Cape May

Cape May

A mesmerizing debut novel by Chip Cheek, Cape May explores the social and sexual mores of 1950s America through the eyes of a newly married couple from the genteel south corrupted by sophisticated New England urbanites.Late September 1957. Henry and Effie, very young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon only to find the town is desert...

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Title:Cape May
Author:Chip Cheek
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Edition Language:English

Cape May Reviews

  • Dannii Elle

    In the synopsis, this novel is described as a

    . The unputdownable nature of its contents and the speed with which I tore through the pages can certainly attest to that!

    It is 1957 and two newlyweds make their temporary home in New Jersey, for the duration of their honeymoon. The streets are deserted, the homes are abandoned, and this popular setting for summer escape lies in a silent and gloomy out-of-season solitude. Thrown in such close proximity, and with

    In the synopsis, this novel is described as a

    . The unputdownable nature of its contents and the speed with which I tore through the pages can certainly attest to that!

    It is 1957 and two newlyweds make their temporary home in New Jersey, for the duration of their honeymoon. The streets are deserted, the homes are abandoned, and this popular setting for summer escape lies in a silent and gloomy out-of-season solitude. Thrown in such close proximity, and without the reprieve of other individuals, Henry and Effie decide to cut their trip short. But on the cusp of disembarking, they find their first time together saved with the unlikely arrival of a trio of wealthy socialites. They soon discover that these saviours will also deliver them so much more.

    In amongst the sea of alcohol-infused debauchery this novel becomes unmoored upon, is an insight to 1950s American culture. The characters act either according to or purposefully against the accepted norms and the reader is introduced to the tricky social politics that governed this time. This isolated setting becomes the backdrop to this unburdening of these expectations and what resides underneath is a sexual and sensual awakening, a burgeoning awareness of the self, and many an erotic and gin-soaked scene that makes this novel both a riveting read as well as an unexpectedly profound one.

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, Thank you to the author, Chip Cheek, and the publisher, Celadon Books, for this opportunity.

  • Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm, Myrtle Beach

    I thought this was great book for a debut author! The writing and the characters were very well done.

    Being 2019, you forget how young and naive couples used to be when they got married in the 1950s (Henry was 20 and Effie was 18). I SO appreciated that we got a glimpse of the rest of Henry and Effie's life at the end of the book... only wish we knew how Clara, Max, and Alma's lives went as well. I love a good wrap-up!

    While Cape May isn't my normal type of book, I really ended up enjoying it.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This is one of the first books from the new Celadon imprint, so I've had it for a while but was waiting to read it until closer to its publication date. A quick weekend trip to the rainy coast was the perfect setting.

    It's 1957 and Henry and Effie are newlyweds, headed to Cape May (NJ) in late September for their honeymoon. Of course they are practically the only people there in the off season and the weather is miserable. Effie grew up going to Cape May in the summers, but didn't realize what i

    This is one of the first books from the new Celadon imprint, so I've had it for a while but was waiting to read it until closer to its publication date. A quick weekend trip to the rainy coast was the perfect setting.

    It's 1957 and Henry and Effie are newlyweds, headed to Cape May (NJ) in late September for their honeymoon. Of course they are practically the only people there in the off season and the weather is miserable. Effie grew up going to Cape May in the summers, but didn't realize what it would be like in the fall.

    The narrative perspective is largely that of Henry, a somewhat naive goody two shoes kind of virgin, who assumes his new wife is as inexperienced as he is. When one of her old summer nemeses shows up down the street, all sorts of drama and shenanigans start to play out.

    I couldn't put it down, I read it all in a day. This reads like really gossipy dishy contemporary romance of the steamy variety but written by a man (this is really obvious because of the number of times bowel movements are mentioned, ha!)

    I would almost call it "women's fiction" but I think it has more sex than most "women's fiction" does. The author captures the complete awkwardness of brand new marriage when all of the sudden it's just the two of you with a lifetime ahead of you, and then uses that to the advantage of the story and the conflicts/encounters with the other people who show up. It was a very visual story and I could easily see it translating to film as well.

