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The Gin & Chowder Club

The Gin & Chowder Club

3.6 24
by Nan Rossiter

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Set against the beautiful backdrop of Cape Cod, The Gin & Chowder Club is an eloquent, tender story of friendship, longing, and the enduring power of love. . .

The friendship between the Coleman and Shepherd families is as old and comfortable as the neighboring houses they occupy each summer on Cape Cod. Samuel and Sarah Coleman love those warm months by


Set against the beautiful backdrop of Cape Cod, The Gin & Chowder Club is an eloquent, tender story of friendship, longing, and the enduring power of love. . .

The friendship between the Coleman and Shepherd families is as old and comfortable as the neighboring houses they occupy each summer on Cape Cod. Samuel and Sarah Coleman love those warm months by the water; the evenings spent on their porch, enjoying gin and tonics, good conversation and homemade clam chowder. Here they've watched their sons, Isaac and Asa, grow into fine young men, and watched, too, as Nate Shepherd, aching with grief at the loss of his first wife, finally found love again with the much younger Noelle.

But beyond the surface of these idyllic gatherings, the growing attraction between Noelle and handsome, college-bound Asa threatens to upend everything. In spite of her guilt and misgivings, Noelle is drawn into a reckless secret affair with far-reaching consequences. And over the course of one bittersweet, unforgettable summer, Asa will learn more than he ever expected about love—the joys and heartache it awakens in us, the lengths we'll go to keep it, and the countless ways it can change our lives forever. . .

"Eloquent and surprising. . .I loved this story of faith, love, and the lasting bonds of family." —Ann Leary, author of Outtakes from a Marriage

"Nostalgic and tender. . .summons the passion of first love, the pain of first loss, and the unbreakable bonds of family that help us survive both." —Marie Bostwick, New York Times Bestselling Author

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Read an Excerpt

The Gin & Chowder Club

By Nan Rossiter


Copyright © 2011 Nan Rossiter
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-4667-7

Chapter One

All day long, the leaden sky had hung low and threatening over Nauset Light. Asa sat at his desk and watched the lighthouse from his bedroom window. There was something haunting about the steady measurement in each revolution.... It was almost as if you could watch time passing.

"Asaaa, we could use your help down here," Samuel Coleman bellowed from the kitchen, interrupting his son's thoughts.

"Be right down," the boy answered. He scribbled one last sentence and closed the notebook, slipped it into the bottom of his desk drawer, and pushed back his chair, almost tripping over the family's old black Lab who was dozing on the braided rug beside his bed.

"Sorry, ole girl," Asa said, scratching her head.

Martha thumped her tail forgivingly and followed him gingerly down the worn narrow treads as he hurried to help his father and brother.

Samuel looked up. "Please rinse before dropping 'em in."

"Yes, Dad," the boys replied, rolling their eyes and elbowing each other. When they had first begun helping with the task of pulling clam bellies from their shells, the boys had stood side by side on a chair. They had grown considerably since then, but the task would not be the same if their father forgot to reiterate these mundane instructions. Asa didn't mind. He loved to help with the recipe that had been in their family for generations. He loved it not only because it was a tradition, but also because it meant that his parents would be having company. When they were younger, he and Isaac would already be in their pajamas when their parents' friends arrived, and they would be allowed to stay up just long enough to say hello and to explain that they had indeed helped with the chowder. Then they would be ushered upstairs for prayers and gently tucked into bed. The ocean breeze would whisper to them through their bedroom window as they listened to the merry laughter and voices downstairs. Finally, the boys would hear the chowder being served and the men jovially toasting, their voices lilting with unmistakable Cambridge accents....

"'Tis the chowdah that waams a man's belly ... But aye, 'tis the gin that waams his soul!"

Then they would drift off to sleep, warmed by the happiness in their parents' deep old friendships....

Asa pulled the last clam belly, gave it a quick rinse, and dropped it into the pot. He scooped the empty shells into a large metal pail, and Isaac carried it outside. Asa watched his father drain off the potatoes and add them to the steaming pot as well.

"So, what do you boys have planned for tonight?" Samuel asked as he poured in a generous amount of cream.

"Depends on the weather," Asa answered. "We're supposed to meet some of the fellows down on the beach for a bonfire."

"Just fellows?" His father looked up with raised eyebrows as Isaac came back into the kitchen.

"Dad, do you need ice up here?" Isaac asked.

"Yes, we'll need some ice. Are you offering to bring it up?"

"Sure. Asa, give me a hand."

Isaac gave his brother a playful shove as they headed out of the kitchen. Samuel watched them go. He was amazed to think that these young men were his sons. What had become of the small boys who, just yesterday it seemed, had relentlessly chased each other through the house? Where were the little fellows he had carried out into the waves, one in each arm, the older one squealing with delight, the younger one silent and wide-eyed with determined courage? Now they were as tall as he was.

