It was early evening and a new acquaintance had come to retrieve his daughter from a play date. Instead of driving up in a minivan, he arrived by water, tacking his sailboat smartly across a squiggly channel in the marsh, throwing a rope overboard, and zipping back home, his gleeful daughter riding in the wake. Who knew you could do such a thing? And how could you resist befriending a man such as that?
Over the course of this rich memoir, McGrath recalls with a gimlet eye the pleasures of summers past: amateur lobstering, 9-hole golf, family costume charades, bridge-jumping, and a friendship forged between two men from different backgrounds who came together late in life.
Recounting the vagaries of summer with such precision and warmth– peeling long strips of sunburnt skin from your shoulder as if “shuffling off your own cocoon,” the outdoor shower curtain blowing open in the breeze, an M80 firework in the mailbox–The Summer Friend is simultaneously a potent evocation of the rhythms and rituals of summer and a stirring remembrance of a friend found and then lost.