Summer People by Elena Graf (Hobbs book #6)

It is finally here, Hobbs book #6: „Summer People” and I have been absorbed into the Hobbs women’s lives after the lockdown because of the covid-19 pandemic and I really enjoyed how their lives have changed and how they evolved. Elena Graf has written a complex plot that made the characters even more remarkable, flawed, yet extraordinary on how they tackle life, help others, dream and love with all the beauty within, even if it’s hard or even tragic, sometimes.

I love the continuity of the plot from Hobbs book #5 – „The Dark Winter” and I was excited to read more on Lucy’s and Liz’s romance, how their friends would react and the town of Hobbs itself.

I was wondering what new challenges are they going through now. Also, I was waiting for a new addition of characters, and they are present, just as the title suggests: the new (not so) temporary summer people.

The summer people (women) are Melissa Morgenstern, a forty something trust lawyer from Boston of Jewish heritage („a willowy woman with long, dark hair and the kind of figure only the young enjoy with voltaic blue eyes”), Courtney Barnes („a pretty woman, with long, blonde hair and warm brown eyes”), the new assistant principal of the Hobbs elementary school and Denise Chantal, a very attractive transgender singer who will replace Maggie as the new music director at Lucy’s church.

An unexpected surprise is another fallen angel: Susan Gedney, the woman who inspired Lucy to become a priest and also, her first lesbian lover. She looks like a „beloved elementary teacher with fading blond hair and gentle eyes with a face of saintly quality”.

„Summer People” is the book #6 in the Hobbs series by Elena Graf.

Let’s do a little summary of the previous Hobbs series books.

The Hobbs series describes the life of a community of lesbian women in their fifties or sixties living at their best in the town of Hobbs, Maine.

In Hobbs book #1 – „High October” we are witnesses of the romantic love between Liz and Maggie, who have loved each other since college, but got separated by Maggie’s parents, she married a man and she meets Liz by accident again after forty years in Hobbs Maine and they fall in love again.

In Hobbs book #2 – „This Is My Body” we are introduced to the most original character  of them all, Mother Lucy, a former opera star at the Met Opera in New York, who has become an Episcopalian reverend and moved to Hobbs Maine, and met and fall in love with Erika, a philosophy professor and Liz’s best friend.

In Hobbs book #3 – „Love In Time Of Corona” we couldn’t wait to see Police Chief Brenda Harrison happy in love. She falls for Cherie Bois, Liz’s new medical assistant, who seems to hate Brenda and she doesn’t know why and how to make Cherie know her, the woman behind the uniform.

In Hobbs book #4 – „Thirsty Thursdays” we are excited (at least I am), to enjoy the love story between sweet architect Sam McKinnon and the almost melting ice queen, retired Wall-Street fund manager, Olivia Enright, who has become one of my favorite characters in the series, because she is just incorrigible.

In Hobbs book #5 – „The Dark Winter”, the two unexpected turning points turned the Hobbs women’s life around.

This is my favorite book from the series, because it holds everything an amazing novel could do: love, drama, realistic themes like covid-19 and black lives matter, friendship, tenderness, forgiveness, revenge and passion.

The remarkable characters are working hard to overcome the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, which caused depression, financial problems, job losses, addiction, even suicide attempts. It is absolutely believable and I can see ourselves playing their roles.

They can’t be perfect as nobody is in this new condition the pandemic has brought upon us all. They are flawed and I love that about them, because they are more credible and more reliable (more humane).

Flawed characters present a sense of relief in reminding ourselves that complex thoughts, feelings, and desires are not as uncommon as we might think.

In Hobbs book #6: „Summer People” the Hobbs women are facing new challenges after the lockdown because of the pandemic.

Dr. Liz Stolz is now worried about the Delta variant of the covid-19, but she is grateful that the people in Hobbs got vaccinated and she is more relaxed now. She is still my hero, because she wants to help and save everybody. As she and Lucy explore their new found love, they seem even more amazing together (the next power couple), as the Hobbs’s most trusted persons, they need to see how their romance will be seen by their friends and by the town’s people.

Lucy still mourns after her lost wife, Erika and wants to take things slowly.

Liz encourages Lucy to go back to school and to finally write her book about sex and religion. For this, Lucy needs to do some travel to New York.

Brenda and Cherie are happily married and Olivia and Sam have some troubles as Olivia wants Sam to give up her home and move in with her, but Sam is not ready yet.

The summer people Melissa Morgenstern, a forty something trust lawyer from Boston of Jewish heritage and Courtney Barnes, the new assistant principal of the Hobbs elementary school really enjoy each other’s company and would like to explore their mutual attraction.

Melissa is a partner at the law firm she works for in Boston. She is an accomplished woman, professionally, while personally she can only count some failed relationships. Melissa came to Hobbs to support her mother after her father’s death. Ruth lives in a big home facing the salt marsh and has her own prejudices on people and her daughter’s love life. Melissa is desperate to find her mother a new suitor, because that is what Ruth wants and it will, also, give Melissa freedom to live her romance with Courtney.

