Surfside Sisters: A Novel

Surfside Sisters: A Novel

by Nancy Thayer

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Nancy Thayer is the queen of beach books.”—The Star-Ledger

A Nantucket woman returns home to find that reunions aren’t always simple, in this heartwarming novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Nantucket Wedding and Secrets in Summer.

Keely Green always dreamed of leaving the beautiful shores of Nantucket to become a writer. Now she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, attending glamorous cocktail parties and mingling with the literary elite. Keely is also dating a charming, perfectly fine pediatric surgeon who looks good on paper but isn’t “the one.” She just can’t bear to break it off—until he declares his desire to settle down. Then Keely’s editor rejects her latest novel. With her personal and professional lives suddenly in shambles, Keely longs for the soothing island way of life.

Growing up, Keely and her best friend, Isabelle, were inseparable. Nothing could come between them—except, as it turned out, Keely’s high school boyfriend, Tommy. Returning home would mean facing Isabelle’s bitter betrayal and seeing for herself the family Tommy and Isabelle have created, the life that might have been Keely’s.

But when Keely’s mother falls into a deep depression, Keely knows what she must do, even though she is reluctant to face her estranged friend. And encountering Isabelle’s older brother, Sebastian—Keely’s longtime crush—only complicates things.

In one incredible summer, Keely must confront the mistakes of the past if she has any chance of finding true happiness in the place she will always call home. Nancy Thayer shines yet again in this uplifting tale of forgiveness and self-discovery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524798741
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,888
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including A Nantucket Wedding, Secrets in Summer, The Island House, The Guest Cottage, An Island Christmas, Nantucket Sisters, and Island Girls. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Thayer has been a year-round resident of Nantucket for thirty-four years, where she currently lives with her husband, Charley, and a precocious rescue cat named Callie.

Read an Excerpt

Two different kinds of people exist: Those who wade cautiously into the shallows and those who throw themselves headlong into the roaring surf.

At least, that was what Keely and Isabelle thought.

As girls, Keely and Isabelle preferred Surfside to Jetties or Steps Beach, even though that meant a longer bike ride to the water. Jetties Beach was mild and shallow, perfect for children, but Surfside had, well—­surf!—­often dramatically breathtaking surf leaping up and smashing down with a roar and an explosion of spray that caught the sunlight and blinded their eyes with rainbows. Their parents worried when they went to Surfside. People could get caught up by the power of the water and slammed mercilessly down onto the sand. People had their ankles broken, their arms. Once, a classmate of Keely’s had broken his neck, but they’d medevaced him to Boston and eventually he was good as new. He never returned to Surfside, though.

Keely couldn’t remember a time when Isabelle wasn’t her best friend. They met in preschool, linked up the first day, and went on like that for years. They were equally spirited and silly. They played childish pranks, using the landline to punch in a random number; if a woman answered, they whispered in what they considered sultry, sexy voices, “Tell your husband I miss him.” Usually they couldn’t keep from giggling before they disconnected. At ten, they smoked cigarettes at night in the backyard—­until they realized the nicotine only made them nauseous. Once, when they were eleven, they stole lipsticks from the pharmacy, which was really stupid, since they didn’t wear lipstick.

Isabelle lived in a huge marvelous old Victorian house in the middle of Nantucket. It had a wraparound porch and a small turret. Odd alcoves and crannies were tucked in beneath the stairs, both the formal, carpeted stairs from the front hall and the narrow, twisting back stairs from the kitchen. It was the perfect place for hide-­and-­seek, and on rainy days, they were allowed to rummage through old trunks and boxes in the attic, pulling on ancient dresses as soft as spiderwebs and floppy hats heavy with cloth flowers.

The Maxwell house was rambling and mysterious, a home out of storybooks, and for Keely, the amazing Maxwell family belonged there.

Isabelle’s father, Al Maxwell—­his full first name was Aloysius, which his children used when he reprimanded them—­“Yes, sir, Aloysius!”—­was a lawyer, a partner with the Nantucket firm Maxwell and Dunstan. Mr. Maxwell was larger than life, tall, broad, ruddy-­cheeked, and energetic. He didn’t talk, he bellowed. He didn’t drink, he gulped. He didn’t laugh, he roared. His wife, Donna, said the vertebrae of his spine spelled out EXTROVERT. When he arrived home after a day at the office, he threw off his jacket, loosened his tie, and strode out to the spacious backyard. He’d join a game of baseball or pick up Izzy or Keely, settle them on his shoulders, and chase the other children, bellowing that he was a wild and angry bull, all the time keeping tight hold on the legs of the child he carried.