Isaac and Asa were both slender and handsome. Isaac reminded Samuel of himself at the same age—chestnut-brown hair that was already showing signs of receding, hazel eyes, and long dark lashes that were the envy of every woman who ever saw them. Isaac was a mathematician and an artist. He was creative in a conscientious and orderly way. He attended art school in Rhode Island and, having just finished his foundation year, had settled on architecture as a major, and it suited him.

Asa, on the other hand, looked just like his mother. His features were gentle and kind. His blond hair shone in the sun. By August, it would be bleached to almost white against his brown skin. Asa's eyes were as blue as the sweet summer sky and often reflected the distant thoughts of the poet he tried to keep hidden. Samuel wondered why his younger son was so reluctant to share his writing but respected his privacy. Asa would be heading to college in the fall, and Samuel hoped that there, he would finally grow more confident.

Samuel's reverie was interrupted by the sound of chunks of ice sliding into the old metal tub on the porch. The boys were laughing about something. Samuel decided that Isaac was teasing his brother again.

"Hey, Dad, are Uncle Nate and Noelle coming tonight?" Isaac asked through the open window.

"They are." Samuel nodded. He glanced at the clock and decided that it was late enough. He usually enjoyed having a cocktail when he was cooking, but today he had put it off. Now, with the chowder simmering on the ancient gas stove, Samuel went out onto the porch and handed Isaac his glass. His son filled it with ice cubes, splashed gin over the ice, topped it off with tonic, and squeezed a slice of lime into the mixture. He pushed the lime under the ice with his finger, gave it a quick stir, licked his finger, and handed the glass to his father.

"Nice stirrer," Samuel said as he took a sip and eyed his older son. "How'd you get so good at this?"

"Watchin' you," Isaac said with a mischievous smile.

As Samuel sat down on the wooden porch swing, the sun tried to break through the sullen clouds. A mild ocean breeze was pushing the clouds inland, and a bit of blue sky was finally visible. The old rambling Cape Cod house was situated on a bluff on the northern side of Nauset Light, and its back porch looked out over the vast expanse of the rugged shoreline that extended all the way to Coast Guard Beach. Asa leaned on the railing. He loved the ocean. When he and Isaac were younger, their father had told them that England was just over the horizon, and they had believed him. Soon after, Samuel had found them pushing off in their inflatable raft at low tide.

"We're going to England," they had shouted over the surf. "Tell Mom we'll be back for supper."

Samuel had had to swim out and pull them back in.

Both boys loved the ocean, but Asa was drawn to it in a deeper way and was captivated by the mystery of its deep waters. He was also fascinated by the faithful lighthouse that stood guard and prevailed against the region's punishing storms. On countless boyhood mornings, Asa had wandered down the worn path to the lighthouse's clearing on the precipice, slipped inside its heavy wooden door, climbed its narrow spiral stairs, studied its great rotating lens, and stood on a box to look out its tiny window to the sea. On just as many evenings, he had lain in bed and watched its light pass across the walls of the room he shared with his brother, dreaming of the day when he would live on the outer reaches of some jagged and treacherous coastline and be the trusted keeper of the light.

Now, Asa looked at the open window of the lantern room and thought of Noelle. She had stopped by that morning to drop off the old metal tub Nate had borrowed the previous summer. Asa had been the only one at home. He closed his eyes and pictured her standing in the doorway....

"I can't stay," she had said.

"I know."

"It's so good to see you."

"It's good to see you too."

He had walked her to her car, and she had tried to think of something more to say. "I see they painted the lighthouse."

"Yeah, they've been working on that."

"You know, I've never been inside a lighthouse."

Asa had looked up at her in disbelief. "How can that be? Didn't you grow up in Maine?"

"Yes, but not coastal Maine."

He had reached for her hand. "C'mon, you have to see the inside."

"I can't ..." She had pulled back, and he had let go. Seeing the disappointment in his eyes, she had relented. "Okay ... but only for a minute."

"Only for a minute," Asa had agreed, smiling.

They had walked down the worn path, and Asa had jiggled the lock and pushed open the heavy door. When they reached the lantern room, Noelle had looked in amazement at the mechanics that created the light.

"It's a Fresnel lens," Asa had explained, showing her how the light was reflected. She had listened attentively and watched for a while before walking over to the window to look out at the sea. Asa had looked at the slender curve of her body outlined under her thin sundress and moved behind her. He had reached over her shoulder to push the window open, and the ocean breeze had rushed in and swept back her hair. Asa had slipped his arms around her, breathing in the lovely scent of her body, and Noelle had put her hands on his arms and closed her eyes. She had felt him against her and thought again about how easy it would be ...

"Asa ..."

"Don't ..."

They had stood silently together. The only movement in the room had been the rotation of the reflecting light and the breeze that whispered in to cool their skin.

