Continuing with my resolution to read more books from my own to-be-read pile, I am reviewing The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan today. This book was published by Lake Union in April 2020 and has been patiently waiting for me on my Kindle since I bought my copy back then. It was that gorgeous evocative cover that initially caught my attention.
About the book
A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances.
Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things. She’d head to college in New York City. Her career as a fashion editor would flourish. But first, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.
Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. Especially when her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories of first love, broken hearts, and faraway dreams. It’s time to finally face the past—for the sake of her family and her own happiness. Maybe in reconciling the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived, Boop will discover it’s never too late for a second chance.
The Last Bathing Beauty is a beautifully written evocative book taking the reader from Michigan in 2017 back to the America of the 1950s and to Stern’s Summer Resort in South Haven.
I particularly enjoyed the focus on lasting friendships. Boop, Doris and Georgia were all friends in the 1950s and even now in their 80s, their friendship remained strong. They knew all about each others hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows over the decades but even now some secrets are yet to be revealed. It was touching to read about the continuing love and support they had for each other.
When Boop’s beloved granddaughter Hannah finds herself in a similar situation to Boop all these years ago, Boop is determined she will have more choices. All kinds of memories are brought to the surface and the sweetness of first love for Boop, or Betty as she was known then, is wonderfully recounted.
I enjoyed the way the story moved from the elderly Boop to her younger self and we find out what happened way back in 1951 and how that determined the path her life took. There was so much she had kept from others over the years and kept within herself and it was time for it to be acknowledged. As her granddaughter wisely said, “You should own all pieces of your life, good or bad… They make up who you are.”
The Last Bathing Beauty is a lovely story about friendship, first love and second chances. The ending was particularly emotional and satisfying. I highly recommend this book.
About the Author
Amy Sue Nathan is the author of four novels and the founder of the award-winning Women’s Fiction Writers blog, named a Best Website for Writers by Writer’s Digest. She is a frequent speaker and workshop leader, a member of Tall Poppy Writers, and a writing coach for aspiring authors. Amy lives near Philadelphia and is the mom of two grown children and a willing servant to one geriatric dog. For more information, visit http://www.amysuenathan.com.