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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy

The Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, atmosphere of Shoulder Season was a standout element, but the characters' interactions and some of the transitions within the book felt jarring.

Beautiful, sleepy Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 1981 feels like an unlikely setting for a Playboy resort. But for small-town teen orphan Sherri Taylor, the resort is an open door to a life of excitement and opportunity, an appealing shift from the dead-end, broke life path she'd be on without it.

With plenty of youthful explorations of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, plus young women striving to strike the seemingly impossible balance of femininity and control within the male-controlled power structures of the time, Shoulder Season spans forty years, an important love triangle, and the course of a woman's life, from a modest Midwestern start to new beginnings in the California desert.

I found some of the transitions and conversations in the book jarring, and I wasn't always clear about Sherri's internal motivations; some interactions between characters--and therefore their relationships--didn't ring true to me. I didn't really buy into Sherri having deep feelings for either of the men in her sights. I ultimately wished the story had ended with more about Sherri than her reactions to various men and their sometimes disappointing or shocking decisions. I very much enjoyed her vulnerability as a young woman and especially the glimpses we got into her self-assured modern-day self.

The standouts of Shoulder Season for me were the atmospheric setting, the training and strict rules surrounding Bunnies' behavior (and even their allowed body movements), and the women's bonds and rivalries with each other.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Clancy's first novel, The Second Home, was published last year, when the author was 52.

Shoulder Season was inspired by the actual Playboy resort (which predated what is now the Grand Geneva) that was once in the area, and she interviewed workers and guests from the Midwestern hub where hit musicians, family vacationers, single men, and Bunnies all came together for the promise of something bigger--or at least an escape from the expected.


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