Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore: Book Review

Bittersweet, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, fictionFiction
Released May, 2014
402 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: eGalley provided by publisher via NetGalley

Plot Summary

When the beautiful and wealthy Genevra (Ev) Winslow invites her very average roommate, Mabel Dagmar, to spend the summer at her family’s summer retreat, Mabel enters a world of secrets, lies, threats, and betrayal.

My Thoughts

Bittersweet was one of the summer releases I was most looking forward to and, now that I’ve read it, it’s my favorite summer book so far! It joins We Were Liars in the category of summer books about “extremely wealthy families behaving badly in private vacation compounds” (yes, that seems to be a budding category these days…and an exciting one!). I would be shocked if Bittersweet doesn’t end up being a hot conversation topic this summer and it will probably go on my Best Books of the Year List in December (click here to see last year’s list).

Like We Were Liars, I don’t want to say too much about Bittersweet‘s plot. It’s best just to go in blind. I will say that this story is about secrets, tragedy, redemption, and the ripple effects of actions. And, no one is who they seem to be. You will be questioning everything right up until the last page.

Bittersweet reminded me a bit of The Great Gatsby. Mabel serves as the narrator with an outside perspective on the world of wealth, status, and privilege that the Winslows inhabit, just as Nick Carraway did in Gatsby. Both provide astute social observations on the ways of the wealthy, but also harbor desires to be one of them…which puts them in more precarious positions.

I loved the writing in this book – it has a soothing rhythm and is littered with pitch perfect social observations of the Winslows and their world.

“They were a perfect, particular breed of animal, like racehorses or hounds, thin-ankled and groomed. It was easy to tell those of us not related by blood – we were  almost all shorter and darker, but there was something else: we hung back.”

“I know you’re picturing gold candlesticks and infinity pools, but this place they made isn’t decadent, no, it’s rustic the way only a rich person’s place can be, with money flowing under it invisibly, so that they get to pretend they’re just like the rest of us.”

Bittersweet‘s writing and social observations balance out the plot twists (don’t worry, there are lots!), while We Were Liars is more heavily reliant on frenetic action. I actually preferred having this balance – it made Bittersweet seem a bit more “adult” without hurting the fun one bit.  

Bittersweet is going on my 2014 Summer Reading and Book Club Recommendations lists.

You May Also Like:

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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  1. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea wrote:

    Looking forward to Bittersweet and We are Liars – both sound like ones I’d enjoy

    Posted 5.29.14 Reply
  2. Thanks for your recommendation. I’ve added this to my ‘To Read’ list.

    Posted 5.29.14 Reply
  3. Michelle wrote:

    I adored We Were Liars. I am definitely going to have to check this one out now. Thanks!

    Posted 5.29.14 Reply
  4. SOLD! I can’t get enough of “extremely wealthy families behaving badly in private vacation compounds” and loved We Were Liars. This is going straight to the top of my wish list.

    Posted 5.29.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I know, right?! Always pure entertainment in that genre!

      Posted 5.29.14 Reply
  5. Love your take on it. I too loved Bittersweet and We Are Lairs. I also see you recommended A Hundred Summers…it was one of my faves last year. There is just something about summer reads about the wealthy and their odd lives. Things aren’t always what they seem.

    Posted 5.30.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I now – I love “wealthy behaving badly” reads for summer! Have you read Beatriz Williams’ latest? The Secret Life of Violet Grant. It’s high up on my TBR list, so hopefully I’ll get to it in the next few weeks!
      Thanks for stopping by – by the way, though I live in NYC, I grew up in the South and am a Southerner at heart!

      Posted 5.30.14 Reply

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