Farewell Summer: A Novel

( 2 )


In a summer that refuses to end, in the deceiving warmth of earliest October, civil war has come to Green Town, Illinois. It is the age-old conflict: the young against the elderly, for control of the clock that ticks their lives ever forward. The first cap-pistol shot heard 'round the town is dead accurate, felling an old man in his tracks, compelling town elder and school board despot Mr. Calvin C. Quartermain to marshal his graying forces and declare total war on the assassin, thirteen-year-old Douglas ...

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Farewell Summer

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In a summer that refuses to end, in the deceiving warmth of earliest October, civil war has come to Green Town, Illinois. It is the age-old conflict: the young against the elderly, for control of the clock that ticks their lives ever forward. The first cap-pistol shot heard 'round the town is dead accurate, felling an old man in his tracks, compelling town elder and school board despot Mr. Calvin C. Quartermain to marshal his graying forces and declare total war on the assassin, thirteen-year-old Douglas Spaulding, and his downy-cheeked cohorts. Doug and his cronies, however, are most worthy adversaries who should not be underestimated, as they plan and execute daring campaigns—matching old Quartermain's experience and cunning with their youthful enthusiasm and devil-may-care determination to hold on forever to childhood's summer. Yet time must ultimately be the victor, with valuable revelations for those on both sides of the conflict. And life waits in ambush to assail Doug Spaulding with its powerful mysteries—the irresistible ascent of manhood, the sweet surrender to a first kiss . . .

One of the most acclaimed and beloved of American storytellers, Ray Bradbury has come home, revisiting the verdant landscape of one of his most adored works, Dandelion Wine. More than fifty years in the making, the long-awaited sequel, Farewell Summer, is a treasure—beautiful, poignant, wistful, hilarious, sad, evocative, profound, and unforgettable . . . and proof positive that the flame of wonder still burns brightly within the irrepressible imagination of the incomparable Bradbury.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Ray Bradbury's semi-autobiographical novel Dandelion Wine was written in "patches" from 1946 to its 1957 publication. This "extension," arriving almost 50 years later, might be viewed as a fitting conclusion to that intermittent process. Readers who grew up sharing up the boyhood of Douglas Spaulding can now cast nostalgic eyes back on his maturation and on a courthouse clock that refuses to stand still.... A masterpiece revisited and completed.
Chicago Sun-Times
“[B]eautiful imagery and well-crafted prose.”
“A touching meditation on memories, aging, and the endless cycle of birth and death.”
Rocky Mountain News
“Bradbury remains a master of inspired storytelling . . . The long-awaited, rewarding conclusion to an American classic.”
Publishers Weekly
This poignant, wise but slight "extension" of the indefatigable Bradbury's semiautobiographical Dandelion Wine picks up the story of 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding in October of 1928, when the warmth of summer still clings to Green Town, Ill. As in his episodic 1957 novel, Bradbury evokes the rhythms of a long-gone smalltown America with short, swift chapters that build to a lyrical meditation on aging and death. Playing at war, the imaginative Douglas and his friends target the town's elderly men, and the outraged 81-year-old bachelor Calvin C. Quartermain attempts to organize a counterattack against the boys' mischief. Rebelling against their elders-and the specter of age and death-Douglas and his gang steal the old men's chess pieces before deciding that Time, as embodied by the courthouse clock, is their true nemesis. The story turns on a gift of birthday cake that triggers Douglas and Quartermain's mutual recognition: "He had seen himself peer forth from the boy's eyes." Soon thereafter, Douglas's first kiss and new, acute awareness of girls serves as the harbinger of his inevitable adulthood. Bradbury's mature but fresh return to his beloved early writing conveys a depth of feeling. Look for a Q&A with Bradbury in the Aug. 21 issue. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A follow-up to Bradbury's 1957 novel, Dandelion Wine, this Tom Sawyer-meets-Peter Pan novella is creepier than the first book but retains the elegiac tone and lovely descriptions of 1920s boyhood. In the author's note, Bradbury says he had planned to publish Farewell Summer as part of Dandelion Wine, and it works best as an extension of that book, giving more plot and substance to what was mainly a collection of reminiscences. Doug and Tom, the brothers from Dandelion Wine, have gathered together an army of neighborhood boys. They plan to wage war against some of the town's old men, believing that if they win, they will never have to grow up. They try various tactics-fasting, stealing the old men's chess pieces, destroying the town clock-but ultimately, of course, there is nothing to be done, and time moves pitilessly on. A sequel nearly 50 years in the making will surely find interested readers. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bradbury has yet another lesson to share about growing up and growing old. It's Oct. 1, and the boys of summer are fighting one final battle. Brothers Doug and Tom Spaulding are squeezing the last bit of their freedom out of every day, but school is upon them. Apart from time and the change of season, their primary enemy is Calvin Quartermain, gray-haired member of the school board. And then, with one burst of gunfire from a cap pistol, Doug finds himself the leader of a revolution. For the boys and their sidekicks, it's a revolution against growing up. For the opposition, it's a war against growing old. Skirmishes begin, with both sides suffering casualties in one form or another. Doug and curmudgeonly Quartermain are decades apart in age, but they have a common heritage. The small-town setting is really just window-dressing for the two main characters. The Civil War looms large in this story, framing each section, with Doug carrying the bulk of the narrative. Like Peter Pan, he is the boy who doesn't want to grow old. He's haunted by strange dreams, feelings he does not understand. In his mind, all he can do is lash out at the world. For Quartermain, the battle of wits is a challenge to his manhood. He has the most to lose. In an afterword, Bradbury reveals that this novel was originally part of Dandelion Wine (1957). There's a young boy inside every old man, and Bradbury is no exception. A thin work, heavily reliant on dialogue, but one that serves as an intriguing coda to one of Bradbury's classics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061131547
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/17/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Ray Bradbury