Finally, Noelle had broken the silence. "Asa, if you only knew how much I would love to be with you." She turned to him and searched his eyes. "I'm so sorry.... I should never have come." Asa had looked away, and Noelle had reached up and gently turned his face back to her, searching his eyes. "Asa, I would love to lie beside you.... Don't you see? But then what? What about Nate? I love him too. Asa, please, help me not let this happen...."

Tears burned at Asa's eyes. "Noelle ... don't you know?" He struggled with the words. "I would do anything you ask—anything at all—even if what you ask is not letting this happen...."

Noelle had leaned up and pressed her lips against his flushed cheek. Asa had closed his eyes and kept his hands stiffly at his sides....

"So, a bonfire with the fellows, is that it?" Samuel asked, interrupting Asa's thoughts.

Isaac winked at his brother. "That's the plan, Dad," he replied.

"Well, you boys know the rules—if you have any alcoholic beverages at your bonfire, stay out of the water," Samuel warned. "I was a fellow at a bonfire once, you know." He paused. "Are you going to hang around here for a while? I know everyone is looking forward to seeing you."

"Of course, Dad," said Asa. "We wouldn't miss out on chowder."

Samuel smiled and drummed his fingers on his glass. He looked his boys over. "Well, I hope you'll change out of those rag-tag shorts and T-shirts."

"Yup," said Isaac. "I might even take a shower."

"Sure you want to do that?" Asa teased. "It hasn't been a week yet."

Isaac gave his younger brother a smirk and walked toward the open door. Sarah Coleman was standing there with a grocery bag in her arms.

"Sam, I have the French bread and the shrimp if you want to come in and make cocktail sauce," she said. "Asa, maybe you could slice the bread."

"Yes, my dear," Samuel replied, easing himself up from the swing and walking over to freshen his drink.

"May I get you a cocktail ... or would you like the whole rooster?"

Sarah smiled. "A small glass of white wine would be good."

Asa watched his parents. He was always amazed by the easy, warm comfort of their relationship. He wondered if he would ever know another so well ... and if another could ever possibly know him. He thought of Noelle, and his heart ached for what could never be. He shook his head and went into the kitchen to slice the bread. Behind him, the summer sky was now a cloudless blue.

Chapter Two

Nate peered in the bedroom doorway. "Almost ready, hon?"

"Almost." Noelle glanced in the mirror and sighed. Why did God create wrinkles?

Nate stepped into the room, wrapped his arms around her, and looked at her reflection too. She was slender, and her dark brown hair hung just past her shoulders. Her smooth skin was tan against the coral color of her linen sundress. She looked amazing and lovely, and Nate wondered how he hadn't noticed when he used to see her in her starched white nurse's uniform.

"How'd I get so lucky?" he pondered out loud.

Noelle put her hands on his arms and remembered how Asa had felt standing behind her.

She pushed the thought from her mind and whispered, "I'm the lucky one."

Nate closed his eyes and held her. The silver in his sideburns had long ago started spreading into the neatly clipped hair above his ears. Noelle had told him that it made him look distinguished, but he wasn't convinced. She continued to stroke his arms, pulling on his soft hair. She smelled his aftershave and felt a rush of warmth between her legs. Looking at Nate's head bent down over her shoulder, she thought about the events that had brought them to this place. Her eyes were drawn to the reflection of the bedroom behind them. She studied the Shaker headboard and the blue and white country quilt that was tucked neatly into its oak frame. She had found the bed in an antique shop, and it had fit perfectly between the two windows that overlooked the ocean. The walls were painted a soft sea green and were offset by creamy white trim and wainscoting that reached halfway up the walls. Noelle had chosen the colors and repainted the room soon after she and Nate had married. Even so, the memory of another life—Annie's life—still lingered. A gentle breeze drifted in through the windows and made the gingham curtains billow.

"We should go," Nate murmured.

"Mmm-hmm," she agreed, still lost in thought.

Annie, Nate's first wife, had died in this room. She had fought her long illness valiantly until its very end. As Annie's nurse, Noelle had witnessed the fight. She had witnessed the love and the heartache, and after Annie's passing, she had watched as grief and despair had consumed the brokenhearted man who was left behind. Witnessing all this and offering what comfort she could, Noelle Ryan couldn't help falling in love with Nathaniel Shepherd.

Blinded by sadness, however, Nate had barely noticed Noelle's presence, much less her striking features. It wasn't until they ran into each other some six months later that Nate noticed how beautiful she was. He had been going out of the grocery store as she was coming in. They had stopped to chat, and Nate had unexpectedly asked her if she had time for a cup of coffee. Noelle had obliged. They'd gone to a little outdoor café and continued their conversation, which Noelle had kept light. When they'd finished, Nate had leaned over to pick up his bag, and it had ripped open. Melted ice cream had dripped all over his shoes. "Guess I forgot what I had," Nate had said, laughing. It had felt good to laugh. After saying good-bye, he realized that he hadn't thought of Annie once during the conversation. It was a much-needed respite for his weary soul. Two weeks after their chance meeting, Samuel encouraged Nate to invite Noelle to one of their famous gatherings. He did, and by the end of the evening, it was evident to all present that Nate was smitten with Noelle, despite their eighteen-year age difference.

