Published: May 13, 2014
Format: via publisher in exchange for an honest review
On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it's the kind of place where swimming boldly is required and the children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with the midnight skinny-dips, the wet dog smell lingering in the air, the moneyed laughter carrying across the still lake, and before she knows it, she has everything she's ever wanted: wealth, friendship, a boyfriend, and, most of all, the sense, for the first time in her life, that she belongs.
But as Mabel becomes an insider, she makes a terrible discovery, which leads to shocking violence and the revelation of the true source of the Winslows' fortune. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and redefine what is good and what is evil, in the interest of what can be hers.
This is one of those stories that is so epic it’s beyond any and everything. Bittersweet has everything that you want in a story. This is the story of Mabel and her relationship with her roommate Ev. After never really talking much during their year at school Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer with her and her rich family. Mabel having no other viable options decides to go despite something telling her not to. Once she’s there she realizes she wasn’t brought there as a friend but more as a cover-up. Ev is having a secret relationship with one of caretakers and uses Mabel to cover-up her secret romance.
Mabel realizes that she is in over her head when she sees the entire Winslow’s in all their glory. They are a family who believes in tradition, old money, and that they feel they are utterly untouchable. They also have secrets so scandalous that it will knock you off your feet. What I find most shocking is that just about everyone knows these secrets and continue to do nothing about them. They just continue to go with the status quo. It's mind boggling! Not to be undone Mabel has one of her own that doesn’t make her any better than them. Mabel soon gets caught up in their lifestyle and wants what they have; even more she wants to be one of them. In the process she soon finds herself in the middle of their drama and secrets but does she had what it takes to stand up for what’s right or does she crumble when they flex their power? At first I saw Mabel as a victim, taken advantage of, maybe even mutilated by these powerful people but then but the end I thought of her as the one doing all of this. She isn’t so innocent in her plans either. She wants what she wants and has no qualms about it.
Bittersweet is one of those summer reads that draws you in with its beautiful landscapes and equally intense writing. Its layers of story lines keeps you locked in and doesn’t let you go. Just when you think you have figured out something, you are thrown a curve ball you never saw coming. Its twists and turns are a thing of beauty. This is one of those books that will leave you shocked, sadden and beyond emotions when you are done. This is one book you have to read to believe.
"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."