The most recommended books about Cape Cod

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to Cape Cod, and here are their favorite Cape Cod books.
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What type of Cape Cod book?


The Postmistress

By Sarah Blake,

Book cover of The Postmistress

Sally Cabot Gunning Author Of Painting the Light

From the list on for her side of history.

Who am I?

 I’ve always loved history, and especially those small stories, so often about women, that never made the history books. No big surprise then that as an author I eventually gravitated to historical fiction, and that all of my novels have featured strong, independent women. Women were wonderful sources for the kinds of stories I wished to tell – they kept journals and diaries; they wrote voluminous letters; they were excellent chroniclers of their time; they were clever and witty and brave, and they bared their souls. To be able to bring some of these women to life has been a most rewarding experience for me. I hope reading my books proves as rewarding for you.

Sally's book list on for her side of history

Why did Sally love this book?

There are a lot of World War II books out there, and in truth, I was growing tired of them until I read Sarah Blake’s. Partially located on my home turf of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the brush against our local history pre-World War II fascinated me. But Blake doesn’t stay local; she leaves the postmistress to do—or not doher job and flies off to London with a female war correspondent. How their stories cleverly intertwine is part of my fascination with this tale. Blake has a habit of dropping unforgettable characters on my doorstep, where they tease and tantalize long after I’ve turned the last page. 

By Sarah Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Postmistress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Experience World War 2 through the eyes of two very different women in this captivating New York Times bestseller by the author of The Guest Book.

"A beautifully written, thought-provoking novel."-Kathryn Stockett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it.

Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow.…

The Babysitter

By Jennifer Jordan, Liza Rodman,

Book cover of The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer

Eric J. McNulty Author Of You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most

From Eric's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Educator Birder Provocateur Wine guy

Eric's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Eric love this book?

Whoa—what a true crime thriller! I spend time on Cape Cod and enjoy books set there. This book reveals the tale of a serial killer told by someone who was close to him—but who was just a bit too young to appeal to him as a victim.

The story is in part the co-author’s endearing and revealing childhood memories and partly the tale of grisly murder. Bringing the two together kept my reading light on way too late. Even though I knew the author lived to write the book, I could still feel the danger in her interactions with the serial killer. Chilling.

By Jennifer Jordan, Liza Rodman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Babysitter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This chilling true story and “harrowing account of the evil that can lurk around the edges of girlhood” (Carolyn Murnick, author of The Hot One)—reminiscent of Ann Rule’s classic The Stranger Beside Me—follows a little girl longing for love who finds friendship with her charismatic babysitter, unaware that he is a vicious serial killer.

Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter—the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother…

Book cover of The Movement of Stars

Katherine Sherbrooke Author Of Leaving Coy's Hill

From the list on the real lives of kick-ass women.

Who am I?

I was never much of a history student. Facts and figures rarely stick in my brain until I have a character—their feelings, hopes, fears, and dreams—to pair them with, so I rely a lot on historical fiction to understand different places and times. I’m also a believer that our culture too often serves up the impression that marginalized people have forever hopelessly struggled, held back by those in power. But there are so many true stories that reveal the opposite, in this case, women fighting for their dreams and winning! I aim to bring these stories to light in a way that keeps the pages turning. 

Katherine's book list on the real lives of kick-ass women

Why did Katherine love this book?

Maria Mitchell, raised as a Nantucket Quaker, was the first woman to discover and name a new comet, no easy task in the 1840s when women were not meant to study astronomy, let alone when her only instrument was a small telescope on an island roof. Brill takes artistic license with Mitchell’s story, adding nuance and detail likely outside the scope of her research, and delivers a riveting tale of a woman determined to live her dreams, no matter how high the barriers to achieving them.  

By Amy Brill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Movement of Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amy Brill's The Movement of Stars tells a story of illicit love and extraordinary ambition.

It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price dreams of a world infinitely larger than the small Quaker community where she has lived all 25 years of her life - for, as an amateur astronomer, she secretly hopes to discover a comet and win the King of Denmark's prize for doing so.

But she can only indulge her passion for astronomy as long as the men in her life - her father, brother and family friends - are prepared to support it, and so she treads…

Wild Game

By Adrienne Brodeur,

Book cover of Wild Game: My Mother, Her Secret, and Me

Laura Davis Author Of The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story

From the list on the mother-daughter relationship.