Mrs. Maxwell was movie star beautiful. Tall, blond, and buxom, she was the careful parent, the watchful one. She seldom joined in their games, probably because she was busy cooking enormous meals for her family and baking cakes and pies that sold out at church and school fundraisers. She was the mother who volunteered as chaperone on all the school trips, who helped decorate the gym for special occasions, and when her son stomped into the house with most of the high school basketball team, she was ready with hearty snacks like taco bakes and pizzas. She did everything the perfect mom would do, and still remained, somehow, cool, restrained. At least it seemed she was that way toward Keely.

There were the two remarkable Maxwell children. The oldest was Sebastian, tall, lanky, blue-­eyed Sebastian. How he managed to be so handsome and so modest at the same time was always a curiosity to Keely. She thought that it must be because he grew up in a house where everyone was gorgeous, so it seemed as normal to him as breathing. He played most of the school sports—­baseball, basketball, soccer—­and he was on the swim team.

After Sebastian, two years younger, came Isabelle. Mr. Maxwell often bragged, “I hit it out of the park with her!” At which Mrs. Maxwell would respond, “Not by yourself, you didn’t.” Such casual remarks alluding to sex made the Maxwell parents urbane and superior in Keely’s eyes.

Isabelle was a beauty like her mother, only willowy instead of voluptuous. Unlike Sebastian, she was aware of the power of her looks, and she was a friendly girl, but deep down inside not really a team player. She liked secrets, liked sharing them with Keely and no one else. She liked plotting and disobeying and sneaking and hiding. She liked mischief. She was often in trouble with the school or her parents, but she was also almost genius smart, so she got good grades and she knew when to rein in her wild side.

The Maxwell house was always crowded with kids of all ages, playing Ping-­Pong in the basement, doing crafts at the dining room table while Donna baked cookies, or giggling in Isabelle’s room while trying on clothes. Fido, their slightly dense yellow Lab, roamed the house looking for dropped food. He always found something. Salt and Pepper, their long-­haired cats, gave the evil eye to any humans that tried to remove them from whatever soft nest they’d made, but if they were in the right mood, they’d accept gentle stroking and reward the human with a tranquilizing purr.

Keely was fiercely, but secretly, jealous of the entire family. It wasn’t that her parents weren’t rich like the Maxwells—­well, it wasn’t only that. It wasn’t that the Green house was a small ranch outside town. It wasn’t that Keely had longed for a brother or sister and had remained an only-­lonely. It wasn’t even that her parents were allergic to animals, so she never had a kitten or puppy. She never even had a damn hamster!

But she wouldn’t have traded her parents for anyone. Her father was a car mechanic who taught her how to change a tire and make window washer fluid. Her mother was a nurse who taught her how to use a butterfly bandage and stop a nosebleed. Mr. and Mrs. Green were well-­liked in the community, and they loved Keely with all their hearts. Her father taught her to surf cast and bodyboard. He showed her where the prickly pear cactus grew on Coatue and where the sweetest wild blueberries grew on the moors. He told her why the Red Sox and the Patriots were the best teams anywhere, ever. He gave her books by Jack London and Jules Verne so she wouldn’t read only what he called “girly books.” Her mother adored him. She made delicious jams and jellies from the fruits they picked. She dressed and grilled the fish they caught and brought home. When she could, she went with them in late autumn, during islander scalloping time. The three of them drove to Great Point in the winter to see all the seals, and the first “book” Keely wrote was about an orphaned seal adopted by a family just like hers.

Isabelle loved hanging out at Keely’s house because she could escape her noisy family, and Keely loved being at Isabelle’s house because she loved being around that noisy family. Plus, secretly, Keely had a crush on Sebastian.