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2011 at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."


Ray Bradbury is one of those rare individuals whose writing has changed the way people think. His more than 500 published works -- short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television scripts, and verse -- exemplify the American imagination at its most creative.

Once read, his words are never forgotten. His best-known and most beloved books -- The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes -- are masterworks that readers carry with them over a lifetime. His timeless, constant appeal to audiences young and old has proven him to be one of the truly classic authors of the 20th Century -- and the 21st.

Ray Bradbury's work has been included in several Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In recognition of his stature in the world of literature and the impact he has had on so many for so many years, Bradbury was awarded the National Book Foundation's 2000 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the National Medal of Arts in 2004.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you'll come along."

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview with Bradbury, he shared some fascinating facts with us:

"I spent three years standing on a street corner, selling newspapers, making ten dollars a week. I did that job every day for three hours and the rest of the time I wrote because I was in love with writing. The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love."

"I have been inspired by libraries and the magic they contain and the people that they represent."

"I hate all politics. I don't like either political party. One should not belong to them -- one should be an individual, standing in the middle. Anyone that belongs to a party stops thinking."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Leonard Douglas, William Elliott, Douglas Spaulding, Leonard Spaulding
      Ray Bradbury
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 22, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waukegan, Illinois
    1. Education:
      Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Farewell Summer LP

By Ray Bradbury

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Ray Bradbury
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061470950

Chapter One

There are those days which seem a taking in of breath which, held, suspends the whole earth in its waiting. Some summers refuse to end.

So along the road those flowers spread that, when touched, give down a shower of autumn rust. By every path it looks as if a ruined circus had passed and loosed a trail of ancient iron at every turning of a wheel. The rust was laid out everywhere, strewn under trees and by riverbanks and near the tracks themselves where once a locomotive had gone but went no more. So flowered flakes and railroad track together turned to moulderings upon the rim of autumn.

"Look, Doug," said Grandpa, driving into town from the farm. Behind them in the Kissel Kar were six large pumpkins picked fresh from the patch. "See those flowers?"

"Yes, sir."

"Farewell summer, Doug. That's the name of those flowers. Feel the air? August come back. Farewell summer."

"Boy," said Doug, "that's a sad name."

