Summer at the Lake by Andrew Greeley

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Themes

The novel's epigraphs deal with the season of summer—its joy, ripeness and provision of pleasurable opportunity. Greeley often represents pleasure in food forms. As a small child, Jane befriends Leo by purchasing him a Good Humor Bar. As an adolescent, she works in a soda fountain in the summer. Whenever Leo sees her during his youth, she is associated with delectable treats.

By contrast, the plot deals with opportunities lost, withdrawn, unseen, untaken, or misperceived. Going over it, either in mental review or with a pen in hand, is the only way to make sense of it. Greeley fills the novel with allusions to Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past (1913- 1927; see separate entry) to underscore this theme.

There is another set of allusions to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925; see separate entry). Leo Kelly at first unconsciously, then with deliberate consciousness, compares himself to Gatsby's Nick—an outsider and distant observer of the nouveau rich and their careless pursuits. When Jane's brothers endow a Chair of Irish Studies at the university, Kelly wryly accepts it less as a gift...

(The entire section is 372 words.)