Customer Reviews

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Surfside Sisters: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
So good, I didn't stop reading until I finished it!
Lakelady-reader 15 days ago
Nancy Thayer never disappoints. Surfside Sisters is a Nancy Thayer novel, that takes places predominately on the beautiful island of Nantucket, MA. Ms Thayer brings you to her beloved Nantucket Island through the eyes of Keely Green and Isabelle Maxwell, childhood friends who grow up and apart on the island. Surfside Sisters artfully takes you through Keely Greens life full of envy, guilt and forgiveness. Throw in a little romance and heartbreak and you have the recipe for yet again another Nancy Thayer summer hit.
Anonymous 19 days ago
I loved it and always love this author's books. Perfect summer light read developing a relationship when the girls were young and the turns that friendship took as teenagers and young women. Couldn't put it down, read it is one sitting.
Renwarsreads 4 months ago
I really liked this book! The protagonist, Keely, was such a good person, always trying to do the right thing. I didn't really like anyone in the Maxwell family even though they were a big part of the story. This book deals with so many different topics, friendship, love, family, illness and through it all Keely is the person who you keep routing for!! And her mom Eloise too!
Anonymous 4 months ago
I love reading Nancy Thayer’s books. This one was good, but I guess I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have her other ones. It was an interesting tale of two girls, Keely and Isabelle, her best friend. They grew apart over the selfishness of Isabelle. Keely becomes a published writer before Isabelle. But it is a great story of forgiveness, understanding and becoming friends again. Quick read.
SunnyCarolinaGirl 6 months ago
I always look forward to Nancy Thayer's books and love the Nantucket setting. This book feels like a light beach read, but also has some deeper issues. There is a lot of adversity that the main character, Keely, goes through over the course of the book mixed in with successes to balance them out. I enjoyed the book and the setting and would recommend. I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Ballantine Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Anonymous 7 months ago
The girls are real. Everyone remembers what it's like to have a best friend, the good, the goofy, the envy and the joy. we experience it again as we read about Surfside Sisters.Heartwarming to know no matter how much time passes and how long it's been since you last talked, you can pick up right where you left off. Just like Keeley & Isabelle.For Lisa, Marianne and Amalia
Anonymous 7 months ago
As with all of her books that l have read...l loved it. Looking forward to the next one.
jkmeaux 7 months ago
I always like to check out an author's reviews on Goodreads and Amazon before requesting a title and was extremely excited to be approved for this title by NetGalley and Random House. Although I enjoyed the book it did not meet my expectations. The beautiful friendship Keely and Isabelle had as children became petty and childish in high school. Isabelle became a self-centered brat and Keely should have written her off. Everything worked out in the end, and there were very touching scenes throughout the story that made the book more than worth my while to read. I also discovered I own one of the author's books in my e-book library and look forward to reading it. Overall, I still highly recommend Nancy Thayer. Her talent shined throughout the pages and I'm sure her other books show her gift much better.
KVM 8 months ago
I enjoyed this book, but not like I loved the others I have read by Nancy Thayer. I think I found the conflicts going on lasted way too long between Keely and Isabelle. I also found there was too much back and forth between Sebastian and Keely. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it but I think there was just too much going on in this book. I enjoyed the interaction between Keely and her mother and I thought that was handled very well, I would enjoy a follow up with her mom...maybe a romance in the future? Pick up this book, read it and enjoy it!!
Itsahardbacklife4me 8 months ago
Surfside sisters is a great beach read! Set in Nantucket, which is always a plus! Keely becomes best friends with Isabelle early in life. They are the sister each other didn’t have. Keely’s family is no where near as well off as Isabelle’s. They both dream of being a writer someday and falling in love. Keely moves to New York once she hits it big as a writer, where Isabelle stays in Nantucket. When Keely’s mom starts declining, she heads back to take care of her. Keely and Isabelle have a falling out over Tommy. I was a little annoyed with this part of the story- Keely should’ve never dated her friends ex, but Isabelle comes off as a spoiled little rich girl. However, the story did hold my attention and I found myself hoping for a win for Keely! She needed one. Thank you to netgalley and Ballantine books for the ARC!
JenD99 8 months ago
A great beach read featuring Nantucket, a place I love. But also more than just another typical beach read- with more plot lines, characters and locations which added interest. I loved several of the characters and found it hard to put the book down at times! Some of the characters were more developed or believable than others, but part of the author's skill is in developing multiple significant characters, not just one. Because the story takes place over many years, there were some sections where it didn't go into a lot of detail or wrapped up a story line rather quickly. Understandable given the time span, but some areas left me wanting more. This was my first Nancy Thayer book, and I'm excited to read more of her work. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand will love this one. Thank you to netgalley for an advanced copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 8 months ago
