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The Days of Summer

The Days of Summer

4.8 6
by Jill Barnett

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In 1957, the Banning family leads a life of privilege, wealth and domestic unhappiness. At the head of this California dynasty is oil magnate Victor Banning, a man of great power and even greater obsessions, who is determined to teach his son and grandsons to be predators in his dog-eat-dog world.
Jimmy Peyton is a rising star in the music business, a young man


In 1957, the Banning family leads a life of privilege, wealth and domestic unhappiness. At the head of this California dynasty is oil magnate Victor Banning, a man of great power and even greater obsessions, who is determined to teach his son and grandsons to be predators in his dog-eat-dog world.
Jimmy Peyton is a rising star in the music business, a young man with a bright future and no connection to the Bannings, until the fateful night their cars collide on a Los Angeles street, changing the lives and future of two innocent families.
Laurel Peyton, Jimmy's daughter, has lived her entire life in the shadow of grief. Though her mother, Kathryn, struggled to keep her daughter safe and secluded after the terrible accident that ruined their family, she cannot guard against the one danger she never expected: Love.
In 1970, Victor's grandsons, Jud and Cale, meet the beautiful and spirited Laurel, and these two families cross paths once again, this time on a passionate course that pits brother against brother and mother against daughter--a clash of wills that gradually draws them all closer to the truth of their tragic connection.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the years since her last romance, 2002's Sentimental Journey, Barnett has grown rusty; chronicling three generations of Banning men and Peyton women through the years, Barnett depends on busyness and happenstance to take the place of solid plot and genuine relationships. The two SoCal families first intertwine in 1957 when Rudy Banning kills himself; his artist wife, Rachel; and the rock star Jimmy Peyton in a car accident. The Bannings leave behind two preteen sons, who go into the care of wealthy, demanding patriarch Victor Banning. Jud, the elder son, goes into the family business while Cale, a reckless skirt chaser, takes a winding path to med school. Improbably, Cale meets Jimmy Peyton's daughter, Laurel, on a beach in 1970, but Laurel also catches Jud's eye and soon comes between them. A growing pile of plot-propelling coincidences stretch believability: Laurel's grandmother unknowingly purchases some of the late Rachel's art; years later, Laurel's grown daughter wins a design contract with Cale's son; and everyone hides secrets. It's pure soap opera, buttressed only by Barnett's stock observations ("[S]ilence between people said more than words ever could"), but it may suit readers who like their heroes attractive and their endings happy. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Barnett's (Sentimental Journey) first novel in four years, the effects of a car accident reverberate across three generations and 45 years. In 1957, drunk financier Rudy Banning kills himself, his wife, and two others when his car plows into a musician's station wagon. Banning leaves two young boys to be raised by their tyrannical grandfather. The musician's widow, Kathryn Peyton, would have committed suicide except for her four-year-old daughter, Laurel. Thirteen years later, brothers Cale and Jud Banning are rivals, their powerful grandfather having pitted them against each other. Both men fall for Laurel when they meet on Catalina, and she's torn between them until a tormented Kathryn reveals the truth about the Banning relationship to the Peytons. Laurel's decision to flee will change everyone's lives. When a building project brings Laurel's daughter and Cale's son together years later, Laurel must decide to make peace with the past or allow her mother's obsession with the Bannings to destroy another generation. This absorbing romance is filled with engaging characters whose eventual maturity changes the course of family history. Their lives are all changed, not only by time, but by the relationships they formed when they were young. It's unusual for a romance reader to have the opportunity to observe the changes in characters over a long period of time, and Barnett handles the span of time with skill. Highly recommended for public libraries collecting romance. Lesa M. Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A highly contrived romantic saga set in sumptuous Southern California brings together successive generations of two families after a definitive car accident. The booze flows and the Dave Brubeck tunes wail at an L.A. party for artist Rachel Espinosa and her husband, Rudy Banning, sometime in the late 1950s. Angry and drunk, Rudy, the heir to the Banning oil fortune, takes off with Rachel in the car and slams into oncoming traffic, killing them and in the other car, famous singer Jimmy Peyton and his manager. The accident leaves Banning's two boys, Cale and Jud, orphans in the care of their formidable grandfather, Victor Banning, who single-handedly built his fortune. Peyton's widow, Kathryn, is left with a small daughter, Laurel; they move first into Jimmy's mother's home in L.A., then, when Laurel is 17, to the island of Santa Catalina, where, it so happens, the Bannings have a vacation house and boat. Now it is 1970, and the youths are on spring break-Laurel manages unsuspectingly to meet first Jud, who works in his grandfather's business, then Cale, who is applying unsuccessfully to medical school. Cale and Laurel fall in love, though the autocratic Victor forces Cale to give Laurel up in exchange for his underhandedly arranged acceptance to med school. With his brother out of the way, Jud moves in on Laurel, and Cale feels betrayed-and holds a grudge for the next 30 years. The novel's next section reintroduces the same protagonists in new configurations: Laurel is a chef, now divorced, with a grown daughter, while Cale is a widowed heart surgeon with two sons. The outcome couldn't be more hackneyed, as eligible bachelor Jud courts divorced Laurel, who then turns to Cale for-whatelse?-heart surgery. Pallid novel that banks on flimsy contrivance.
From the Publisher
"Top-Ten Beach Read." — Kirkus Reviews

