Elizabeth Kelly returns to Cape Cod for the follow-up to her 2010 debut Apologize, Apologize!, where she delivers another coming-of-age story set amidst a family of dysfunctional, dog-loving eccentrics. Indeed, the two books bear enough similarities that it often feels less like Kelly’s moved house than that she’s simply rearranged the furniture.
Unlike the wealthy Flanagans of Apologize, Apologize!, the eponymous Camperdowns came from money but are now mired in debt. Because this doesn’t visibly affect their lifestyle—the house on the sea, the horses, the foxhunting—however, it ends up feeling like a moot point. The acid-tongued, emotionally frigid mother in Apologize! was a Marxist, whereas Greer, the acid-tongued, emotionally frigid mother in The Last Summer of the Camperdowns is an ex-movie star who hankers after the material things presumably eschewed by her novelistic predecessor.
The bleeding-heart liberal mantle, meanwhile, is passed to the father character, Godfrey Camperdown, who has just announced his candidacy for Congress. “Camp,” as everyone, including his daughter, calls him, is a hot-headed but lovable, died-in-the-wool Democrat and labour activist, not to mention songwriter and World War II vet prone to reliving the glory of the various battles in which he fought.