July and August

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-07-14
  • Publisher: Anchor
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Nancy Clark'sJuly and Augustreturns to the New England ofTheHills at Homefor a funny, charming, and bittersweet farewell to the Hill clan. Great-aunt Lily's pile of a house in Towne, Massachusetts, is once again the gathering place for her far-flung grandnieces and grandnephews. As always, their arrival brings a high summer of comedy and drama. While Lily struggles to get her new business venture off the ground, Brooks and Rollins, the uncommonly successful software entrepreneur brothers, turn the heads with their supermodel dates. Cousin Julie announces her wedding to a man who may or may not be imaginary, and the family faces the possibility of a final leave-taking of Aunt Ginger, who continues to dish up crucial life wisdomwhether it's sought or notwhile reclining on a lawn chair in the sun.

Author Biography

Nancy Clark is the author of A Way from Home and The Hills at Home. A native of Massachusetts, she now makes her home in West Wilton, New Hampshire.

From the Hardcover edition.


Lily knelt amidst the strawberry vines reaching for the brightest fruit among the stiff crowns of leaves. The ripe ones wanted to be picked; their stems released from the runners and they subsided into her palm, several accumulating there coolly ajuggle before she dropped them into the waiting flat which she was shoving and dragging along as she moved down the lane of bushes (for there came the moment when she reached among the foliage and reached at nothing and so had to move on from the previously prime spot she had just made a nest of). Fixing on a promising new spot speckled with berries like a mother lode of rubies in the rock, she settled into the dusty dirt with a henlike declination, her shoulders rounded above a soft slump of torso and limbs, her head lowered and questing forward nose first, into the foliage as she plucked. Her left hand operated independently of the right, and she was twice productive. Sometimes a berry resisted as her fingers closed round its shoulders, and she tugged at it to no avail. Not yet, Lily would think, her easy rhythm broken, and she would pause to consider just how something knew when it was ready to be taken and how it knew, just as well, when it was not.

She swiped her brow, conveying the rose-and-honey scent that infused the skin of her hands most directly to her nose, and overwhelmed as if by a fermented draught of summer, she toppled over, sitting down hard on her bottom. She recovered herself and looked up and about with the immediate wish of having been left unobserved. Her position was not dignified; then again, she felt more comfortable resting on her haunches in the soft dirt than braced upon her knees with all her weight reliant on her toes, which were no longer quite so reliable as they’d once been.

An entire field of strawberry bushes swelled to surround her, row upon row swerving with the contours of the land. At present, there was no moderating breeze, no intervening frill of clouds, and the full strength of the midmorning sun had sapped any early freshness from the air. The edge of the woods, which bounded the field, was melting away, half-obliterated by a haze of overheated ozone. The particulars of branches and trunks, so various in their shades and shapes, looked still-wet, as if the scene was still flowing from from the brush of a watercolorist who lingered and retouched and would not be hurried that sultry morning.

Lily turned toward her house then as if to make certain that it, too, was not dissolving beneath the scorching day. The peaks and chimneys of the roofline were just visible from her present position, and she peered harder as if trying to determine whether her visiting niece, Ginger, was as yet awake and stirring within. Deciding to call her (having been debating all along when best to call and not being able to decide between catching her too soon or too late—for she felt there was no chance of getting Ginger at a good moment), Lily snapped open her cell phone and tapped a button.

“Ginger? It’s ten o’clock. I want to remind you; it’s time for your medicine.” Lily listened. “You’ve taken it all?” Lily listened. “I’m delighted if you say you’re feeling better, but don’t overdo it because you’ll want to be in good form this evening when Betsy and Sally are here. And tomorrow too, when the rest of them get there at Alden’s, and then there’ll be the parade, and after the parade, remember, we have a picnic.” Lily listened to Ginger’s reassurances about her fitness to withstand the demands of the following day. Indeed, Ginger wanted to know whether it was too late to enter a float in the parade. She had just been lying in bed thinking of how amusing it would be to make a giant gypsy moth caterpillar out of a long tube of duct-taped black plastic garbage bags supported by a dozen pair of black-tights-covered legs (everyone i

Excerpted from July and August: A Novel by Nancy Clark
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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