"A splendid novel, the kind you'll want to read more than once." — Catherine Coulter

"Passionate, intense, gloriously dramatic storytelling — just what readers have been waiting for." — Jayne Ann Krentz, bestselling author of All Night Long

"Intense and compelling.... A story you won't be able to put down, one you'll want to talk about long after you've finished the last pages." — Kristin Hannah, bestselling author of Magic Hour

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Read an Excerpt

The Days of Summer

A Novel
By Jill Barnett


Copyright © 2006 Jill Barnett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0671035355

Chapter One

Southern California

Warm and motionless nights were natural in LA, a place where so much of life was staged and the weather seldom competed for attention. Here, events and people stood in the limelight. On most nights, somewhere in the city, searchlights panned the sky; tonight, in front of the La Cienega Art Gallery. All the art show regulars were there in force, names from the society pages, old money and new, along with enough existentialist poets and bohemians to fill every coffeehouse from Hollywood to Hermosa Beach.

Well-known art critics chatted about perspective and meaning, debated social message. They adored the artist, a vibrant, exotic woman whose huge canvases had violent splashes of color charging across them, and wrote about her work in effusive terms as bold as the work itself, likening her to the abstract expressionists Pollock and de Kooning. Rachel Espinosa was the darling of the LA art scene, and Rudy Banning's wife.

Rudy came to the show late, after drinking all afternoon. His father was right: he was a sucker -- something that was easier to swallow if he chased it with a bottle of scotch. The searchlights were off when he parked his car outside the gallery. Once inside, he leaned againstthe front door to steady himself.

A milky haze of cigarette smoke hovered over the colorless sea of black berets, gray fedoras, and French twists. In one corner, a small band played an odd arrangement of calypso and jazz -- Harry Belafonte meets Dave Brubeck. The booze flowed, cigarettes were stacked every few feet on tall silver stanchions, and the catering was Catalan -- unusual -- and done to propagate the lie that his wife, Rachel Maria-Teresa Antonia Espinosa, was pure Spanish aristocracy. This was her night, and her stamp was on the whole production.

She stood near the back half of the room, under a canned light and in front of one of her largest and latest pieces, Ginsberg Howls. The crowd milled around her, but most managed to stay a few feet away, as if they were afraid to get too close to such an icon. A newspaper reporter for the Los Angeles Times interviewed her, while a staff photographer with rolled-up shirtsleeves circled around her, snapping photos with sharp, blinding flashes.

Rachel turned on for the camera, striking a carefully choreographed pose Rudy had seen before: arm in the air, a martini glass with three cocktail onions in her hand. Tonight she wore bright orange. She knew her place in this room.

Rudy helped himself to a drink from a cocktail tray carried by a passing waiter, then downed the whiskey before he was ten feet away from her. She didn't see him at first, but turned with instinctive suddenness and looked right at him. What passed between them was merely a ghost of what had been -- the days when one look across a room could evaporate everything around them. His wife's expression softened, until he set his empty drink on a passing tray and grabbed another full one, then raised the glass mockingly and drank it as she watched him, her look so carefully controlled.

"Darling!" Rachel said quickly, then turned to the reporter. "Excuse me." She rushed forward hands outstretched. "Rudy!" When he didn't take her hands, she slid her arm through his and moved toward a corner. "You're late."

"Really?" Rudy looked around. "What time was this charade supposed to start?"

"You're drunk. You reek of scotch." She pulled him away from the crowd.

"Are you trying to shove me off into a corner? I'm six foot four. A little hard to hide." Rudy stopped bullishly and turned so she was facing the room. "You crave attention so much. Look. People are staring."

"Stop it!" Her voice was quiet and angry.

"I know, Rachel."

"Of course you know. No one force-fed you half a bottle of scotch." Her deep breath had a tired sound. "Dammit, Rudy. Do you have to ruin everything?"

"You bitch!"

Her fingers tightened around his arm. Murmurs came from those nearby, and people eased closer.

"I know," he said with emphasis. The music faded and the room quickly grew quiet. Rudy had the laughable thought that if it wasn't a show before, it certainly was one now.

"What are you talking about?"

Apparently lying and persona were all that was left of the woman he'd married. Strange how confronting her felt nothing like he'd imagined. "You want me to shout it? Here? For everyone?" He waved his hand around. "For that reporter, darling?" His breath was shallow, like he'd been running miles. His vision blurred around the edges, and the taste of booze lodged in his throat. "I will shout it to the world. Damn you. Damn you, Rachel!" He threw his drink at the painting behind her, and the glass shattered in a perfectly silent room. He stumbled out the front door into the empty night air. At the curb, he used the car's fin to steady himself, then got inside.

