Invincible Summer

Invincible Summer

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by Alice Adams

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Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a


Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who's pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer.

But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth- and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined.

A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood, INVINCIBLE SUMMER is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
There's a long list of reasons that Alice Adams's debut novel, Invincible Summer, shouldn't work. But it clicks anyhow. Ms. Adams has managed to combine…a familiar plot…and pigeonhole-ready characters and spin their story into a heart tugger with seemingly honest appeal. This amazing feat doesn't rival those of the Large Hadron Collider, which plays a cameo role in Invincible Summer. But it's close…Ms. Adams [has a] gift for making her characters so changeable, so vulnerable, so universally familiar. They all make terrible decisions…and the book's main satisfaction comes from watching them adapt and cope.
The New York Times Book Review - Joanna Rakoff
…Alice Adams's irresistible debut novel falls squarely into that most English of genres: the comedy of manners…A crackerjack storyteller who deeply inhabits her characters—deploying pitch-perfect dialogue to poignant and hilarious effect—Adams uses the conventions of the form to examine larger ideas about class and commerce, art and science, friendship and family at the time of the most recent fin de siècle…This charming novel derives its power less from its author's reductive attempts at answers and more from her restless questioning.
Publishers Weekly
Adams’s fun and memorable debut is a tale of the friendship of four British college chums. Working-class Eva falls in with a magnetic pair of siblings, rakish Lucien and artistic Sylvie. Sylvie’s trajectory to success (according to the group) seemed “inevitable” due to “a certain shine, a vividness about her... causing people to cluster around her.” And finally there is Benedict: wealthy, humble, and a talented student of physics. Upon graduation in 1997, Eva, Sylvie, and Lucien head to London, where Eva has secured a traineeship at an investment bank, while Benedict stays behind in Bristol for a Ph.D. That summer, just prior to Eva starting her adult life, Benedict invites Eva to his family’s vacation home in Greece and almost manages to make a move on her, wondering, “Did she genuinely not know how beautiful she was?” From there, the story follows the group chronologically through the years as they make choices that bring them by turns closer to and further from each other and from the dreams they’d had as students. Adams’s characters have many ups and downs, disappointments and adjustments, but they are believable due to her understated exposition of the characters’ psychologies. The reader will stick with the book, not from a real sense of jeopardy about how things will turn out, but because the characters are such good company. (June)
Library Journal
In the new millennium, siblings Sylvie and Lucien enjoy life as an aspiring artist and club promoter, respectively; Eva crushes on Lucien while ignoring her Socialist upbringing by working for a bank; and Benedict crushes on Eva while earning a PhD. Then they hit their thirties. British-based Adams's debut is going out with a 100,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
Adams' sensitive debut follows a tightknit quartet of college friends as they navigate their shifting relationships—and evolving identities—over the course of two decades. After graduating from university in Bristol, Benedict, Eva, Sylvie, and Sylvie's brother, Lucien (technically not a student but a group member nonetheless), are on the cusp of their futures. Eva, a quietly rebellious physics grad, is poised to start a fancy finance job in London. Benedict—posh, studious, and in love with her—is staying on for a Ph.D. Artistic and free-spirited, Sylvie is off to travel for a year with Lucien, a caddish playboy who has long monopolized Eva's romantic attentions. The world seems alight with possibility; their bond feels unshakable. But as the years pass, and the disappointments of adulthood accumulate, the ties that once bound them begin to fray. Once, they hiked through Spain together; as they approach their 30s, they meet occasionally for distracted lunches and harried drinks. Their lives don't look the way they'd imagined they would: despite her talent, Sylvie isn't famous; despite their connection, Benedict and Eva haven't ended up together. And then—one personal crisis at a time—the four friends find their ways back to each other, forging new relationships that are deeper and more complicated than the ones they'd had at school. Adams doesn't stray far from convention here, but it hardly matters: her characters are nearly impossible not to root for, and she captures their often troubled dynamics with tremendous empathy and charming wit. And while the novel wraps up just a touch too neatly—the resolution isn't quite as much fun as the struggle—there is something pleasantly satisfying about its profound sense of hope. Breezy with substance; an absorbing summer read.
From the Publisher
"Like life, this breezy, charming novel about four college friends deepens and darkens as it moves through the years, presenting its characters with challenges and choices that test them in ways their younger selves couldn't imagine. INVINCIBLE SUMMER is the story of what happens when things get real."—Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Leftovers"

A sophisticated yet fun novel about four friends venturing into adulthood. Alice Adams does a magnificent job of describing the way life's heartbreaks and ecstasies unfold over the course of 20 years."—Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Rumor"

INVINCIBLE SUMMER goes down as smoothly as the steady flow of wine knocked back by its disarming characters as they make their way not only into adulthood but through the last two decades of financial boom and bust, London's rave scene, and the Higgs boson particle. Be forewarned, though: It packs a punch. Alice Adams has important things to say about our times and the meaning of family."Anne Korkeakivi, author of An Unexpected Guest"

INVINCIBLE SUMMER is a novel that will have you running for the phone to call your old friends and reconnect. Alice Adams is a beautiful storyteller. She deftly weaves the ties that bind four friends over the course of their youth and into middle age with powerful threads of emotion. I loved the world of this book, and how Ms. Adams wrote the passing of time through her characters with delicacy and truth."—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of All the Stars in the Heavens"

[Adams'] characters are nearly impossible not to root for, and she captures their often troubled dynamics with tremendous empathy and charming wit.... Breezy with substance; an absorbing summer read."—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Alice Adams is half Australian but has lived in England for most of her life, growing up in a house without a TV and as a result becoming a voracious reader. Career-wise, she's done everything from waitressing to investment banking, and in addition to a BA in philosophy, she has a multitude of geeky math, finance, and computer qualifications. She lives in North London but escapes into the wilderness as often as possible. Invincible Summer is her first novel and she's hard at work on a second.

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Invincible Summer 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Deb-Krenzer 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this book, the story of four friends growing up, being close, growing away, coming back together and just sharing their lives together. I really liked the characters as well. They were friends, but they sometimes forgot how to be that, but they were always open with each other and told each other how they felt. It may take a few years, but they did it. It was a story of ups and downs, wins and losses, mistakes and rewards and I was thoroughly entertained by it. I was doing a lot of rooting for a few of them at the end. It seemed they just couldn't get things right. You will laugh and cry, but it will definitely be one book you don't want to miss. Thanks to the Luttle, Brown Company and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.