  • Roman Clodia

    This is a fun read but it feels ultimately a bit inconsequential to me: essentially a 'betrayal of innocence' tale, it follows two young newly-weds in 1957 - both virgins on their wedding night - and how they get sucked into the glamorous world of excessive drink, sex and hedonism on their two-week honeymoon. There are no surprises and the dynamics of the seduced and the seducers have been done before, arguably with more impact.

    Most of the book is focalised through Henry, the young husband, and

    This is a fun read but it feels ultimately a bit inconsequential to me: essentially a 'betrayal of innocence' tale, it follows two young newly-weds in 1957 - both virgins on their wedding night - and how they get sucked into the glamorous world of excessive drink, sex and hedonism on their two-week honeymoon. There are no surprises and the dynamics of the seduced and the seducers have been done before, arguably with more impact.

    Most of the book is focalised through Henry, the young husband, and his masculine desire for sex with as many women as possible. The sex scenes are fairly explicit but not porn-y. I was actually more interested in his wife Effie but we don't really get the opportunity to experience things through her eyes which is a shame: the dual standard that allows masculine sexuality to flourish while female sexuality is curtailed means that Effie has a higher hurdle to jump to overcome her upbringing and social moral standards - how she does this is left unexplored.

    The final chapter jumps from the honeymoon experiences to summarise how they impact the marriage over its entire life, something that doesn't quite work: it feels flimsy and an add-on.

    So I'd file this as a superior beach read (and the bright UK cover from Orion with its neon cocktail glass adds to the connection) - the writing is smooth and fluent, and it's an entertaining page-turner of a novel.

    Thanks to Orion for an ARC via NetGalley.

  • Toni

    Two young innocents arrive to spend their short honeymoon in a relative’s beach cottage, in the off-season shore town of Cape May, based at the southern tip of New Jersey in 1957. Cape May during this era wasn’t the resort it is today, where the season extends well past Labor Day and there are plenty of places for summer guests to stay, as they bicycle past the old Victorian houses.

    Henry is 20 and Effie is 18, having traveled by train all the way from their little country town south of Macon, Ge

    Two young innocents arrive to spend their short honeymoon in a relative’s beach cottage, in the off-season shore town of Cape May, based at the southern tip of New Jersey in 1957. Cape May during this era wasn’t the resort it is today, where the season extends well past Labor Day and there are plenty of places for summer guests to stay, as they bicycle past the old Victorian houses.

    Henry is 20 and Effie is 18, having traveled by train all the way from their little country town south of Macon, Georgia. They’ve known each other most of their lives, but only started dating their senior year of high school. Things move much slower out in the country usually following farming schedules rather than what’s fashionable in the rest of the country That’s why the newlyweds are in a New Jersey beach town in September where most of the businesses close up after Labor Day. The other, is Aunt Louise’s beach cottage is rent-free for their two-week honeymoon, plus it’s way far from Georgia. Effie spent many summers here as a child and has fond memories.

    The beginning of this book is sweet as Henry and Effie awkwardly discover each other and make love for the first time ever, in their young lives. They spend the first week totally immersed with one another and explore tiny Cape May and its beautiful, deserted beaches. They feel the whole town belongs to them alone.

    Walking into town one evening they pass a house just down the block from theirs with its lights aglow, cars parked in the drive and in front, with the faint sound of music coming from inside. Effie remembers the house owned by the family of a girl her older cousin, Holly used to play with, sometimes with the younger Effie dragged along. “Claire, I think her name was Claire, but she wasn’t very nice.” said Effie. “Sounds like a party.” says Henry. “Let’s just knock and say hi before we go to dinner.” says Effie. “Fine with me.” says Henry.

    That simple exchange between Henry and Effie will be the last pleasant and least-complex words they will say to each other ever again. Once they walk through that door their lives will change forever. They will meet “city folk” like they’ve never met before; easy-talkin’, smoking, drinking all day and night, dancing, eating foods they’ve never tasted, and partying all night long. They were mesmerized! One gin and tonic, a first for both, led to another and several more after that. It was so easy, so much fun!