Chapter Three

An hour later, Samuel was standing in the kitchen wearing a pressed white oxford, sleeves rolled to his forearms, and khaki slacks, mentally checking his list of preparations. Big band was playing on the radio. The kitchen counters were spotless. The shrimp was on ice, and the cocktail sauce had the perfect amount of fresh horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and lemon. The buttered French bread was in foil and waiting to go in the warm oven. The chowder was still simmering, and the fresh pepper grinder had been filled. The old metal tub was stocked with beer, white wine, tonic, and sweet tea on ice. Merlot, Tanqueray, and other mixers were on the old oak side table, and there were slices of lemon and lime in a chilled glass bowl. Sarah had cut blue hydrangea blossoms and made two bouquets, one for the kitchen and one for the porch. The outside table was covered with a pressed white linen cloth on which the glasses sparkled in the late afternoon sun. Samuel glanced around one last time. He prided himself on being an organized and conscientious host.

"Hey there, you old fox," a familiar voice called out.

Martha slowly pulled herself up off the wooden floor and barked warningly down the steps while her welcoming tail gave away her true emotions.

"Hey there, yourself!" Samuel replied, stepping out onto the porch and reaching for Nate's hand. The two friends clapped each other on the shoulder and hugged.

Samuel turned to Noelle. "I don't know how you put up with this old bear," he said, taking her hand and bringing it to his lips. "You are a saint—and a beautiful saint at that," he added with a wink.


Excerpted from The Gin & Chowder Club by Nan Rossiter Copyright © 2011 by Nan Rossiter. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. 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.

Meet the Author

Nan Parson Rossiter was born in Mount Vernon, New York, on March 31, 1964. At a very young age she loved to draw and dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating from Northwestern Regional 7 High School in Connecticut, Nan attended the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in illustration. At RISD, Nan’s portfolio of work was greatly influenced by then-teacher Chris Van Allsburg. Graduating in 1986, Nan set out to become a freelance illustrator.

After working in the freelance field for several years, Nan Rossiter became interested in writing a story for children. In 1991 she began working on a picture book called Rugby & Rosie, inspired by an acquaintance who was raising a puppy for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Nan Rossiter is the author-illustrator of Rugby & Rosie, an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists and winner of the 1999 Golden Sower Award, and The Way Home, one of Smithsonian magazine’s Notable Books for Children, 1999. She has also just completed her third picture book, Sugar on Snow, which will be published in fall 2002.

Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, two sons, and a very special black Lab named Chloe. Chloe is an official breeding dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The Rossiters are Chloe’s foster family, and they hope that she will be the mother of many wonderful guide dogs.

When she’s not working, Nan loves spending time with her family. She enjoys hiking and nature and watching her very busy birdfeeder, where the chickadees will eat right from her hand!