Grandma stepped into her pantry and felt the wind blowing from the west. The yeast was rising in the bowl, a sumptuous head, the head of an alien rising from the yield of other years. She touched the swell beneath the muslin cap. It was the earth on the morn before the arrival of Adam. It was the mornafter the marriage of Eve to that stranger in the garden bed.

Grandma looked out the window at the way the sunlight lay across the yard and filled the apple trees with gold and echoed the same words:

"Farewell summer. Here it is, October 1st. Temperature's 82. Season just can't let go. The dogs are out under the trees. The leaves won't turn. A body would like to cry and laughs instead. Get up to the attic, Doug, and let the mad maiden aunt out of the secret room."

"Is there a mad maiden aunt in the attic?" asked Doug.

"No, but there should be."

Clouds passed over the lawn. And when the sun came out, in the pantry, Grandma almost whispered, Summer, farewell.

On the front porch, Doug stood beside his grandfather, hoping to borrow some of that far sight, beyond the hills, some of the wanting to cry, some of the ancient joy. The smell of pipe tobacco and Tiger shaving tonic had to suffice. A top spun in his chest, now light, now dark, now moving his tongue with laughter, now filling his eyes with salt water.

He surveyed the lake of grass below, all the dandelions gone, a touch of rust in the trees, and the smell of Egypt blowing from the far east.

"Think I'll go eat me a doughnut and take me a nap," Doug said.


Excerpted from Farewell Summer LP by Ray Bradbury Copyright © 2007 by Ray Bradbury. 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.

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Reading Group Guide


On an early October day, with summer still lingering, thirteen-year-old Douglas Spaulding dreams that he is set adrift alone on a ship as his family and friends remain on the shore, waving good-bye. This disturbing dream catapults Douglas, his younger brother, Tom, and their friends into a "civil war" with the elderly men of the town, who are led by Calvin C. Quartermain, chairman of the school board.

The conflict's first shot, fired by Doug, fells Mr. Braling, an elderly man and close friend of Quartermain, and the war begins in earnest. A series of skirmishes between Douglas's and Quartermain's respective forces ensue for control over the boys' lives and destinies, and culminates in the boys' assault on the town courthouse tower clock in an attempt to literally stop Time and remain as they are. Eventually, Douglas learns about the inevitability of maturity when Lisabell, whom he met at a party thrown by Quartermain, kisses him.

In a scene reminiscent of the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, both sides learn their lesson about the inevitability of adulthood and death, and the futility of warring against the inexorable march of Time. Peace is declared. As Doug and Tom lie in bed, they hear the wind outside blow the last leaves from the trees. Summer has ended, and Autumn has begun.

Questions for Discussion

1. The three parts of the novel are named for famous battles of the Civil War; Antietam, Shiloh, and Appomattox. Antietam was the single bloodiest day of the war and a somewhat inconclusive victory for the North due to the failure to pursue and destroy the Confederate Army. Shiloh was a draw that could have beena Union disaster because of poor positioning of the troops. Appomattox is almost a synonym for surrender and the end of a war. How do these titles reflect the action of the book and how are the events in each part illustrative of the Civil War battles? Why do you think Bradbury named each part in this fashion?

2. The title Farewell Summer means more than merely a goodbye to a season. What is the phrase "farewell summer" a metaphor for? What other than a season are the characters, specifically Douglas and Quartermain, saying goodbye to?

3. At the beginning of the novel, Douglas has a dream—a nightmare, really—in which he is set adrift on a ship by himself as his family and friends say goodbye to him from the dock (pp. 9—11). When Douglas awakens why is he so afraid of the dream, and how does this lead to his subsequent actions in the novel? What is Douglas afraid of, other than the obvious motif of death?

4. What is the importance of Douglas's grandfather to the novel? Why does the grandfather, also an elderly man, seem to be above the conflict? Why does Douglas not include him among the enemy?

