The Goodbye Summer

The Goodbye Summer

3.1 8
by Patricia Gaffney

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The New York Times bestselling author of the much-beloved The Saving Graces is back with a warm, winning new novel about daring to love, braving a loss, and setting yourself free.

How much change can one summer bring? If you're Caddie Winger -- thirty-two years old, still living with her grandmother, and giving piano lessons to neighborhood

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The New York Times bestselling author of the much-beloved The Saving Graces is back with a warm, winning new novel about daring to love, braving a loss, and setting yourself free.

How much change can one summer bring? If you're Caddie Winger -- thirty-two years old, still living with her grandmother, and giving piano lessons to neighborhood children -- one summer can make the whole world look different.

Caddie's mother died when she was nine, and Caddie was raised by her grandmother. Now their roles are reversed, and it's Caddie who takes care of Nana. When her grandmother breaks a leg and insists on going into a convalescent home, Caddie finds herself being pulled out of her comfy, self-made nest. Living alone for the first time since college, she uncovers some startling truths from her past.

Jolted, she looks at the world with new eyes and begins to take charge of her future. As she makes a new best friend, takes risks she never dreamed she could, and navigates the depths and shallows of true love and devastating heartbreak, Caddie learns how to trust other people and, ultimately, how to trust herself.

Wise, moving, and reassuringly real, The Goodbye Summer offers us a deeper understanding of the perplexing and invigorating magic that is life itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
No one can accuse Gaffney of shying away from mortality. Against the genteel backdrop of Wake House, a Maryland home for the elderly, Caddie Winger, a music teacher, endures a string of losses the summer she turns 33. In a way, it comes as no surprise, since most of her friends are nearly half a century older than she is. Caddie has always lived with her determinedly wacky grandmother, Nana, who moves into Wake House after she breaks a leg while working on one of her embarrassing lawn sculptures. Soon, Caddie is spending all her time at the small convalescent home and growing especially close to Thea, a firecracker who convinces Caddie to smoke pot and dance in the rain. Despite the fun they have together, the sober realities of old age are never far off, and Caddie's affair with a man her own age disappearing slick-o Christopher doesn't do much to cheer her up. The novel has its larkier moments, especially in the spirited, pitch-perfect conversations between Caddie and Nana and the sniping among Nana's fellow Wake House residents. But mostly Caddie suffers and struggles as Nana's ditziness looks more like dementia, money grows scarce, and she is plagued by crippling self-doubt. The redemptive romance, with 30-something Wake House resident Henry Magill, convalescing from a sky-diving accident that killed his fianc e, echoes the core love story in Gaffney's last novel, Flight Lessons. Here, too, a damaged hero offers a profound attractiveness the reader recognizes ages ahead of the heroine. Caddie is endearing, and while some fans will cherish her fealty to her sorrows, others may feel more bummed than uplifted. Agent, Amy Berkower. (May) Forecast: Fans who like a good weepie will appreciate this best, but look for Gaffney to match her usual numbers with the added help of a 10-city tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Caddie must make some hard decisions when her grandmother goes into a convalescent home. With a ten-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Washington Post Book World on The Saving Graces
“Gaffney writes with wit and a sharp eye for detail.”
Nora Roberts
“A jewel of a book and every facet sparkles.”

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The Goodbye Summer

By Gaffney, Patricia


ISBN: 0060545488

Chapter One

The first Caddie Winger ever heard of Wake House was when she was helping her grandmother get her drawers on over the cast on her leg.

It was Nana's second day back from the hospital. "If I was at Wake House," she said, lying flat on the sofa and holding her bunched-up nightgown over her lap for modesty, "somebody who knew what they were doing would be doing this."

"What house? Awake?"

"Wake House. That place on Calvert Street across from the thing. The thing, where you go with papers. To get signed."

"The notary? Put your good foot in here, Nan. Are you talking about that old house with the tower and all the porches? I think it's a boardinghouse."

"Before. Now it's an old folks' home."

"Oh, you don't need to go to a place like that, I can take care of you fine."


"It's a learning curve."

Nana mentioning a nursing home, imagine that. For the rest of the morning Caddie pondered what it might mean. When the old lady across the street went dotty and her children put her in a nursing home, Nana was aghast. "Shoot me if you ever want to get rid of me that bad, you hear? Take me out in the backyard and fire away." Caddie assumed the subject of nursing homes was off-limits forever.

That afternoon, though, out of the blue, Nana brought up Wake House again.

They were on the front porch, Nana slumped in her rented wheelchair, resting her broken leg on a pillow on top of the low kitchen stool. Caddie stood behind her, braiding her hair. Nana had long, pretty, smokegray hair and, before it softened with age, a long, bony, sharp-featured face. She loved it when people told her she looked like Virginia Woolf. Nobody ever added, "If she'd lived to seventy-nine instead of walking into the river."

"What's-her-name died there," she said, breaking a drowsy silence.

"Who died where, Nan?"

"Wake House. What's-her-name, you know. Pink hair, Tuesday nights."

Hm. Back in Nana's Buddhist period, when she'd led a chanting service in the dining room one night a week, an elderly lady who dyed her hair pink had shown up occasionally. "Mrs. Pringle?"

"Inez Pringle, thank you."

"She died at Wake House?"

Nana shrugged. "You have to die someplace."