    Her name was Claire and she was about ten years older than Effie, but her husband was probably twenty years older than her! But he wasn’t a problem because he left the next day, but her really, good friend Max stayed around, with his half-sisterl, Alma. They were all so carefree and fun. Maybe too much fun, especially when …..!

    Yes, I’m going to stop here and let your imaginations go wild. The keyword here is wild; it is NOT historical fiction. Other than a few street names, the Light House, and the Coast Guard training center there is not much as far as sightseeing. The book will be fun reading for some, but not so much for this reader. I feel a tiny bit led astray. The last chapter or two brings us to Henry and Effie years later. Yep, they are still together, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

    I would rate this 3.5 for the first half and 3.0 for the second. The ending did not put me in a pleasant mood.

    Thank you NetGalley and Celadon Books for the early read.

  • Jennifer Blankfein

    Desire and early marriage are a perfect match but on their honeymoon in Cape May, the brand new and unfamiliar feeling of lust sends naive newlyweds Effie and Henry down a dangerous path. Can they retrace their steps and go back to pure and innocent times, or will their unforgivable actions alter the course of their relationship forever?

    Chip Cheek's debut, Cape May, is set in 1957 and the innocent, young couple is right out of high school. After a disappointing few days on their honeymoon in a s

    Desire and early marriage are a perfect match but on their honeymoon in Cape May, the brand new and unfamiliar feeling of lust sends naive newlyweds Effie and Henry down a dangerous path. Can they retrace their steps and go back to pure and innocent times, or will their unforgivable actions alter the course of their relationship forever?

    Chip Cheek's debut, Cape May, is set in 1957 and the innocent, young couple is right out of high school. After a disappointing few days on their honeymoon in a sleepier than what they expected, New Jersey seaside village, where their fun and togetherness feels awkward, forced and unnatural, they decide to return home to Georgia early. But a chance meeting with beautiful, socialite neighbors who are having a party change their minds and boy, do things heat up. Socializing, drinking, dancing, swimming and sailing with the people down the street add energy and excitement and contribute to the electricity in the air. Having great fun in the vacation mode, and experiencing thrills and lowered inhibitions lead Effie and Henry, along with the neighbors, to sexual experimentation, manipulation and betrayals.

    This book is steamy and fast paced - a good, hot beach read. It was a little too "50 Shades of Grey" for me personally, but I still enjoyed and appreciated the story of the loss of innocence in a new marriage, the inner conflicts regarding morality and the impact continually flowing cocktails, clandestine meetings in the night and sexual freedom can have. This is not your mother's honeymoon! Q and A with the author can be seem on

    .

  • Carol (Bookaria)

    A newly-wed, young couple from Georgia spends their honeymoon in Cape May, New England during the 50s. What happens those days will alter their lives.

    A few careless moments from the main characters and the story takes shape. The novel is about marriage, trust, and sexuality. I did not find the characters compelling or utterly interesting and there were sections I did not find engaging. 

    Overall, it was ok. I recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary fiction. 

  • Liz

    The 1950s have always struck me as a dull, goody two shoes decade. And Henry and Effie certainly fit that mold. Newlyweds, just out of high school, they head from Georgia to Cape May for their honeymoon. And not height of summer Cape May, but out of season, everything’s closed Cape May. So when they notice a whole batch of cars parked outside the house a few doors down, they stop by. But the woman who answers the door is someone Effie has no desire to see. “She’s a snot nosed bully and a harlot.

    The 1950s have always struck me as a dull, goody two shoes decade. And Henry and Effie certainly fit that mold. Newlyweds, just out of high school, they head from Georgia to Cape May for their honeymoon. And not height of summer Cape May, but out of season, everything’s closed Cape May. So when they notice a whole batch of cars parked outside the house a few doors down, they stop by. But the woman who answers the door is someone Effie has no desire to see. “She’s a snot nosed bully and a harlot.”

    But these two rubes get drawn into the party atmosphere of the city slickers.

    Henry and Effie never seemed more than caricatures to me, on top of which Henry is not at all a sympathetic character. And the story just never engaged me. Other than lots of drinking and sex, not a lot seemed to happen. You could see where the storyline was heading. Moral of the story - don’t get married young. I soon found myself skimming the pages. And the last chapter just seemed totally unnecessary.