5. When Bleak accuses Quartermain of cutting himself off from life because he never married and had children (pp. 148–165) Bleak states that all of life is about letting go. How is Quartermain's problem, the refusal to let go, similar to Douglas's refusal to grow up? Do both characters essentially have the same problem, a refusal to accept that growth and change are a part of life and that they cannot do anything to stop it?

Dandelion Wine was published in 1957, and Farewell Summer is the sequel to that beloved novel. In case you would like to include Dandelion Wine as part of your discussion, as well, here are some questions that address both novels to help you direct your reading group's conversation.

1. The ravine figures largely in both novels, but is treated differently in each. How is the ravine different in each novel? Does it have the same importance in both stories? Are there any similarities between the two novels in the representation of the ravine?

2. Both novels contain a scene in which organization is considered stifling. In Dandelion Wine, the aunt organizes the grandmother's kitchen and the grandmother is no longer able to cook. In Farewell Summer, part of the reason the boys attack the clock at the old courthouse is because the courthouse symbolizes where their lives are recorded and organized. What is Bradbury saying about the power of bureaucracy and organization in these two scenes? Must this power be thrown off completely, or can some accommodation be made with it? Does each novel present the same conclusion about this power?

3. Both novels present a piece of a past boyhood summer. How are the depictions of the past summers different in each novel? Are both depictions nostalgic? Why or why not?

4. How is the character of Douglas different in each of the two novels? How is he the same? What are the reasons for the similarities and differences?

5. Both novels deal with the theme of the fear of death. In Dandelion Wine, the losses with which Douglas deals lead to his fever. In Farewell Summer, this fear leads to war. How is the fear of death "cured" in each novel? How are the cures similar or different? Why do you think Douglas is so preoccupied with death?

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010


    Farewell Summer, by Ray Bradbury, a sequel to Dandelion Wine, disappointed me greatly. It is about a group of pre-teen boys who learn the lessons of growing up. They play cap-gun fights, and steal certain pieces from the small town they live in. On the way, they meet a Mr.Quartermain, who ends up being the person who tries to beat the boys at everything. However, the boys eventually find that some things are more important that others.
    The story takes place in a small town in the 1920's, where summer isn't quite ready to leave the area. This book is a book with very in-depth lessons. To be able to understand it, you must really sit down for a couple hours, and reread most of the pages. For me, it just takes the fun out of reading, and I think that's one of the reasons I didn't like it.
    I found the book incredibly disappointing, because it was boring to read. I didn't get into it at all, and I dreaded having to read it. The reason I gave it a whole star, though, is because the actual writing, not the plot, was not bad. Some descriptions were good; however they were not about the right things. Instead of describing something vital to the story, the author would describe for pages something completely irrelevant to the story line.
    I would not recommend this book to anybody. Reading reviews, some people like it, but I find it so indescribably hard to get into I don't know why they like it. However, if you must read the book, try to read the first one, Dandelion Wine, and it might be slightly easier to understand.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Ray Bradbury is at his best with his expanding a tale included in his work DANDELION WINE

    In 1928 in Green Town, Illinois with school to shortly commence twelve years old Douglas Spaulding leads his brother and their friends in a make believe war against the town¿s older male citizens. Their childish mischief irks octogenarian Calvin C. Quartermain, who expects children to respect not harass the elderly. After a cap gun raid followed by the abduction of chess pieces, Calvin, invoking his memories as a young teen during the Civil War, mounts a counter offensive while the courthouse big clock keeps on ticking.------------------ The war between the young and the old escalates with neither side ready to capitulate or allow the sandwich generation to intercede with a punishing self-serving truce. However, the two ring leaders quickly gain respect for one another, but it is life that intervenes when Doug discovers he likes girls more than war.---------------- Ray Bradbury is at his best with his expanding a tale included in his work DANDELION WINE. The lead ¿generals¿ make the tale as both start out with dissing their adversary, but soon respect their opponent. Both soon realize they walk in the same shoes as Calvin sees Doug as his past and Doug sees Calvin as his future. One of the grandmasters of twentieth century literature, Mr. Bradbury is still in top form with a superior character study that looks at time ticking with a child eventually becoming the adult.---------

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2009

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