Who am I?

We all have obsessions in life and one of mine has been my mother and the great love and enmity that ricocheted between us for fifty-seven years. Throughout the decades, my mother went from protector to controller to betrayer to ogre to human to an elderly woman in my care. The love and hate, distance and intimacy, estrangement, and reconciliation that we experienced made me a lifelong student of the mother-daughter bond. I‘ve written about my mother for more than 30 years, and love reading mother-daughter stories, not saccharine sweet ones, but complex multi-layered dramas where there’s no villain and no hero—just two humans struggling to love and understand each other.

Laura's book list on the mother-daughter relationship

Why did Laura love this book?

I read Wild Game in a weekend—and that’s unusual for me, but I just couldn’t put the book down. Brodeur brought me into a world of treachery, lies, and mother-daughter entanglement that I found absolutely compelling. The mother in this book, Malabar, is a larger-than-life character whose willingness to sacrifice her daughter’s well-being for her own ends was horrifying and believable. I rooted for the daughter all the way through this beautifully crafted book, but it was the mother I found unforgettable.

By Adrienne Brodeur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wild Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NATIONAL BESTSELLER. A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity.

NAMED A BEST FALL BOOK BY People * Refinery29 * Entertainment Weekly * BuzzFeed * NPR’s On Point * Town & Country * Real Simple * New York Post * Palm Beach Post * Toronto Star * Orange Country Register * Bustle * Bookish * BookPage * Kirkus* BBC Culture* Debutiful

On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set…

Sargent's Daughters

By Erica Hirshler,

Book cover of Sargent's Daughters: The Biography of a Painting

Megan Marshall Author Of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

From the list on women’s writing on women’s lives.

Who am I?

I am the grown-up little girl who loved to read. I loved novels and children’s biographies—Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Annie Oakley. I imagined that if I could learn to write books that inspired readers and moved them to tears like my favorite books, I would have accomplished a great good. My first biography, The Peabody Sisters, took twenty years and won awards for historical writing. My second biography, Margaret Fuller, won the Pulitzer. But what matters more than all the prizes is when people tell me they cried at the end of my books. I hope you, too, will read them and weep over lives lived fully and well.    

Megan's book list on women’s writing on women’s lives

Why did Megan love this book?

Anyone who admires the portraits of John Singer Sargent is sure to know his gorgeous Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, the exquisite grouping of four girls in white pinafores emerging from the shadowy rooms of an elegant Parisian apartment. But do you know the girls, and how Sargent came to paint them? And what became of them all? Erica Hirshler, a curator at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where the painting is on permanent exhibition, has written a book that reveals all in a stylish and richly nuanced historical detective story.  

By Erica Hirshler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sargent's Daughters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Singer Sargent’s renowned portrait “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit” is examined in an aesthetic, philosophical, and personal tour de force that has been called “thoroughly absorbing” (New York Times Book Review); “brilliant and insightful”?(Wall Street Journal); “an attractive, well-illustrated scholarly book, further enlivened by the author’s warm and friendly tone” (Times Literary Supplement); “a uniquely crafted history” (The Magazine Antiques); “a brilliant work of criticism, without a word of jargon in it” (Maine Antique Digest); “sensitive and penetrating” (Choice); and “a meticulously researched account of [the Boits’] milieu, their eccentric lifestyle, its unintended effects on their daughters, and…

That Quail, Robert

By Margaret Stanger,

Book cover of That Quail, Robert

Elizabeth Gehrman Author Of Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction

From the list on birds and life.

Who am I?

I never had a particular interest in birds until I heard about David Wingate and the cahow; I’m just a reporter who was smitten by a compelling story. I often write about science and the environment, as well as travel and other topics, for publications including the Boston Globe, Archaeology, and Harvard Medicine, and while working on Rare Birds I got hooked on these extraordinary creatures and the iconoclastic obsessives who have become their stewards in the Anthropocene era. You don’t have to care about birds to love their stories — but in the end, you will.

