September 21st 1938, and at Serena Lyons’ exquisite Hamptons estate, the footmen are serving vintage champagne, the orchestra is playing a favorite tune, and the house is lit so brightly it could almost be mistaken for a star in the distance. The occasion is the last party of the season at The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club and anybody who is anybody has turned out in force. All except for one. As her guests arrive, Serena watches from her bedroom window, searching for a face in the crowd: The Summer Visitor she has never forgotten.
In the tradition of The Great Gatsby and Mrs. Dalloway, Samantha Bruce-Benjamin delivers a haunting and evocative insight into five minutes in the life of a celebrated Hamptons society hostess, set against the backdrop of The Great Hurricane of 1938.
For thirty years she has waited for him at the start of every party. But on this last evening, the ritual assumes a greater significance. On a road nearby, Kit Peel, is at last returning to her, bringing with him the answers to the unresolved mystery of his disappearance at the age of twenty-one, and the truth behind the secrets that will finally set her free. If only he can get to her in time; if only Serena’s estranged husband, Captain Lyons, will allow him close enough.
As The Great Hurricane of 1938 moves over Long Island, finally reaching the fabled Hamptons, the place and its people are irrevocably changed. Over the course of five minutes, as Serena relives the defining moments of her life, we learn of the tragedies that left their indelible mark, the promises that were made and broken, and the decisions that brought them all there that evening, their destinies forever intertwined and sealed.
Based on historical research about the Hamptons at the peak of its grandeur, the devastation that the 1938 hurricane wrought, and a real supper club called The Leisure Hour and Supper Club, Bruce-Benjamin spins a story that will remind readers of Rebecca or, more recently, Rules of Civility.
SAMANTHA BRUCE-BENJAMIN is the author of The Art of Devotion, an Examiner and Bookreporter Best Book of 2010, and The Westhampton Leisure Hour and Supper Club. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, she holds a Master of Arts with Honors in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh. A former Random House and BBC literary editor, she divides her time between Edinburgh and New York.