    Sorry, this isn’t one I can recommend.

    My thanks to netgalley and Celadon Books for an advance copy of this novel.

  • Judy

    The book opens in the 1950's with Henry and Effie who are newly married. They have arrived in Cape May from their home in Georgia during the off-season. The town is pretty much deserted - a beach town after everyone has gone back to their regular lives. They are both virgins and there is much time spent discovering each other. When they see some people have moved into the house nearby they stop by to say hello and get pulled into what seems like fun at first, but turns into a bad situation for t

    The book opens in the 1950's with Henry and Effie who are newly married. They have arrived in Cape May from their home in Georgia during the off-season. The town is pretty much deserted - a beach town after everyone has gone back to their regular lives. They are both virgins and there is much time spent discovering each other. When they see some people have moved into the house nearby they stop by to say hello and get pulled into what seems like fun at first, but turns into a bad situation for the newlyweds.

    Unfortunately I didn't like the characters nor the plot very much. The writing style wasn't bad though. Mostly the book was filled with sex and drinking.

    Thanks to Celadon Books through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Theresa Smith

    Well this was a massive let down. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it seems you should extend this to the praise by others printed upon said cover as well. This just didn’t work for me. Effie and Henry are on their honeymoon, and they are so young, fresh out of high school and already married. They barely know how to be adults themselves, much less adults together. There was definitely an atmospheric 1950s feel to this novel, for sure, but I think the dead weight of it came fr

    Well this was a massive let down. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it seems you should extend this to the praise by others printed upon said cover as well. This just didn’t work for me. Effie and Henry are on their honeymoon, and they are so young, fresh out of high school and already married. They barely know how to be adults themselves, much less adults together. There was definitely an atmospheric 1950s feel to this novel, for sure, but I think the dead weight of it came from being narrated entirely from Henry’s perspective. Everything we learn about Effie is through the haze of Henry’s gaze, and I’ll be frank here, Henry was boring. And very much a stereotypical 1950s young man. This story would have greatly benefited from the addition of Effie’s perspective along with ditching that final chapter that told the reader every miserable thing that happened to them for the rest of their married lives, post honeymoon.

    The content of this novel became a little too much after a while. It’s entirely about sex and people behaving badly. In the beginning, sex between Henry and Effie, and even though they are on their honeymoon, it became repetitive. Particularly as the writing style was very mechanical. We read about everything without distinction: Effie sweeping the floor, Henry’s bowel movements (or lack thereof), what they order at the diner, what sexual position they utilise next – and then it starts all over again in the same dry, mechanical manner. In the middle, Henry is having sex with both his wife and another woman – on his honeymoon! – and the story just goes from bad to worse from here on in. He is such a despicable liar and then he has the audacity to get angry at Effie when the pair of them get caught up in a swinging situation (not sure how else to describe this) as he watches Effie’s reactions while she is having sex with another man and doesn’t like what he sees. I must point out that while he is watching this, he is of course having sex with a third woman.

    ‘His little Effie, his wife: he didn’t know her anymore. What she’d done, what she’d let him do to her. It was one thing for Henry, but for her, his wife, his girl. A lady. He should have stopped it before it started, he should never have let it go so far. But he didn’t know himself either. A degenerate with no fixed centre. Less than a man.’

    Honestly, this is just trash dressed up as literature because someone along the production line decided to compare it to The Great Gatsby (which many may argue is really not that great). The characters are all below par when it comes to morality. They drink all day long, don’t even really like each other, break into other people’s empty beach houses and make messes they don’t clean up, and then they just wake up the next day and do it all over again. In the end, Henry gets away with every single atrocious thing he does whilst on honeymoon, retains his good looks into old age and goes on to have multiple affairs throughout his marriage. Of course he does. While Effie, as described by Henry, gets fat and mean. Yes, you read that right. I’ve rarely had occasion for a novel to make me so angry. This one tops the lot, that’s for sure. Needless to say, I don’t recommend this novel at all.

    Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of Cape May for review.

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