Published earlier this week, Under A Summer Sky is the Connecticut-based author’s fourth adult novel, following The Gin & Chowder Club, Words Get in the Way, and More Than You Know. Rossiter has also written and illustrated stories for a younger audience—including The Way Home, which was selected as one of Smithsonian Magazine’s Notable Books for Children.
As the story opens, readers are introduced to Laney Coleman, who, along with her minister husband, Noah, is raising five sons in an old Cape Cod house that sits beside the water. Also a school teacher, Laney is consumed with the demands of work, family, a new dog, and a health scare—so the unexpected announcement that she and Noah will be hosting a summer wedding for his brother, Micah, is one that fills her with equal parts joy and apprehension.
Laney and Noah’s parental concerns—their youngest son, Asher, is being bullied at school while their eldest, Elijah, is immersed in a new romance that has quickly turned serious—are paramount on their minds, though they are also heavily vested in the travails of their extended family. For instance, Noah’s father, Asa, appears to be in a state of declining health while his wife, Maddie, is made to bear the burden of his care alone. That wedding plans should necessitate the interruption of such private sorrows is perhaps divine intervention.
If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. But Rossiter offsets life’s inherent drama with moments of levity—poetry recitations, pancake breakfasts, church sermons—that celebrate the essence of family and friendship, showing us that times of darkness invite light. Further, she revisits characters from her earlier books, creating an inspired intermingling that will delight longtime readers while enticing newcomers to discover her backlist for the first time. The setting, with its sea breeze and quaint charm, is immediately inviting, adding to the overall sense of familiarity that the author so beautifully evokes.
Nan Rossiter is at the peak of her storytelling abilities with Under A Summer Sky, which is told with the kind of compassion, grace, and wisdom that is nearly unrivaled in contemporary fiction. Her gentle message of faith serves as a poignant reminder that happiness can be found in the wake of heartache, and that new beginnings are often the blessings that result from closure. To read this book is to feel like you’ve come home …