To Know You: A Catskill Mountain House Summer
Rebecca Del Reye
Outskirts Press (2012)
Reviewed by Daryn Watson for Reader Views (2/13)
Rebecca Del Reye’s novel “To Know You” is based on the story of Katie, a woman who has recently found out a dark family secret. Her deceased father, the one who raised her, was not her biological father. Her obsession with finding the true identity of her birth father is further hampered by her mother’s progressing Alzheimer’s and continuous memory loss.
Katie’s fixation on her paternal biological heritage has also put a strain on her work and more importantly, her marriage to her husband, Brian. The strain of her mother’s disease is difficult enough to cope with. However, adding to the mix Katie’s lost concentration of her responsibilities has pushed Brian to his edge.
The story digresses from the present day of 1956 back to 1904, the summer Katie’s mother, Sara, worked at a summer resort called Catskill Mountain House. Sara worked there as a house maid, along with many other staff members. She chose to work at the Catskill Mountain House in order to get away from her family and the tragic death of her father.
Sara befriends a tall, handsome political candidate named Richard, much to the disdain of his ornery and controlling wife, Gertrude. Sara and Richard have a deep chemistry between them, but this chemistry is forbidden to blossom due to their Richard’s marriage and their unequal socioeconomic status.
Fiona, another guest at the Catskill Mountain House, is an artistic socialite who takes it upon herself to teach Sara how to paint and to open her eyes to the coming social revolution for women’s equality and their future right to vote. Fiona is viewed by some as a troublemaker but she wants to encourage Sara to learn to develop her artistic and leadership strengths, not only for herself but all women.
Due to some challenges at work, Sara leaves her job to take care of her ailing mother and to face the wrath of her family members, namely her Aunt Ida and her brother Chistofe. Sara is determined to make peace with her mother before she passes.
“To Know You” by Rebecca Del Reye is a great book to read. I enjoyed the way Rebecca Del Reye wove together the story lines from the past to the present and to keep the readers intrigued with the mysterious identity of Katie’s biological father. I think the book is an excellent and satisfying read.