Caddie leaned over to see if she was joking. Her eyes were fixed on something out in the yard -- Caddie followed her gaze to what was left of George Bush in Love. That's how she'd broken her leg, by falling off the stepladder while putting a final cowboy boot on top of her phallus-shaped, seven-foot-high lawn sculpture. Nana was an artist.

"Are you serious?" Caddie asked.

A moment passed. "About what?" Nana said dreamily.

Caddie smiled and went back to braiding her hair. How were they going to wash it? This old house had only one bathroom, upstairs, and right now Nana couldn't stand up at the kitchen sink for longer than a minute or two. Maybe one of those dry shampoos, they were supposed to ...

"About Wake House? Damn right I'm serious. Call 'em up, find out how much it costs to stay there."

Her next pain pill wasn't for forty minutes. She'd broken her leg in two places, but luckily the breaks were simple, so her recovery was supposed to be long and tedious but not tricky or dangerous. The pain made her irritable, though. That's all Caddie could think of to account for Nana's sudden interest in recovering anyplace except the house on Early Street she'd lived in for fifty years.

"Wake House. I even like the sound of it."

"You do?" It made Caddie think of a funeral home.

"It's not like one of those places, it's not a mick ... mick ... "

"McNursing Home," Caddie guessed.

"This place is going to the dogs."

"Our house?"

"The whole neighborhood. It's not even safe anymore."

"Yes, it is."

"No, it's not."

Caddie stopped arguing, because she never won, but Nana was exaggerating.

Early Street might not be what it used to be, not that it had ever been that much, but it still had decent, hardworking families with fairly well-behaved children, plenty of old-timers rocking out their afternoons on the shady, crooked front porches. Crime was still pretty much in the vandalism category, boys breaking things or writing on things. It was getting older, that's all. Everything got older.

"Wake House," Nana resumed. "I bet it's got an elevator. Ramps, wheelchairs with motors. People giving you massages."

"Oh, boy."

"I'm a senior citizen, I deserve the best. This place is a death trap."

"Only about half an hour till your next pill, then you'll feel better. Want me to play the piano? You could listen through the window."

"Look it up in the yellow pages. Better yet, take me to see it -- I always wanted to go inside that place. It's not just for old folks, you can get well there, too. Conva ... conva ... "

"Nan, I know you don't want to, but if you would just go upstairs, this whole thing would be a lot simpler. I really think."

"No way."

"You'd be near the bathroom -- you know how you hate that climb up the stairs four or five times a day. You could sleep in your own bed instead of the lumpy couch. You wouldn't have to move every time one of my students comes over for a lesson. You could have a bell or a whistle, and I'd come up anytime you needed something, I wouldn't mind a bit. It just makes so much more -- "


"But why?"

"I told you, I'm not going up there."

"But why not?"

"Once you go up, you never come down."

"Nana, you only broke your leg."

"That's it, I've made up my mind. Wake House. I used to know the family, you know."

Maybe Caddie could take one of Nana's pills for the headache she was getting ...


Excerpted from The Goodbye Summer by Gaffney, Patricia 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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Goodbye Summer 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In Maryland, thirty-three years old music teacher Caddie Winger knows this is the worst summer of her life. Her close friends at Wake House; a convalescent home for the elderly and those recuperating from crippling accidents including her Nana who broke her leg; have been dying; although rationally she knows they are either septuagenarians or octogenarians. Caddie mourns their passing as she has made friends with many of them since she spends much of her free time at Wake House. It is people like elderly resident Thea who persuades Caddie who smoke joints with her while others encourage her to live life to the fullest even as the younger woman worries her beloved Nana seems to get stranger with each passing moment. Struggling with no money and no confidence, Caddie is attracted to thirtyish resident Henry Magill, who is recovering from a sky-diving accident that left his fiancée dead. This is a captivating perhaps overly teary tale of a woman who has not taken any life FLIGHT LESSONS until the senior citizens and Henry persuade Ms. Sorrowful Winger (great surname for a grounded sad eyes) to imitate Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. The storyline is aptly titled yet ironically readers know for the thirty-three years old piano teacher this is the most wonderful summer of her maudlin life. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an absolute delight to read. The characters are so vivid that you want to know all about them! Caddie, the main character is simply wonderful and her story so unique. What the author does best is to weave the story in a way that makes the reader yearn for more. I love a happy story, although this one did make me cry a few times! This is a book that you would want to read over and over again, like a timeless clasic. It also inspired me to do some volunteering =).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seasoned actress and voice performer Maxwell has proven herself adept at both comedy and drama in her stage performances. She exercises that talent to the joy of listeners as we hear conversations between some of the slightly flighty residents of Wake House, a convalescent home. Her reading of Caddie's story is heartfelt and endearing as we share the sadness of losing someone dear and the joy of discovering love. Thirty-two year old Caddie Winger is a piano teacher, content for all of her life to live with her grandmother, Frances. But Caddie's life takes a sharp turn when Frances breaks a leg and insists upon moving to Wake House. Of course, she visits her grandmother regularly and becomes close to many of the other elderly residents. Her new friends are over twice as old as she is, save for one - a young man who was injured in a sky diving accident. For the first time that she can remember Caddie is living alone, making decisions on her own, and perhaps finding a new and unexpected life. - Gail Cooke