Cape May

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What to expect

‘BRILLIANTLY UNSETTLING’ Paula Hawkins
SO, SO GOODStylist (The Top 10 Books of 2019)
‘DEVASTATING… A HEADY COCKTAIL’ Mail on Sunday

‘The beaches were empty, the stores were closed and after sunset all the houses on New Hampshire Avenue stood dark’

September 1957.

Newlyweds Henry and Effie arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon.

Young, naïve and already disappointed by the unexpected dullness of married life, they soon fall prey to a decadent and glamorous set – beautiful socialite Clara, wealthy playboy Max and his mysterious half-sister Alma.

As the torrid summer comes to an end and the empty beach town becomes their playground – sneaking into abandoned summer homes, sailing, making love and drinking a great deal of gin – Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with devastating consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives.

Critics Review

  • What a treat. Glamorous and nostalgic and very sexy, Cape May is a novel about marriage, lust, shabby seaside towns and lots of gin. Brilliantly unsettling – one of those books that stays with you.

    Paula Hawkins
  • The new GatsbyWith shades of F Scott Fitzgerald, Revolutionary Road and even Mad Men, this is one of those books that transport you to a different era and leaves you mesmerised by bad behaviour and human failings. It is so, so good.

    Stylist (The Top 10 Books of 2019)
  • The atmosphere of this torrid Fifties psychodrama lingers long after the final page…Southern honeymooners Henry and Effie […] are sucked into a Gatsby-esque bacchanal that unleashes powerful, devastating desiresCheek’s deft way with characters and consequence makes for a heady cocktail.

    Mail on Sunday (Best New Fiction)
  • Cheek’s glamorous and nostalgic first novel is an atmospheric tale of sexual longing and loss in 1950s America that nods to classics like The Great Gatsby and Revolutionary Road

    Independent (30 Best New Books for 2019)
  • Chip Cheek’s Cape May has superb prose, acute psychological insights, and a riveting narrative; though it’s impossible to put down once you’ve started, to call it a “summer read” is dismissive of Cheek’s carefully wrought artfulness.

    Lit Hub
  • Chip Cheek’s eminently readable debut, Cape May, takes a pair of innocent newlyweds from Georgia and transports them to an east coast Bacchanalian landscape where everything goes… Their opening up to each other is tenderly depicted by Cheek, whose sensual writing brings immediate intimacy with his characters and their situation… Cheek’s novel has an atmospheric nostalgia similar to the debuts of Jess Walter and Lisa Klaussmann… Cheek’s success is that the tension lies not just in the promise of an affair between Henry and Alma but also in watching Effie, albeit through her husband’s eyes, draw ever closer to the hedonism. The latter half of the book is given over to the affair, written brilliantly, from the illicit sex, the intoxication of desire, the rush of snatched moments, to the pendulum of Henry’s emotions… Cheek is also good on the hypocrisies of the era, the double standards applied by lothario Henry to all three of the women.

    Irish Times

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