The Summer Wives

In 1956, Grace Metalious rocked the literary world with the publication of her best-seller “Peyton Place” which told the story of sexual misdeeds among the

seemingly proper residents of a quiet, conservative New England town.

In like manner, Beatriz Williams has written a novel exposing the scandalous behavior of wealthy protestant families who spend their summers on the fictitious Winthrop Island in “The Summer Wives.” (William Morrow, 367 pages)

The Families, as the well-to-do are called, spend their time socializing and sailing the waters off of the beautiful island of Winthrop, which is also home to another social class — the less fortunate sons and daughters of Portuguese immigrants who man the lobster boats and clean the lovely summer homes of the wealthy patricians.

Social convention dictates that the two classes do not mingle — but they do in secret as the occasional upper-class “gentleman” may devote his summer to seducing young Portuguese women.

Against this backdrop of seduction and betrayal, one of the island’s most prominent citizens, Hugh Fisher, is murdered by Joseph Vargas whose family manned the local lighthouse.

In 1969, fifteen years after the murder of her stepfather, Miranda Schuyler, now a successful actress, returns to the island from England.

Coincidentally, Joseph Vargas, the convicted killer of Hugh Fisher, has escaped from prison. As the chapters progress, the secrets surrounding Hugh Fisher’s death are revealed in this updated “soap opera” which fans of this genre may wish to pack in with their beach towel and sunscreen.