Elizabeth's book list on birds and life

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Originally published in 1966, this charming illustrated tale continues to sell briskly. Written by the neighbor of a Cape Cod doctor who finds a quail egg abandoned in his yard and warms it with a table lamp until it hatches, it tells of how Robert, as the bird (later discovered to be female) is dubbed, imprints on “his” adopted family, who quickly realize that “far from having a bird in captivity, we were helplessly and hopelessly ensnared and enamored.” What follows is an interspecies love story between the “highly sociable,” housetrained, telephone-answering, sauerkraut-devouring fluffball and the humans she never ceases to beguile.

By Margaret Stanger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked That Quail, Robert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed story of the little bird that won the nation’s heart

He’ll never live, the neighbors all said. But Robert, the abandoned quail chick would prove them wrong. Born on a kitchen counter in a house on Cape Cod, raised in a box surrounded by a lamb’s wool duster and a small lamp, Robert’s life began auspiciously.

The Outermost House

By Henry Beston,

Book cover of The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

Brian Ladd Author Of The Streets of Europe: The Sights, Sounds, and Smells That Shaped Its Great Cities

From Brian's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Urbanist City walker

Brian's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Brian love this book?

In the 1920s, young Henry Beston built himself a tiny cottage on the coastal dunes and ended up staying for a year.

It sounds like Thoreau, and indeed Beston produced some of the finest nature writing I have read, comparable to the best parts of Walden (and better than Thoreau’s own Cape Cod book), evoking the rhythm of the seasons through the water and wind, the birds and crustaceans, and, not least, the people of the outer Cape, then few in number (hard to imagine), as they scratched a living from the harsh landscape—not least by scavenging the detritus of the all too frequent shipwrecks.

By Henry Beston,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Outermost House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The seventy-fifth anniversary edition of the classic book about Cape Cod, "written with simplicity, sympathy, and beauty" (New York Herald Tribune)

A chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach, The Outermost House has long been recognized as a classic of American nature writing. Henry Beston had originally planned to spend just two weeks in his seaside home, but was so possessed by the mysterious beauty of his surroundings that he found he "could not go."

Instead, he sat down to try and capture in words the wonders of the magical landscape he found himself in thrall…

Beginning with a Bash

By Alice Tilton,

Book cover of Beginning with a Bash

Angela M. Sanders Author Of Witch upon a Star

From the list on screwball mysteries from the golden age of detection.

Who am I?

Between humor and pathos, I lean humor. Even the saddest, most shocking events—murder, for instance—can be wrapped in kookiness. Combine this outlook with my love of old things (I’m sitting on a 1920s Chinese wedding bed and drinking from an etched Victorian tumbler at this very moment), and you’ll understand why I’m drawn to vintage screwball detective fiction. Although my mystery novels are cozies, I can’t help but infuse them with some of this screwball wackiness. I want readers to laugh, of course, but also to use my stories as springboards to see the hilarity and wonder in their own lives. 

Angela's book list on screwball mysteries from the golden age of detection

Why did Angela love this book?

Golden Age mystery aficionados know Phoebe Atwood Taylor’s humorous Cape Cod mysteries, but they may not be familiar with the even more hilarious—in my opinion, anyway—mysteries she wrote as Alice Tilton.

A friend lent me Tillton’s The Left Leg. As soon as I’d read its last page, I was on the hunt for the rest of them.

Beginning with a Bash is the first in Tilton’s series starring Leonidas Witherall, a boys’ school headmaster, radio detective story writer, and dead ringer for William Shakespeare.

These mysteries read more like capers, with Witherall ricocheting around Boston as he stumbles over corpses, eludes gangsters, dons disguises, and deals with impudent children and persistent dogs. Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

By Alice Tilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beginning with a Bash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Tilton, Alice, Taylor, Phoebe Atwood

Little Monsters

By Adrienne Brodeur,

Book cover of Little Monsters

Cat Jordan Author Of Eight Days on Planet Earth

From Cat's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Dog parent Zombie choreographer Ballet dancer Vegetarian

Cat's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Cat love this book?

This book reminded me of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, a complicated family drama much like we see in “Little Monsters.” I love characters with false narratives, ones whose external voices don’t match their inner voices at all.

They lie to themselves, they lie to us. This is the kind of book that makes you relieved not to live in it yet perversely guilty for sharing in it. The Gardners are a dysfunctional family, and I found myself staying up late every night to discover all the secrets that created their complex dynamics.