Melissa

Courtney really needs this job as the new assistant principal of the Hobbs elementary school, because she has to support her daughter, Kaylee, and all they can afford now is to live in a rented trailer, because her ex-husband is unemployed and can’t pay child support.

There is a big financial issue between them and also, Melissa’s mother, Ruth, has a problem with Courtney, because she is not Jewish.

Courtney

The lesbian community of women in Hobbs helps Melissa and Courtney to understand what they can have; Lucy offers Melissa moral support and a little counseling, while Liz offers Courtney a place to live, when Melissa’s mother refuses it.

Then, there is Denise Chantal, a transgender singer (countertenor) who will replace Maggie as the new music director at Lucy’s church. Lucy loves her voice and Denise is facing an important surgery, so Lucy does everything in her power (and with Liz’s help) to hire Denise and do yet another premiere in Hobbs, by hiring a trans woman at the church (Maine diocese).

Denise

Last, but not the least of the summer people is Susan Gedney, the woman who inspired Lucy to become a priest and her first lesbian lover. She is a surprise to Lucy and Liz, because she didn’t announce her visit or her intentions. She is invited by Tom to stay, while Lucy is away to New York. When Lucy returns she has no choice but to face and help Susan. Liz realizes first what Susan’s intentions are and warns Lucy. I loved Liz because even when she senses Susan’s jealousy, she doesn’t stop helping her.

Susan

I love how Lucy follows her dreams this time and how Liz is being patient for a change.

They make a wonderful couple and even if they are not perfect, they are flawed and they have done their share of mistakes, they never stop learning and evolving as humans, women and never stop helping others and learn how to love from this new perspective.

They are the most humane characters I have ever read about.

They are truly exceptional.

And all the other characters orbiting around them become remarkable through their example for kindness, goodness, humanity, friendship, care and love.

I liked how, once more, Liz is intrigued by Lucy’s religious persona and her humane persona and doesn’t know how to see her as a whole and is somehow scared by Lucy’s priest hands. What an unique perspective!

Also, religion plays an important part in the character’s lives. Melissa is Jewish and her sister Becca is a priest and sometimes serves with Lucy. Melissa’s mother, Ruth doesn’t like the fact that Courtney is not Jewish, but the remarkable Hobbs women find a way to help Melissa, Courtney and Ruth to find a way to understand each other’s views and find a way for love.

Then, there is the sexuality issue: Melissa is a lesbian, while Courtney is bi and Melissa has a prejudice on bi people, considering they are not ready to choose once and for all, to love a woman or to love a man and stop. Lucy helps her understand that sexuality is different, fluid and Courtney also explains that in her opinion, bi people seem to love someone for who he/she is, not for their gender.  

The temporary summer people, are close to become permanent Hobbs residents, as Courtney moves into Liz’s spare apartment, Melissa would really like to move to Hobbs to explore her relationship with Courtney, but her job won’t allow it yet and Denise is practically a permanent Hobbs inhabitant now as the new music director at Lucy’s church.

Susan is another story. She wants Lucy back.

Susan was ordained Episcopalian priest. Yet, Susan was raised in the Catholic religion and still believes chastity is important and she would have enjoyed it with Lucy, but she left Lucy because of it, all these years back and Lucy hadn’t heard a word from Susan until now. As an Episcopalian you don’t have to do that or to live that. Susan doesn’t seem to see that. Also, Susan has other secrets that will come to light and whom else than Lucy and Liz will help her.

I loved the themes touched in the book, they made it more complex and the characters evolved through it: the clash of religions in Susan’s mind, the Jewish view on how Jewish women should marry only other Jewish, to hire a trans woman as the new music director at Lucy’s church, the rich girl / poor girl relationship between Melissa and Courtney, lesbian and bi issues a.s.o.

I know I’m repeating myself, but he characters are truly exceptional and remarkable. Nothing seem to stop the Hobbs women to be who they are now, to grow and evolve each time even more unexpected than before.

I liked Liz’s metaphors with that old-fashion hints, that only Lucy seems to understand.

I loved Liz and Lucy together, how Liz has trouble with the fact that Lucy seems to see her whole and all through her, how she tries to control her bluntness and her childish tendencies and her crazy libido. And, I like Lucy’s opinion on masturbating (if Lucy would have been real, she surely would have been a piece of work and a different kind of a priest, a reformatory one). I also, enjoyed how Liz made order in Lucy’s chaos writing. They seem to complete and complement each other.

I still love Liz – „A fallen idol is still a god.” (Elizabeth Cheresh Allen)

And I love Lucy more – „She is a saint with the lips of a sinner / She is an angel with a devilish kiss.” (n3r)

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