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The Gin & Chowder Club 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Coconut_Librarian More than 1 year ago
Type: {Commuter Read: format lends easily to starting/ stopping.} Rating: {I'm Lovin' It: Very entertaining!} Why You're Reading It: - You love Cape Cod. - You're looking for an original story. - You want a page-turner that you can escape into. What I Thought: The Gin & Chowder Club is a complex and original story that is an incredibly quick read. Nan Rossiter is a master of description and has a gift for making the reader feel as if they are in the story. I am eager to get across the country for a better look at Cape Cod now! The two families that are featured in this book are so real that you feel as if you know them (yet you would never wish their situation on anyone you actually do know). A story that doesn't give us a clear hero or villain, it lends itself to be a good book for discussions. Each of the main characters have been written with strengths and flaws alike. The Christian faith plays a bigger role in this book than I was expecting (or perhaps usually care for), but Rossiter has incorporated the realness of humanity by weighing faith against life. What happens when someone who has been raised to be a good Christian, Ivy League young man of 1961 (complete with shaking his father's hand instead of hugging, being ultra respectful of his mother, being chummy with his father's friends, and donning the required Cape Cod wardrobe of polos and khakis with his tan - think the Kennedy clan here), ends up having an affair with the wife of one of his father's best friends? As he struggles between the new found feelings of his own manhood versus the Christian teachings his mother instilled in him in his boyhood, readers are able to get to know Asa in an intimate way. It was easy for me to connect with Asa; bookish and less social than his older brother. He chooses who he loves carefully and isn't someone who dates around, which makes his relationship with Noelle that much more intense. His struggle to do the right thing is often overshadowed by his human desire to have what he wants, a battle most of us are familiar with. Added bonuses are sprinkled throughout the book. Dog lovers will fall in love with Martha, who will remind many of their childhood four legged friends. And book lovers will fall in love with the way Rossiter references books and poets. each time she slips in a literary reference it feels like a little secret gift to the reader. As much as I would have loved to have seen some of these characters fleshed out even more, the length was perfect and the reading was good; trying to stretch it out wouldn't have served the plot and, as much as I love knowing about characters, I enjoy a moving plot line. The first half of the book is a nice set up, and the second half flies by!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Gin and Chowder Club is Nan Rossiter's first book. She is the author of a number of children's books, including Rugby & Rosie and Sugar on Snow. The Gin and Chowder Club explores the complexity of relationships throughout different life stages. From the title and the cover, I was expecting a book similar to The Jane Austen Book Club, where people experience life events told through gatherings. I was quite surprised when, a few chapters in, a secret affair between an "older" married woman, Noelle, and a young college bound student, Asa, becomes the centerpiece of the novel. I found the Gin and Chowder Club to be very readable. The chapters are generally short and the story-line moves along. With deftness, the author takes on large themes such as love, infidelity, family relationships, forgiveness and spirituality. I believe the development of the characters could have been stronger. In particular, the reader is left guessing about the issues between Noelle and her husband, Nate-issues which led her to allow for an intimate relationship with a young man she had watched grow up. However, the author is at her best in the development of Asa and her description of the feelings of first love. Overall, The Gin and Chowder Club is a nostalgic read, perfect for vacation.
SoupMO More than 1 year ago
Well written. Good description of characters and their motives
litendeavors More than 1 year ago
Nan Rossiters's The Gin and Chowder Club is a tale of love and betrayal, of temptation and redemption, of loss and forgiveness. This novel explores human fallibility and the grace bestowed upon us through faith and forgiveness. When Asa falls in love with Noelle, the young wife of his father's closest friend, he knows that he is jeopardizing a close relationship between their families that has lasted through several generations. But despite the guilt and the promises to break off the relationship before anyone else finds out or gets hurt, he and Noelle continue to see each other whenever they get the chance. Rossiter did a wonderful job of fleshing out Asa's character and the intensities and anguish of a first love. I had some difficulty understanding why an older woman would be interested in someone so much younger than herself, but again, Rossiter perfectly described Noelle's guilt and the ways she compartmentalized the relationships she had with both Asa and her husband, Nate. Though there is a religious overtone to this novel, I didn't find it heavy handed and I didn't consider this to be "Christian fiction." I enjoyed the themes of forgiveness and redemption, and the power they have to set us free from our own guilt and despair. I was surprised to see so many people here up in arms over the fact that Christian characters were having affairs and drinking. We all have our weaknesses, and for some, faith is a way to transcend them, overcome them, and learn from them. I thought this novel perfectly exemplified this lesson and imparted the importance of faith without being didactic or preachy. Do I think a person can love two people at the same time? Absolutely! Does love sometimes not conform to social mores? Of course! If it feasible that Christians can find themselves in an adulterous affair and still be a Christian? I can't believe this is even an issue. Moving on, the description of Cape Cod left me wanting to drive across the country, drink some cold beer and have some creamy clam chowder. Visions of light houses, ocean spray, and stunning sundowns had me cursing this Texas summer/drought. I enjoyed the atomospheric Gin and Chowder Club, and look forward to reading future Rossiter novels.
Meg-ABookishAffair More than 1 year ago
