The Goodbye Summer is a novel by Patricia Gaffney, that follows the journey of a woman named Caddie Winger who learns about her past and finds herself in her new future. Ok, pretty deep. But seriously. The reader follows Caddie as she navigates life when her grandmother asks to live in a senior assisted living home, leaving Caddie by herself in her grandmother’s home. Her new independence is a little overwhelming as she is suddenly immersed in the dating world, trying to juggle her appointments as a music instructor and basically find her way.
The Winger women are always independent, Caddie’s own mother leaving her behind with her grandmother when she was a just a girl. So how do these independent women finally settle down and build a happy life?
I felt like this novel was long and the character, though extremely interesting, were not well-developed. I didn’t feel like I had enough time to get to know them all very well, like an old friend. Caddie is descended from a long-line of Winger women who are independent (read: flighty) but I really don’t get that from her personality. She seems like the type that desperately wants stability and to settle down into a life that she doesn’t want to run away from. Her grandmother is battling early Alzheimers or dementia, and it’s difficult for that to really play out because she’s a cooky character anyways, as a off-the-wall artistic with very interesting statues and depictions of life. Christopher is a character created to build up Caddie’s confidence in her love life…but he’s so quick to enter and exit, that he just seems like a jerk who really leaves the relationship too quickly with really no rhyme or reason. Magill has the potential to be an amazing character, but I think he’s underdeveloped and by the time you get to know him, he’s transformed into something completely different than what he was introduced as, leaving the reader wondering about his authenticity as a character.
The only real character that I completely enjoyed was Thea, a patron at Caddie’s grandmother’s home. Thea has a deep secret, but has the joy in life you see very rarely. She seems to be the grandmother/mother figure that Caddie had been wishing for all these years.
Overall, not a bad novel and it’s a pretty easy read. This would be something you should add to your summer reading list!