Summerlong by Peter S. Beagle

Abe and Joanna have had an arrangement for over twenty years.  He lives with his books summerlongand homebrewed beer on Gardner Island in Washington State, and she lives in a condominium in Seattle.  Togetherness is only a ferry ride away.  They are reasonably content growing old with each other; their main challenge is Joanna’s grown daughter Lily, luckless in love and still growing up.

Disruption of their routine comes in the form of Lioness Lazos, a mysterious young woman who waits tables at their favorite restaurant.  Both Abe and Joanna (and Lily, for a different reason) are immediately taken with Lioness.  Initially homeless, Lioness gladly accepts the offer of Abe’s garage as a residence, and the once moldering building transforms into a real home of sorts.

The island changes as well.  An unheard of stretch of warm weather segues into a lengthy spring and summer.

Other people are beguiled by Lioness, including the neighbor’s children.  Abe and Joanna discover hidden desires of their own.  Lily, at first in love with Lioness, finds a strange and sweet bond with her.  But there are uncanny things that people start noticing, and powers lying beyond the island eventually catch up to Lioness and her idealized corner of the world.

Summerlong brings together classical myth and old love to create a quiet, satisfying fantasy.  In the meeting between the otherworldly and the mundane, all are changed, sometimes unexpectedly.

This one, surprisingly, is my first go at a Peter Beagle book.  He’s been writing novels and short stories, sometimes sporadically, since The Last Unicorn way, way back (OK – 1968).

(William Hicks, Information Services)



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