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Authors: Beatriz Williams

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A Hundred Summers

BOOK: A Hundred Summers
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ALSO BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS

Overseas

G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

Publishers Since 1838

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, USA

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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group visit penguin.com

Copyright © 2013 by Beatriz Williams

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Published simultaneously in Canada

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Williams, Beatriz.

A hundred summers / Beatriz Williams.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-101-59651-7

1. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 2. Rhode Island—Fiction. 3. World War, 1939–1945—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3623.I55643H86 2013 2013002259

813'.6—dc23

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

To the victims and survivors of the great New England hurricane of 1938

and, as always, to my husband and children

Contents

Also by Beatriz Williams
Title Page
Copyright
Dedication
Epigraph
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Epilogue
Historical Note
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain,
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
MATTHEW ARNOLD
“Dover Beach” (1867)

1.

ROUTE 5, TEN MILES SOUTH OF HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE
October 1931

O
ne hundred and twelve miles of curving pavement lie between the entrance gates of Smith College and the Dartmouth football stadium, and Budgie drives them as she does everything else: hell-for-leather.

The leaves shimmer gold and orange and crimson against a brilliant blue sky, and the sun burns unobstructed overhead, teasing us with a false sense of warmth. Budgie has decreed we drive with the top down, though I am shivering in the draft, huddled inside my wool cardigan, clutching my hat.

She laughs at me. “You should take your hat off, honey. You remind me of my mother holding on to her hat like that. Like it’s the end of civilization if someone sees your hair.” She has to shout the words, with the wind gusting around her.

“It’s not that!” I shout back. It’s because
my
hair, released from the enveloping dark wool-felt cloche, will expand into a Western tumbleweed, while Budgie’s sleek little curls only whip about artfully before settling back in their proper places at journey’s end. Even her hair conforms to Budgie’s will. But this explanation is far too complicated for the thundering draft to tolerate, so I swallow it all back, pluck the pins out of my hat, and toss it on the seat beside me.

Budgie reaches forward and fiddles with the radio dials. The car, a nifty new Ford V-8, has been equipped with every convenience by her doting father and presented to her a month ago as an early graduation present. Nine months early, to be exact, because he, in his trust and blindness, wants her to make use of it during her last year at Smith.

You should get out and have some fun, buttercup,
he told her, beaming.
You college girls study too hard. All work and no play.

He dangled the keys before her.

Are you sure, Daddy?
Budgie asked, eyes huge and round, like Betty Boop’s.

No, really. It’s the truth; I was standing right there. We’ve been friends since we were born, only two months apart, she at the beginning of summer and me at the end. Our families summer together at the same spot in Rhode Island, and have done so for generations. She’s dragged me along with her this morning on the basis of that friendship, that ancient tie, though we don’t really run in the same circles at college, and though she knows I have no interest in football.

The Ford makes a throaty roar as she accelerates into a curve, swallowing the scratchy voices from the radio. I grasp the door handle with one hand and the seat with another.

Budgie laughs again. “Come on, honey. I don’t want to miss the warm-ups. The boys get so serious once the game starts.”

Or something like that. The wind carries away two words out of three. I look out the side and watch the leaves hurry by, the height of the season, while Budgie chatters on about boys and football.

As it turns out, we
have
missed the warm-ups, and most of the first quarter as well. The streets of Hanover are empty, the stadium entrance nearly deserted. A distant roar spills over the brick walls, atop the muffled notes of a brass band. Budgie pulls the car up front, on a grassy verge next to a sign that says
NO PARKING
, and I struggle with my hat and pins.

“Here, let me do it.” She takes the pins from my cold fingers, sticks them ruthlessly into my hat, and turns me around. “There! You’re so
pretty
, Lily. You know that, don’t you? I don’t know why the boys don’t notice. Look, your cheeks are so pink. Aren’t you glad we had the top down?”

I fill my lungs with the clean golden-leaf New Hampshire air and tell her yes, I’m glad we had the top down.

BOOK: A Hundred Summers
9.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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