Oh my, I started this book on my plane flight from DC to Denver, continued it through the airport in Denver, and then didn't put it down until I finished the book on the flight from Denver to Montana. What I'm trying to say is that I couldn't put it down. You have Asa, a young man just on his way to college, falling head over heels for Noelle, a close family friend that he's pretty much grown up around. It's definitely intriguing. Asa seems a little confused. He knows he shouldn't pursue Noelle but he does. Noelle knows that she has to be the adult in this situation but she's inexplicably drawn to Asa and doesn't do anything to stop their torrid love affair. I don't know if it was just the young man/older woman scenario that made me make this connection but this book definitely has the same flavor as The Graduate. It's forbidden love and with Asa's family and Noelle and her husband being so close, both Asa and Noelle know they're playing with fire. On one hand, I found myself getting kind of angry about Asa and Noelle not realizing what the potential consequences could be if they got caught. On the other hand, them getting closer to each other seems to have somewhat of an otherworldly pull that you can see how they get so tied up in each other. Bottom line, this book will keep you reading until you figure everything out. Make sure you set aside a lot of time before sitting down to read this book. My Review: 4 out of 5 stars
NadiaReadsALot More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book I thought it would be a nice summer read - a light chick lit type of book. And I was right about it being a light read, however it bordered more toward the Christian lit genre than chick lit. I wasn't expecting to read a book peppered with religion throughout, which is pretty much what I got. Now, I'm not one to read Christian lit normally, so I'll admit that my opinion about this book may be skewed - nonetheless, here goes. This is a book about infidelity and the ways in which it impacts lives. Asa has known Uncle Nate forever and has grown fond of his wife, Noelle (she's fifteen years younger than Nate and is his second wife - Annie, his first wife passed away years ago). Except, this fondness is starting to turn into lust and well, you can imagine where that takes the story. Noelle kisses Asa (she tells him they are just friends) + Asa can't get Noelle out of his head = an affair is born. Hearts are broken and a baby is born. Oh, and there is a death, which I'm sure is supposed to tug at your heart strings, but it just made me roll my eyes. Why did I roll my eyes? Because I knew who was going to die and what would happen afterward - it was so obvious! I hate when you already know what is going to happen before it happens - it makes for a boring read. I admit it - I didn't really care for the book. The writing was good, but it didn't really hold my attention. I pretty much read the book in one sitting and found that I was happy when it was finally over. I just felt that the story lacked personality and the characters were cliched. In fact the plot was so unoriginal that I felt like I was re-reading a story. The only things I did like were the book cover (I love hydrangeas) and the bits and bobs that mentioned To Kill A Mockingbird and A Separate Peace - that's pretty much it. This is not a book I will remember.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MWgal More than 1 year ago
Quite shallow and uninteresting. Drivel!
52chickadees More than 1 year ago
The friendship between the Colemans and the Shepherds span many years and countless summers as neighbors on Cape Cod. Samuel Coleman and Nate Shepherd continued the businesses of their Father and Grandfather; Coleman and Son Fine Woodworking and Shepherd’s Accounting Firm. Samuel had also kept up the weekend ritual of “The Gin and Chowder Club”. Everyone looked forward to their warm hospitality, the friendly gathering and Sam’s signature Clam Chowder and Gin and Tonics! Sam and Sarah’s sons; Isaac and Asa, grew up in the summer shadows of the lighthouse and now both are college-bound. They had all watched as Nate’s beloved wife; Annie valiantly fought but lost her battle with a horrific illness, leaving Nate lost and alone. Blinded by sorrow and grief, he had not noticed Annie’s beautiful, young Nurse; Noelle, until a chance meeting some months later that led to a cup of coffee and a blossoming romance. Noelle knew, even though he was quite a bit older than she, that Nate was a good, caring and kind man, but after they married, Noelle couldn’t help but feel Nate was “:living the dream with Annie” through her. She longed for excitement and children. Although she was blessed with everything she could ever hope for, (A lovely house in Boston, the summer place on the Cape, etc.) her two dreams eluded her. When Asa was younger, he had always admired Noelle from afar, but as he matured, his feelings deepened into something undeniable. As much as Noelle tried to place her feelings for youthful Asa “on a shelf”, she finally had to admit their existence to Asa and herself. What had started as harmless and innocent but cherished joking and long talks about nothing and everything, soon turned into intimacy. But what about Nate?? Was it possible to love two men at the same time?? Noelle didn’t want to crush Nate’s world and Asa didn’t want to hurt his parents. Despite the feelings of betrayal of the friendship he and Nate had shared for, what seemed like forever, Asa cannot deny his love and longing for Noelle. He now dreaded going away to college. They couldn’t and wouldn’t be together. Perhaps her feeling for him would change in the absence? Always hanging like a dark cloud overhead was the frightening chance that Nate would find out. Asa decided he would do anything to be with Noelle, even if only for a fleeting moment or glimpse. What would his parents say?? He wasn’t raised to ignore or put his own spin on the Commandments his folks had so lovingly instilled within him. Isaac was in college also and had his moments as a hell-raiser, taking dares and chances, but never quiet, almost introverted, poetic Asa!! Ms. Rossiter has done it once again. She has pulled me into this heart-throbbing drama on Cape Cod until I can practically smell the bubbling chowder and feel a part of the gathering. Your stomach will lurch with the apprehension and inner turmoil both Asa and Noelle experience. You’ll shed tears as some heart-wrenching dramas play out. Will Asa overcome his all-encompassing love for Noelle? Or will love conquer Asa? Will Noelle leave the ever-trusting and understanding Nate? There was only one thing wrong with this book---I wanted more, more, more!!! I’m hoping there will be a sequel coming in the near future continuing the Coleman saga. In the meantime, I heartily recommend that you read another of Ms. Rossiter’s titles, “ Words Get in the Way”. Believe me when I say you won’t be disappointe
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cdsmith28 More than 1 year ago
