Henry and Effie get married right after graduating from their small town high school in 1957. They go to Cape May in its off-season for their honeymoon and decide to semi-crash a party because they are so bored. To Effie’s dismay she learns the party is being hosted by Clara, one of her childhood tormentors. Nevertheless, they continue to socialize with Clara and her worldly friends during their time in Cape May. As the story progresses, the two newlyweds begin to engage in reckless conduct that may or may not have been influenced by their new friends from the big city.
The story started out on a very high note, and I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, the plot never thickened with any substance. There was just a lot of partying, drinking, sex with other people, and criminal mischief... until there wasn’t. I’m also not convinced that Henry and Effie were as innocent as the reader was supposed to believe just because they grew up in a small town (as if debauchery and moral turpitude is limited to the big city folks) or that what happened at Cape May caused their resulting unhappy marriage (e.g., they seemed pretty unhappy before they ever went to the party.)
The story could have been written about any random couple from a small town getting married directly out of high school and living a miserable existence with each other until the kids grow up or one of them dies because Henry and Effie were that indistinguishable. These poor saps just happened to be stuck in the 1950s; otherwise the same story could be told in modern times. I took this as a cautionary tale, and thankfully, it’s one I could not relate to at all.