The summer at Hideaway Key starts out with two little girls being dropped off at a poor house, Mt.Zion, by their mother. The girls are terrified, but they believe that their mother will come back for them once she can support them again. This is a time, 1953 when times are tough for a single mother to make it on her own let alone with two little girls. The poorhouse is run by a couple, a not very nice woman by the name of Sister Ruby and her husband preacher Brother Zell. The girls are set to work at different tasks in the kitchen and laundry. Lily had been told by her mother to look out for Caroline, which she tries to do. Brother Zell notices Lily of course and wants her to help him in his office. Well, of course, there is an ulterior motive to his wants. Before Lily knows it she has been molested by Brother Zell. By this time, she knows that her mother is never coming back for her and Caroline and is determined that she is going to take her sister and leave. She has not figured out how to do this yet but when Brother Zell sets his sights on Caroline she knows that it is time to leave. She tells her sister to pack and that their mother will meet them. Lily steals some money and Brother Zell's truck and they run off.
Lily St.Claire is a young woman who is a clothing designer and will be accepting a dream job at a top fashion house in Milan. She has recently come from Paris, after the death of her father, Roland, and at the reading of the will, she is totally surprised that her father has left her a property in Hideaway Key, Florida. Her mother Caroline is not only equally surprised but actually quite upset about it. Lily doesn't want to be tied down to a property but can't figure out why her mother is so upset. Lily has never gotten along with Caroline as Caroline is a cold demanding woman who really has shown any love to Lily. All the love and affection Lily received from her father.
Cottage at Hideaway Key was a property that had been owned by Roland, passed on to him on the death of Caroline's sister and Lily's aunt, Lily-Mae whom Lily never knew existed. Apparently Caroline and her sister had a falling out and haven't spoken in years. So inheriting the cottage is very mysterious to Lily. Upon arriving at the cottage, she finds it in disrepair and loaded with boxes. She is to report to her new job in Milan within a month so she reluctantly starts making some sort of order to what she needs to do with the cottage and its contents. She comes across some journals and is instantly swept away in the life of her aunt. While she is in Hideaway Key she meets some people and actually comes to like it there.
Told in alternating voices, Lily's and her aunt Lily-Mae's, the reader learns more about each of these women and the people they meet along the way. Women with love and relationship issues, definitely flawed. Will finding out more about her aunt finally give her the reason why her mother is so cold and distant? Can she find peace with herself? Summer at Hideaway Key had me turning the pages in anticipation that each of the Lily's lives would be happy ones. Doesn't always happen that way, though. This is definitely one of those stories that stays with you long after you have put the book aside, a book to share with your bestie. 5 stars for sure.