This book is a great beach read, but I also enjoyed it while curled up on the couch with the air conditioner blasting and a gin and tonic beside me. I was, however, having a hard time trying to decide whether I liked this book or not. The author does a great job of placing us within the families. I loved the closeness and happiness there, but then there was the inevitableness of the pending affair. I didn't want it to happen and kept putting the book down to keep it from happening! I loved the connectedness of the generations and the history of the "Gin & Chowder Club", however, something was missing. And then I realized it had to do with Noelle's character. I could understand why Asa was drawn to her - she was beautiful, interested and he was lonely, but why was she drawn to him. We just weren't given enough to see that happening. I know she fell in love with him, but what ever caused her to look at him that way in the first place? Kudos to Ms. Rossiter for helping us to feel Asa's broken heart when he returns to school after learning of Noelle's pregnancy. Anyone who has suffered a severely broken heart could feel his intense agony coming through the pages. I know some have criticized the Bible verses and Christian values portrayed in this book, but as someone hailing from the rural south I can tell you there are still those healthy, stable Christian families out there, you have to look for them and they aren't perfect, but they are there. I did enjoy this book for the simple reason that sometimes it is just nice to know that love can conquer all and that even a terrible tragedy can have a happy ending. And as a side note: I enjoyed the dog character, Martha. As a lover of old dogs, I loved to see the family's simple inclusion and accommodations for their old friend.
NorCalReaderCC More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this novel. Nan's writing makes you feel as if you are sitting on the Cape with a Gin in your hand and sand in between your toes. I had a hard time putting the book down as I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It is a book that reminds you how affected we are by love. How intense your first love is and how torturous love can be if it is forbidden. As I was reading through the book I felt like I could relate to every character in one way or another.even Martha the dog. If you are looking for a "happily ever after" book this is probably not the best pick for you but let's face it when does life really end up happily ever after?!! A definite beach read or a good commuting read if you want to pretend you are at the beach!
StaceyPagan More than 1 year ago
I have never read anything by Rossiter, but this novel truly blew me away! It is a heart breaking story of a young boy, turned man, falling in love. You see Asa entangled with a woman older than him and married to his parent's best friend. The settings were well written, as were the feelings the young man had. It made me just want to hug him and tell him it would be alright! It did not take me long to become enthralled in the reading, not wanting to put the book down to see what Asa was to do next! There were several times when I reached up to swipe a tear away. I loved the story line and couldn't want to see what exactly would happen. The ending left me wanting just a little more, but overall the book was well written and thought provoking.
SuMarie More than 1 year ago
The cover got me. I'm a pushover for hydrangeas. The story itself was told in a super dry voice, without much going for it. It could've been a rich plot, but instead it was pretty empty. The setting was well-presented, and I really wanted to be there. Great beach location. It's the first real book I bought for my new Nook so I felt compelled to finish it. If it'd been paper, it would've been in the garage sale pile. It wasn't HORRIBLE. Just not good.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
The Coleman and Shepherd families have known each other for quite some time. Each year, they head to Cape Cod where they are neighbors for the summer. Samuel and Sarah Coleman have been busy raising their two sons, Asa and Issac, whereas Nate Shepherd has weathered some heartache with the loss of his first wife. However, his second marriage to a much younger woman has brought him happiness and the entire Coleman family is happy for them both. Their time together is spent enjoying gin and tonics and clam chowder and they all look forward to this special time together. The story is set in th early 60's and this particular summer happens to be the last summer before Asa goes off to college. The Colemans worry whether their son is ready to embark on such an adventure, and admittedly, Asa has some doubts of his own, but he has no idea how complicated life really is until he finds himself drawn to Noelle, Nate's younger wife. At its heart, this is most certainly a love story, but it's also a story of about trust, betrayal, friendship and the ability to forgive. Rossiter does an amazing job of describing the angst.the yearning and the horrible guilt that results from Asa and Noelle's relationship. There is a taunting, teasing quality to it, but also a good dose of remorse. These are good people being tested. That's how I felt while reading it. There are other things that won me over. The decision to set the story in the early 60's, was an excellent choice. It had a completely different feel because of it and gave the story the tenderness it required. Think about it, a story like this set in the present day would be filled with gadgets and cell phone conversations and texts between the two of them. The magic would have been lost. Additionally, there are references to two of my favorite books of all-time. To Kill a Mockingbird is often mentioned in books, so although I was pleased to see it here, I wasn't surprised by it. However, I gasped out loud at the mention of A Separate Peace because it's one of my faves and has been since I read it in college. I love it when an author can reference another book within her own story, and have it mean something. I knew this book would be a pleasant read but I didn't expect it to raise so many questions. This would be a wonderful book club book because there is just so much to consider. The reading guide that is included in my copy, asks some really tough questions and the message from the author, which includes a story about a cardinal (poor bird!), will prove to you that authors can find ideas just about anywhere. You might buy the book for the cover but read it for the story.
AmyELignor1 More than 1 year ago