JGirotti 8 months ago
A perfect beach read! Surfside Sisters follows the life of Keely Green who grew up on Nantucket with her best friend Isabelle Maxwell. Both girls had always dreamed of being writers and now Keely is living that dream in NYC, but she misses Isabelle. Due to a falling out, the girls are no longer speaking and it's left a hole in Keely's life and kept her from finding true happiness.When Keely returns to the island to help her mother she has to face Isabelle, the choices that they both made and Isabelle's brother Sebastian who Keely has always harbored feelings for. I breezed through this one in one weekend. The perfect summer beach read. Light and entertaining. Thank you to #NetGalley and Random House Publishing for allowing me to read an advance copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion. Unputdownable-ness: High Ugly Cry Potential: Medium-Low LOL: Low Steaminess: Medium-Low Character Development: OK Originality: Low Quality of Writing: Good Intellectual Depth: Low Emotionally Trying/Hard to Read: Easy Read
Anonymous 8 months ago
I really enjoyed The Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer. It was a pleasant, easy-to-read, cozy story with a richly vibrant, descriptive setting that truly came to life on the page. I also really liked the main character, Keeley Green, a Nantucket native and aspiring author. I admired her positive outlook, her can-do attitude, her determination and also compassion and generosity for others. I also loved that she was a book lover and author and we got a sneak peak into a writer’s life. However, as much as I enjoyed this novel, I also had some major issues with it. The main theme of this story seemed to be envy. It was repeated throughout and not as a cautionary tale, along with a hearty dose of whining and proclamations of winning. A few of the key characters were absolutely reprehensible, selfish, and self-serving people, who were not portrayed in an adverse manner. The friendship between the two girls, Keeley and Isabelle, was fraught with trouble and tension. It wasn’t a healthy relationship, by any means, but again, this issue was glossed over. The romances were a bit abrupt and could have benefited from more development to make them credible. In so many of the relationships and interactions, I couldn’t help thinking that people in real life just don’t behave that way or treat others like that. While the conclusion was nice, it also wrapped up a little too tidily. I love a good happy ending as much as the next reader, but sometimes a story can can come across a bit too perfect, especially when so many issues have been laid bare up until that point and not altogether resolved. So, I did have some significant issues with this story, but despite that, I still really enjoyed the setting of Nantucket Island and NYC, the authorship aspects, the family and friendship focus and the tempo and general feel of the story. It was an entertaining story and pleasurable read, despite my reservations.
seasaltdaydreams 9 months ago
Surfside Sisters follows Keely and Isabelle, best friends growing up on the island of Nantucket, uniquely connected by their shared love of writing. Told entirely in Keely’s voice, the story starts when they’re children and works it’s way through their adolescence and into adulthood. Their relationship is deeply complicated. They understand each other in ways that no one else ever has or will, but they’re deeply competitive with one another. Keely is envious of Isabelle’s wealth and seemingly easy life. Isabelle is in turn deeply resentful of Keely’s success with writing. I actively despised Isabelle. I found her self-absorbed and incredibly selfish. I hated how she constantly let Keely down, and always acted like anything good that happened to Keely was Keely attacking her. And then I was frustrated with Keely for constantly putting up with that behavior. I found myself actively engaging in schadenfreude every time something unpleasant happened to Isabelle, I hated her that much. In contrast, I loved Keely’s character. Despite everything Isabelle did or said to her, she still acted like the bigger person. She was also the best daughter, always putting her families needs before her own, coming back to the island whenever her mother needed her, taking on whatever job to help pay the bills. Her unique voice and authentic optimism carried the story. While I did thoroughly enjoy this book, I had a hard time picking it up when I put it down. I read it in about 3 big spurts. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. The relationship between Keely and Isabelle fascinated me. It would definitely be an excellent beach read.
FrancescaFB 9 months ago
Anonymous 9 months ago
I loved this book! Most of the book is based in a small beach town and is about two childhood best friends who over the years grow apart, yet still care so much about each other. Keely Green and Isabelle Maxwell, one wealthy and one middle class, bonded over both wanting to be writers. I love how the book starts when they are little kids up until their 30's. The love Keely had for Isabelle was so amazing to me, no matter what she did to her, she still rooted and cared for her so deeply. I pretty much guessed the ending in the middle of the book and I have to say I think I enjoyed the first half of the book better but still couldn't put it down.