Another sort of fantasy entirely is delivered in The Days of Summer, by Jill Barnett, the kind of book that's absolutely required for a lazy afternoon basting on a beach, or on a long, long airplane ride. On a terrible night in 1957, a horrible accident kills three people: spoiled, rich Rudy Banning; his wife Rachel, a gifted and famous artist; and rising music star Jimmy Peyton. The tragedy sets in motion a series of events that will take decades to fully play out, for three children are left behind, children whose destinies will become inextricably entwined. The Bannings leave two sons who are doomed to live with their cold, manipulating grandfather, while Peyton leaves a widow and a six-year-old daughter to mourn him. Told in segments across the decades, this is a sometimes nostalgic, always delicious journey through a California we have sometimes forgotten ever existed, deftly unwound for us by a writer in full control of her material.

Barbara Samuel writes novels from her native Colorado. Her latest book is Madame Mirabou's School of Love.

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