Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Book Review: We'll Have The Summer by Dutch Henry
This review starts with yet another disclaimer. I first met Dutch Henry about two years ago when he visited Lake Writers at Smith Mountain Lake a couple of times. Dutch read the opening chapter of a novel he was working on. I clearly remember mopping mascara and tears from my face because the prose was beautiful and the romance foretold sadness to come. He didn't return because he lives on the far side of Appomattox from the lake and it was too long a drive.
Second disclaimer: It is happenstance that Dutch and I have the same agent, Dawn Dowdle. When I signed with Dawn, I had no idea he had joined her writing group or that she was his agent. Happy Snoopy dance followed with that information. And so Dutch's book is available.
We'll Have The Summer is a multi-faceted love story. Part romance, part not. One story arc is the 35-year romance and marriage of Sam and Mary, owners of a dude ranch. We learn early on that Mary is a cancer survivor with a cloud hanging over her health. When Sam brings home a scrawny horse, Mary recognizes her favorite show horse, one her late daughter rode. The horse's neglect is enough to perk Mary up and give her something to do every day.
Add a group of guests who've come to spend the summer at the dude ranch, learning how to ride, care for horses, and relax. One family, Phillip, Linda and Barbara bring their troubles with them. Phillip is an abusive husband and Dutch hints that he may have abused his step-daughter Barbara too. The troubled teen, Barbara, brings enough attitude with her to ring true. She'd rather be at the mall than on dirty ranch. She's like totally cut off. No cell service.
Dutch writes with a clarity that enables a reader to see and feel what is going on. Words leap off the page and the action sucks the reader into the scene. When Barbara turns out to be a natural horsewoman, Mary sees a chance to return to the state fair for one last competition. She'll ride her daughter's rescued horse.
Dutch is an accomplished writer. Though this is his debut novel, readers can hope it is not his last. It's perfect for book clubs, for a weepy beach read, or for anyone who has loved a horse or been in a long-term loving relationship with a spouse.
The biggest beef I have with this book is that it isn't being sold with a box of tissues. For me, it was a six-tissue read.
Check out Dutch's web site for more about his writing life.
We'll Have The Summer is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.