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Book Review: The Lost Summers of Newport

By Jessica Oravec

If you could go anywhere for the summer, where would you go? Italy? Martha’s Vineyard? In The Lost Summers of Newport, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White, Newport, Rhode Island, is the hot summer vacation spot for the wealthy in the late 1800s. Everyone is there: the Vanderbilts, the Schuylers, and even the Spragues, a family with newly acquired wealth eager to prove themselves.

In 1899, Ellen Daniels comes to Newport to be the music teacher of Maybelle Sprague. Alone and desperate, Ellen sees her time with the Spragues as a chance for a new life. But all is not as it seems in the family’s Newport mansion. When a prince comes to court Maybelle, everyone’s lives change.

At nine years old, Lucia (Lucky) comes to America with her Nonna, the Princess di Conti. She always knew that the Sprague mansion was her inheritance, and she married Stuy Sprague after discovering she was pregnant. In 1957, Lucky is living in the Sprague mansion, unhappily married to Stuy (he cheats), and spending her nights chasing her Nonna (who sleepwalks) and her days mothering Joanie and planning the Tiffany Ball. Things happen that upend all their lives, leading Stuy to disappear and Lucky to live out her days in a mansion that begins to crumble around her.

In 2019, Andrea Figuero (Andie) is the show host for Makeover Mansions. She travels to Newport to fix the Sprague mansion and uncover some of the family’s history. Lucky is a recluse, living on the third floor of the house. Her two grandchildren are not very welcoming, and the network sponsors want more flash and scandal and less history. While uncovering items at Sprague Hall, Andie ends up unearthing a scandal that changes everyone’s lives.

It’s always a gamble reading a book written by multiple authors, but this book is well written and well researched. The storylines are well developed and cohesive.