By Adrienne Brodeur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Gorgeous, gripping, I couldn't put it down' RUTH OZEKI

'Beautiful, lyrical and unvarnished, Adrienne Brodeur's Little Monsters delivers its powerful emotional punches so subtly that they sneak up on you and leave you floored' MIRANDA COWLEY HELLER, author of THE PAPER PALACE

A riveting novel about Cape Cod, complicated families and long-buried secrets

Ken and Abby Gardner were raised in a remote home on Cape Cod. As adults, their relationship is strained, but their lives are still deeply intertwined. Ken is a successful businessman with political ambitions and a picture-perfect family, but when his wife walks in on him in…

Fools Rush in

By Kristan Higgins,

Book cover of Fools Rush in

Bethany Crandell Author Of See Jane Snap

From the list on for a hearty laugh.

Who am I?

I love to laugh. Quite often it’s at inappropriate times or at someone else’s expense, but either way, it’s a huge part of who I am. Second only to prayer, I find laughter to be the best remedy for a difficult situation. It’s hard to be sad when you’re laughing, and as a writer who puts characters into very challenging positions, that’s always at the forefront of my mind. While readers may not always relate to the exact circumstance my characters are in, they may very well find common ground in the levity they seek when trying to survive it.

Bethany's book list on for a hearty laugh

Why did Bethany love this book?

This book was Higgins’ debut and holy moly does it deliver! It’s endearing but not in a sappy way, sweet but not to the point of annoyance, swoony but not in a “I need Lava Soap" way, and most importantly it’s laugh-out-loud funny! Just like her many other books since, her characters are perfectly flawed with makes them beyond relatable and oh-so addictive! A great book to get to know this author!

By Kristan Higgins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fools Rush in as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This emotional journey…is filled with drama, laughter and tears andsqueezes the heart. It should be on every bedside table in the country!” —#1 New YorkTimes bestselling author Robyn Carr

Don't miss this deliciously romantic read from New York Times bestselling author KristanHiggins!

Millie Barnes is this close to finally achieving her perfectlife…

Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of hervery own? Check. Adorable dog suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All sheneeds is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will beset. 

But perfection isn't as easy…


By Sally Cabot Gunning,

Book cover of Bound

Tracy Lawson Author Of Answering Liberty's Call

From the list on featuring strong women in 18th century America.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by American history and have clear memories of celebrating America’s bicentennial as a child. I have twenty-two Revolutionary Patriots in my family history, and I am most proud of my 6x-great grandmother, Anna Asbury Stone, for her bravery and daring during the winter of 1778. I did extensive genealogical research to learn about her, her family, and her circumstances before writing Answering Liberty’s Call: Anna Stone’s Daring Ride to Valley Forge.

Tracy's book list on featuring strong women in 18th century America

Why did Tracy love this book?

Bound is set in the years prior to the American Revolution, and highlights the difficulties faced by girls and women indentured servants. Alice and her family set out for America from England, but when her mother and brothers die during the voyage, Alice’s father decides he cannot keep her and sells her as an indentured servant upon reaching Boston. Alice should have had a middle-class upbringing, but instead, she becomes chattel. The scenes of abuse in this book are stark, but it helps to shed light on the sufferings of the disenfranchised and the helpless. Alice’s determination will inspire.

By Sally Cabot Gunning,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An indentured servant finds herself bound by law, society, and her own heart in this novel set in colonial Cape Cod from the author of acclaimed The Widow’s War.

Indentured servant Alice Cole barely remembers when she was not “bound”, first to the Morton family, then to their daughter Nabby—her companion since childhood—when she wed. But Nabby’s new marriage is not happy, and when Alice finds herself torn between her new master and her old friend, she runs away to Boston. There she meets a sympathetic widow named Lyddie Berry and her lawyer companion, Eben Freeman. Impulsively stowing away on…

Seating Arrangements

By Maggie Shipstead,

Book cover of Seating Arrangements

Lauren Edmondson Author Of Wedding of the Season

From the list on wild family weddings.

Who am I?

