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Bittersweetby Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Synopses & Reviews
Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.
On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, 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 children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact — and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own.
"The theme of paradise lost courses through this coming-of-age tale tinged with mystery — Beverly-Whittemore's solid, if not particularly inspired, third novel, after 2007's Set Me Free. Self-conscious college scholarship student Mabel Dagmar feels as if she has won the golden ticket when her freshman roommate, Genevra 'Ev' Winslow, an impossibly glamorous scion of the gilded Winslow clan, invites her to spend the summer at Winloch, the family's sprawling estate in Vermont on Lake Champlain. But she soon starts to discover how wrong she is, as with so very much about the Winslows. For all their lean, blond beauty and their designer names, the Winslows — including Birch and Tilde, Ev's parents; and Ev's brother Galway, whose attentions encourage Mabel to fantasize about becoming part of the blue-blooded tribe — have more squalid secrets than her own, with theft, rape, and incest the tip of the viceberg. As the increasingly tragic story unfolds, the taste left in the reader's mouth is more likely to be sour than bittersweet. Agent: Anne Hawkins, John Hawkins & Associates. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Mesmerizing gothic thriller…Bittersweet is worth savoring — it unfolds like a long summer day, leisurely revealing the dark.” People
“What begins a little like Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep quickly warps into a sickly addictive thriller…think ABC’s Revenge when it was good, only more scandalous….With books like Bittersweet to stuff in beach bags, it’s beginning to feel a lot more like summer. A-” Entertainment Weekly
“Beverly-Whittemore has crafted a page-turner riddled with stubborn clues, a twisty plot and beguiling characters.” Kirkus, starred review
“Takes the reader inside the glamorous world of the super-wealthy, where everything is not as it seems, and dark, long-buried family secrets gradually make their way to the surface...its strength lies in its elements of mystery. The result is a page-turner that will keep readers guessing until the end.” BookPage
“Suspenseful and intriguing, filled with characters who both fit the blue-blood mold and break the stereotypes we all associate with the upper class. Her short chapters, with their cliff-hanger endings, will keep readers turning pages late into the night.” Booklist
“Beverly-Whittemore captures both the idyllic beauty of a Vermont summer and its dark shadows…gothic tangles wind the plot more and more tightly.…A suspenseful tale of corruption and bad behavior among wealthy New Englanders. Readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories featuring dark secrets that affect generations will find much that appeals here.” Library Journal
About the Author
Miranda Beverly Whittemore is the author of three novels, including The Effects of Light and Set Me Free, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best book of fiction by an American woman published in 2007. A recipient of the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, she lives and writes in Brooklyn and Vermont.
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