A lovely and very readable book focusing on the gentle longings of old friends who have summered on Cape Cod for many years. These longings cover the excitement of first love; the aches of disappointment; and, the solid affection of families that help all of us to continue living our lives the best way we can. The Coleman family (Sarah, Samuel, and their sons, Asa and Isaac), and the Shepherds (Nate and Noelle), have been friends for a long time. Nate lost his first wife, Annie, and after about two years he fell in love and married Noelle who had been Annie's nurse. These two families had always been fast friends. They spend summers in their comfortable Cape Cod houses by the water where, in the evenings, they sit on their respective porches and have their gin and tonics, good conversation, and eat homemade clam chowder. Toasting each other in their Cambridge accents: " ' Tis the chowdah that waams a man's belly... But aye, 'tis the gin that waams his soul!" Here, on the Cape surrounded by the ocean, the Coleman's have raised their children to adulthood and Nate Shepherd watched them grow up, too. But, yonder lies the pain underneath these ideal conditions. There is an attraction between Asa and Noelle which spells danger to all their good times. Regardless of the pain this pair could cause among their families, Asa and Noelle are pulled into an affair resulting in many problems down the line. During one very difficult summer they will cause many difficult decisions to be made by members of both families. This was a wonderful read, full of good humor and also many heart-wrenching decisions that had to be made by all parties involved. It will make the reader laugh one minute and cry the next. But, above all, readers will enjoy it immensely and never, ever forget each and every glorious word!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MGDOK More than 1 year ago
This is one of those stories that you get so involved in you think you are there...it is perfect for reading at the beach or poolside. The characters are wonderful...I laughed and cried along with them. This is Nan Rossiter's first novel and I can't wait for the next one. If you have a book club, there is also a guide in the back for discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the sequel first; liked that better. This one was just so-so.
Benz1966 More than 1 year ago
My review of this book is double-edged. First, what I enjoyed about it. The Gin and Chowder Club began with what a summer read should be. With beautiful descriptions of the Cape, the ocean, good food and strong family relationships I settled down to enjoy a relaxing, idyllic story. Now, I've read books with affairs in them. While I have moral objections to the subject matter I expected to be able to handle it thinking that, typical of this type of literature, a lesson would be learned. <b>Be careful there are some spoilers ahead.</b> Instead, what I got was a book that almost bordered on Christian Literature (many verse references, bible passages, a strong church background, pastors daughter (and can I just say I hate that stereotype being one myself), prayer and a Godly home portrayal), but that threw out all of that base groundwork to focus around a story that was so clearly out of character for the people involved. First, there's Noelle, a young woman married to a man many years her senior who has absolutely no respect for that man, nor his friendships and is willing to risk it all for a few moments in the sack - and then there's Asa, a teenager, not even old enough to drink, being given beer and other alcohol freely, being encouraged by this older woman and forsaking his "strong, moral upbringing" with lies, an affair and straying from the path. I was raised in a strong Christian home. I can tell you right now that it is not normal to do what Asa did and not feel strong, almost crippling guilt - especially considering that special care was made by the author to let us know that the lie he told his mother in one part of the book was the first of its kind. It simply is not that easy to forsake years of training, of examples, of strong, kind fellowship with a close-knit family to do something of this magnitude. At the end, I felt blase and had a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed to me as if Nan Rossiter tried to go both ways for a novel of this kind - by giving it the gentle, heartwarming ending a summer read book should have, but also the intrigue and carelessness that would keep a reader wanting to read more. It just didn't work - it seemed completely unreal and I was disappointed.
SallyLovesBooks More than 1 year ago
The Gin and Chowder Club is an easy, quick, and light summer read. I live in NYC and I read the whole book while on the train and it definitely made my commute fly by. For the most part, the book held my attention throughout and I was genuinely intrigued about what would happen at the end. I enjoyed the Cape Cod setting immensely and the detailed descriptions definitely made me want to visit. I also liked the book/reading motif that was threaded throughout the story. As a passionate reader, I am always eager to hear about (even fictional) people's opinions on books! I had less positive feelings about the characters though. I think the premise was extremely interesting: a straight-laced, religious college student has an affair with an upstanding family friend's wife. However the characters often came across as unrealistic or a little too wholesome to me. There was a disconnect between Asa and Noelle's personalities and their actions for me. The author is careful to paint them in a very positive light and yet they do this irredeemable thing. While I think it's definitely possible for 'good' people to do 'bad' things, I wanted more of an explanation about their attraction to each other. Part of this might be explained by the fact that the book is set in 1961 and the author was trying to capture a particular time and place (which I think, overall, she is successful in doing,) but at times I thought the tone of the book was mismatched with the plot. I also didn't love the ending, I felt like it veered into melodrama and that the last few chapters of the book moved much too quickly in comparison to the careful plotting of the first 3/4 or so. All that said, I am happy that I had a chance to read the book and I would recommend it to someone looking for an enjoyable summer read that has more substance than pure chick lit. I also think readers who enjoy stories set in New England should definitely check it out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would call this Christian fiction. Way too many Bible passages, prayer and the story focusing on a family that was very religious. AND they are quite the lushes, with drinking a strong thread throughout the entire story. And on top of that a high school senior having a summer affair with a married woman. The cover of the book drew me in and the location was also a summer draw. I am not religious and I don't drink. I just thought everything around this story was too contradictive.