Rachel came running outside. "Rudy!"

He jammed his key in the ignition.

She pulled open the passenger door. "Stop! Wait!"

"Go to hell."

She crawled inside and tried to grab the keys. "Don't leave."

Rudy grabbed her wrist, pulled her across the seat until her face was inches from his. "Get out or I'll drag you with the car." He shoved her away and started the engine.

"No!" She closed her door and reached for the keys again.

His foot on the gas, the car raced down the street, straddling lanes as he struggled for control. Tires screeched behind them, but he didn't give a damn.

"Rudy, stop!" She sounded scared, so he turned the next corner faster. The car fishtailed and he floored it again. She hugged the door and seemed to shrink down into someone who actually looked human, instead of a goddess who painted intricate canvases and saw the world with a mind and eye unlike anyone else's. Ahead the stoplight turned red. He slammed on the brakes so hard she had to brace her hands on the dashboard.

"You're driving like a madman. Pull over and we can talk."

"There it is again, Rachel, that calm voice. Your reasonable tone, so arrogant, as if you are far above the rest of us mere mortals because you don't feel anything."

"I feel. You should know. I feel too much. I know you're upset. We'll talk. Please."

"Upset doesn't even come close to what I am. And it's too fucking late to talk." The light turned green and he floored it.

"Rudy, stop! Please. Think of the boys," she said frantically.

"I am thinking of the boys. What about you? Can you ever think about anyone but you?" He took the next corner so quickly they faced oncoming traffic, honking horns, the sound of skidding tires. A truck swerved to avoid them. It took both of his hands to pull the careening car into his own lane. At the yellow signal, he lifted his foot off the gas to go for the brake, paused, then stomped on the accelerator. He could make it.

"Don't!" Rachel shouted. "It's turning red!"

"Yeah, it is." He took his eyes off the road. "Scared, Rachel? Maybe now you'll feel something." Her whimpering sound made him feel strong. His father was wrong. He wasn't a weak fool. Not anymore. The speedometer needle shimmied toward seventy. The gas pedal was on the floor. He could feel the power of the engine vibrate through the steering wheel right into his hands.

"Oh, God!" Rachel grabbed his arm. "Look out!"

A white station wagon pulled into the intersection.

He stood on the brakes so hard he felt the seat back snap. The skid pulled at the steering wheel, and he could hear tires scream and smell the rubber burn. Blue lettering painted on the side of the station wagon grew huge before his eyes:

Rock and Roll with Jimmy Peyton and the Fireflies

The other driver looked at him in stunned horror, his passengers frantic. One of them had his hands pressed against the side window. A thought hit Rudy with a passive calmness: they were going to die. Rachel grabbed him, screaming. With a horrific bang, her scream faded into a moan. The dashboard came at him, the speedometer needle still shimmying, and everything exploded.

Copyright 2006 by Jill Barnett Stadler


Excerpted from The Days of Summer by Jill Barnett Copyright © 2006 by Jill Barnett. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Top-Ten Beach Read." — Kirkus Reviews

"A splendid novel, the kind you'll want to read more than once." — Catherine Coulter

"Passionate, intense, gloriously dramatic storytelling — just what readers have been waiting for." — Jayne Ann Krentz, bestselling author of All Night Long

"Intense and compelling.... A story you won't be able to put down, one you'll want to talk about long after you've finished the last pages." — Kristin Hannah, bestselling author of Magic Hour

Meet the Author

Jill Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen acclaimed novels and short stories. There are more than five million copies of her books in print in seventeen languages. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her website at JillBarnett.com.

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Days of Summer 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1957 in Los Angeles, oil heir Rudy Banning and his artist wife Rachel drink too much before driving their vehicle head on into a car containing singer Jimmy Peyton and his manager. All four die in the car accident. The Banning children Jud and Cale move into the home of their ruthless grandfather, a coldhearted affluent business mogul Peyton¿s daughter Laurel remains with her devastated mother, his widow Kathryn.-------------- Thirteen years later on Catalina Island, Laurel and Cale meet and fall in love. However, his grandfather forces Cale to choose between Laurel and medical school he selects becoming a doctor. Laurel soon meets Cale¿s brother Jud and feelings grow between them while Cale is off at school.--------------- Over the next three decades Cale holds grudges against his brother and the one woman he loved. Now the trio meet once again as Jud begins to court Laurel who turns to cardiologist Cale for heart surgery.--------------- THE DAYS OF SUMMER is a fascinating relationship drama that follows the lives over several decades of two brothers and the woman they both desire connected initially by tragedy. The story line is a sudsy soap opera especially during the present era subplot and to a lesser degree in 1970. Still the three protagonists are fully developed leading to fun learning the outcome even though their triangle seems contrived.------------------ Harriet Klausner