos of packing and moving helped mask their grief and provided a much-­needed sense that they were doing something. The moving van, the ferry crossing, and the choice of rooms in the big old farmhouse, all that was healing. Still, their father remained despondent, hiding in his office, intending to write a book, and buying countless books for his research as if they were drugs.

It had been spring by the time they were settled in the house, and businesses were hiring. Barrett worked in retail and waitressed all day and babysat when she had time. Eddie took a full-time job at the bookshop. She felt the pressure of her age weighing on her—­she was twenty-­five, and ready to start her real life, if only she could decide what that was.

One day Jeff walked into the bookstore, a tall, tousle-­haired man in carpenters’ pants and a dark blue rugby shirt.

Well, now he looks interesting, Eddie thought.

He stopped walking. She couldn’t stop staring at him. She smiled. He smiled back at her, nodding as if accepting something.

Eddie said, “Hello.”

Jeff said, “Hey.” Coming closer to her, he announced, “I’m here to buy a book.”

“That’s good. We’ve got books. Lots of books.” She waved her hands like a magician’s assistant to demonstrate the shelves of books all around them. Settle down, she ordered herself. That’s not possible, her lovestruck self replied.

He took a few steps closer. “I need a gift book. Like a book of photos. Of Nantucket. For my father.”

“Where does he live?” Eddie asked.

“On Pine Street.”

“Oh, Pine Street on the island?”

Jeff was standing next to the counter with the computer. “Yeah, I know it seems odd to give him a book of photos about Nantucket when he lives here, but . . .”

Eddie leaned on the counter, gently pushing a pile of books aside. “I think it’s wonderful. It must be amazing to live in a place you love so much that you want a book about it.”

“Nantucket’s special.” He cocked his head. “You must be new here.”

He’d missed a spot shaving his smooth, tanned, beautiful neck. She wanted to reach out and touch it. “I am. New here. We just moved here two weeks ago.”

“We?” He drew back slightly.

“Oh, no, not that kind of ‘we.’ I’m not married. I moved here with my sister and my father. We moved to the farm off Hummock Pond Road.”

“Nice.” He was tall, broad-­shouldered, blue-­eyed.

She took a deep breath. “I’m Eddie Grant.”

“I’m Jeff.” He held out his hand. “Jeremiah Jefferson, actually, but Jeremiah makes me seem like a prim old Puritan wearing a hat with a buckle on it.”

“I doubt that anything could make you seem like a Puritan,” Eddie said, and shook his large, warm, callused hand.

About the Author

Nancy Thayer
Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer, The Island House, The Guest Cottage, An Island Christmas, Nantucket Sisters, A Nantucket Christmas, Island Girls, Summer Breeze, Heat Wave, Beachcombers, Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, and The Hot Flash Club. She lives on Nantucket. More by Nancy Thayer
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