ELIZABETH KELLY’S THE LAST SUMMER OF THE CAMPERDOWNS & DARK CHOCOLATE LAVENDER GIN TRUFFLES
When you’re 13, summer vacation is supposed to be carefree, and Riddle Camperdown hopes to spend the summer of 1972 at her family’s Cape Cod house “sipping iced tea and eating radish and mayonnaise sandwiches, listening to birds chirp, watching the mulberries ripen, hearing the waves roll in.” But she’s not going to — Riddle’s summer is instead going to be filled with secrets, lies, and discovering just how difficult it can be to tell the truth.
Riddle’s Cape Cod is filled with decadent parties, riding horses, and Old Money — her father is a well-meaning but weak politician, her mother a beautiful, caustic actress. Her mother’s best friend, the hysterical, gossipy Gin, trains horses and throws an elaborate hunting party each summer. Riddle, who has fiery red hair and would prefer to spend her time reading to socializing, doesn’t quite fit in with this crew, which also includes the Devlin family — the father is a former flame of her mother’s and the handsome, sophisticated son, Harry, is a few years older than Riddle.
While Riddle copes the best she can in this world, things get much, much worse when she witnesses an awful crime in Gin’s barn. She doesn’t understand what she saw and heard, so she doesn’t tell anyone. But when the perpetrator catches on that she knows, he begins to torment her, scaring her into continued silence. It turns out that every character in the novel is hiding something, and as the secrets are slowly revealed, their carefully crafted world starts to fall apart.
Elizabeth Kelly’s novel is a page-turner, and Riddle is sympathetic and relatable as she narrates the story from 20 years in the future. The Last Summer of the Camperdowns is more serious and sadder than I expected, but it’s a great book to pick up to close out the summer weather.
In The Last Summer of the Camperdowns, everyone keeps secrets from each other and puts up barriers to hide their real selves. Truffles also have a layer around their center, hiding what’s inside. These truffles have a slightly herbal taste from gin (I used Death’s Door) and floral notes from the lavender.