In a mustard-colored house in the Hamptons, four friends gather every August. They are thirty-something these days, and sometimes, they can scarcely bear to revisit the dilapidated and somewhat trashy house. But sentiment and habit draw them back every year.
But this year will be a very different one for Peter, Maddy, Adam and Sara. In the first week of this, their summer retreat, Sara will die in a car accident.
It happens when Sara and Adam are returning from buying ice cream at the Fro-Z-Cone shop. As the effects of this tragedy ripple through all their lives, the after shock also envelopes Sara’s mother Natalie more than any of them. Natalie and Sara have been like a “twosome” of us against the world, ever since Natalie split from her husband many years before. They share many intimate deals of each other’s lives in a way that suggests some boundary issues. They talk by phone almost every day, with a unique greeting—”Surrender, Dorothy.” Like a code, formed years before when they watched The Wizard of Oz over and over.
So now in her grief, Natalie impulsively goes out to the little house on the beach, just to see where Sara was in her last moments. And the friends invite her to stay on.
What unfolds in the weeks that follow will remind everyone of the fragility of life, the bonds that connect friends and family, and the boundaries that need to be rebuilt.
Will Natalie learn how to live without Sara? What will Peter, Maddy, and Adam discover about themselves without their friend? And finally, will they all grow up at last and put an end to what now feels like an extended adolescence?
Surrender, Dorothy: A Novel was a very quick and poignant read. I had already seen a movie based on this book a few times, and couldn’t read the book without envisioning Diane Keaton as Natalie (the mother). What I liked about the book that wasn’t part of the movie was how the author shared bits and pieces of back story for the characters as we met them, or in moments when they were pondering their lives.
Pleasant and enjoyable, and I would give it four stars…or 4.5.