Weddings are stressful for even the most functional of families. I should know—it took me nearly two years to plan my own! The process of manufacturing the big day, and attending to all the trappings of the wedding industrial complex, really brings out our best and our worst. In my most recent novel, I found that a big, splashy wedding provided such a fun and fascinating way to explore the tensions and enduring love within families, friends, and couples. If done right, plots involving weddings can smash tired “bridezilla” and “monster-in-law” tropes. As we enter the summer wedding season, I hope this list of books keeps you laughing and loving! 

Lauren's book list on wild family weddings

Why did Lauren love this book?

No one does family dysfunction in beautiful places like Maggie Shipstead.

In this novel, she sweeps us to a fictional island in New England (I imagined Martha’s Vineyard), and into the Van Meter family who, for all their wealth, have the communication skills of elementary school kids at recess.

Part comedy of manners, part dramatic exploration of our very human obsessions and anxieties, you’ll want to read this book with a lobster roll and a gin and tonic nearby.  

By Maggie Shipstead,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Seating Arrangements as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of Great Circle

'Joyously good' DAILY MAIL

'A ferociously clever comedy of manners' GUARDIAN

'A wise, sophisticated and funny novel about family, fidelity, class and crisis' MARIE CLAIRE

'A well-observed, hilarious, yet moving novel' WOMAN & HOME

New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize and 2012 L.A. Times First Novel Prize

The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the New England island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to an impeccably appropriate young man. The weekend is full of lobster and champagne, salt…


By Mary Oliver,

Book cover of Upstream: Selected Essays

Deirdre Heekin Author Of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

From the list on wine, love, and landscape.

Who am I?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.

Deirdre's book list on wine, love, and landscape

Why did Deirdre love this book?

Mary Oliver, as a poet and an essayist, writes with a lyric sword. Upstream is a collection of essays that reflect her willingness to lose herself in the mysteries and intricacies of the natural world. In this work, Oliver contemplates the joy of her work, her passionate eye for observation, her ability and responsibility to write and think about the flora and fauna, the flowers, the grass, the water, the sky, and how they connect us to the natural world, to each other, and to ourselves.

The sheer power of her writing and command of language has always drawn me in, what pushes me as a person, a farmer, and a writer to give into the “stream” of our consciousness, to stop and observe, but to also keep moving forward with the power of words and my experience of the world around me.

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Upstream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of O, The Oprah Magazine's Ten Best Books of the Year

The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver.

"There's hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn't folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver's language . . ." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"Uniting essays from Oliver's previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet's thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds . . ." -The New York Times

"In the beginning I was so young and such…

The Paper Palace

By Miranda Cowley Heller,

Book cover of The Paper Palace

Rochelle B. Weinstein Author Of When We Let Go

From the list on tugging on every one of your heartstrings.

Who am I?

Not only am I the author of seven women’s fiction novels, I’m a voracious reader who believes she was raised by Judy Blume and Sidney Sheldon. In our broken home, reading was an escape, a salve for the wound, a place where I felt heard and understood. My novels touch on deep emotions—real and relatable. If I don’t capture that feeling when I’m reading through my drafts, I dig deeper. And that’s the thing about a great book, that gut punch, that slide under my skin, I get you. There’s no better read than the one that pulls the heartstrings and gives you all the feels.    

Rochelle's book list on tugging on every one of your heartstrings

Why did Rochelle love this book?

Every page of The Paper Palace is moving and evocative—the quintessential love triangle that had me torn between young, innocent love and mature, adult love. I’m a sucker for these tropes, so I sunk inside this story of then and now, shuffling through a range of emotions, just like the protagonist, Elle. That’s the best kind of book. When you feel alongside the characters. And the secret longing kept me turning pages until the climactic, tender ending. And that ending. It will keep you guessing. And discussing. And thinking about it. I still think about it.  

By Miranda Cowley Heller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Paper Palace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?





“Filled with secrets, love, lies and a summer beach house. What more could you ask?”—Parade

“A deeply emotional love story…the unraveling of secrets, lies and a very complex love triangle.” —Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club July ’21 Pick)

"Nail-biting." —Town & Country

“A magnificent page-turner.” —Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author

“[An] irresistible placement of a complicated family in a bewitching place.” —The New York Times

A story of summer, secrets, love, and lies: in the course of…