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I enjoyed this book and really wanted to "love" it but there were a couple of aspects of the structure of the story that prevented me from giving this a rave review. The book focuses on the friendship between Keely and Isabelle, two young woman who grew up together and also grew apart together. Both have dreamed about becoming writers when they grew up. Where Keely grew up in a middle class home, Isabelle grew up in an affluent family who traveled often. Keely has been infatuated with Isabelle's brother Sebastian for as long as she can remember. I understood the puppy love that Keely felt for Sebastian but had a difficult time understanding her continued attraction to him as an adult. Sebastian's character was never truly fleshed out and he seemed to pop in and out of the story without us ever getting a clear picture of his thoughts and intentions. There was very little development of Keely and Sebastian's relationship at an adult level so I wasn't very vested in whether they eventually would get together. I think that the story would have been much stronger romantically if Keely and Sebastian had some basis for an adult relationship beyond unrequited childhood emotions. As the story progresses, Isabelle seems to grow more selfish and vengeful. Some of her actions are unforgivable. I feel that the story was meant to show how these two women could find places in each-other's lives as adults as well as mutual forgiveness. However, the character of Isabelle never seemed to grow as a person and even at the end seemed rather selfish. I couldn't root for their friendship because I didn't feel that Isabelle was a person I would want to be friends with. Although the book was enjoyable, it could have been much deeper with some additional character development.
paulalala09 9 months ago
Keely and Isabelle always thought they would be best friends for the long haul, through thick and thin. Jealousy and envy divide them, each having accomplishments the other wants. They are drawn further apart by life and its unfair or petty turns. Isabelle is raised rich and her upbringing shows through in her jealousy, anger and inability to move on. Keely moves forward each day wishing things were back to where they once were with Isabelle. It is a moving novel of friendship on the edges of turmoil, strife and underlying love for each other that somehow must burst through to make the world right again. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
kaitlynspet 9 months ago
5 stars plus. Nancy Thayer's Surfside Sisters is a wonderful work of contemporary fiction. Lara and Isabelle live in Nantucket and want to be writers when they grow up. There are obstacles to overcome and sometimes even jealousy gets in the way of their friendship and careers. Will their friendship stand the test of time? Enjoyable read just in time for summer. I would definitely recommend it.
Teri1957 9 months ago
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thayer never fails to write fabulous books! The trials and tribulations the characters deal with always seem to have a happy ending. Very enjoyable read!
bookluvr35SL 9 months ago
Keely and Isabelle grew up together on Nantucket. The two were inseparable from the time they were small. Keely was from a small working class family and had to work during the summers, and Isabelle's family was wealthy, and they spent the summers having lavish vacations abroad. As much as Keely loved Isabelle and her family, she was also jealous of all that Isabelle had. As they got older, the chasm between them widened as Isabelle's life expanded and Keely's seemed to narrow. When Keely becomes a published author, the rift between them tears the two apart, threatening to sink their friendship for good. I loved the book. The characters were so real and relate-able. I loved the Nantucket setting. This makes the perfect beach read. I highly recommend it!
dcl55 9 months ago
Surfside Sisters by author Nancy Thayer is another book set on the island of Nantucket and is about friendship, loyalty, and family. Keely Green has wanted to be a writer since she was a child. She and her best friend Isabelle Maxwell spend their time each day together planning stories and dreaming of one day being authors of best-selling novels. Keely has grown up in a modest home with her mom who works as a nurse. Isabelle is from a wealthy family and seems to have always had everything. As the two girls grow up and make life choices, they become estranged because of Tommy. Keely works hard to keep her focus on her writing even as she deals with disappointments. The book weaves through the years, romances, success and failures for Keely and Isabelle. I enjoyed the story very much but felt the last couple of chapters rushed the story to an ending. The character of Sebastian gets a bit lost.
Dianne57 9 months ago
Yes, I did receive this book as an ARC and with that said I am going to be brutally honest about what I thought of this book. I also find (looking over the other reviews) that I may be alone in my opinions. The low rating may be because of my age or maybe my taste in books. But this is how I genuinely feel about this book. I must say that I was very disappointed. I expected an adult novel and what I got was a young adult (at best) novel. I might even go as far as saying that this was a novel for teenagers. This was a novel that deals with jealousy, envy, crushes that lasted forever, among other trivial things. They were just the most childish people I have ever met. The most honestly written parts dealt with death and illness. I could not connect (as an adult) with any of the characters. Some were annoying others pretentious and, others unrealistically portrayed. The author took more time describing the surroundings and everyone's love for the island than she did in having the characters grow. I also saw a lot of problems with the storyline/timeline, and that kept taking me out of the zone. Had the characters grew in any manner, I would have been thrilled, but they did not. I would have loved this book as a teenager, but as a mature adult, I did not.