Lovehampton is the story of Tori Miller, a heartbroken woman who has let herself go since her boyfriend left her two years ago. The only things she has left are her friends and her job as the head of her own small production company. Her worried friends conspire to get Tori on a makeover show – she’ll get a new haircut, new wardrobe, and hopefully a new outlook on life. Just to be safe, her friend Alice also encourages her to sign up for a summer share in the Hamptons. Living with a bunch of strangers every weekend for the summer is sure to make Tori put herself out there.
But Tori gets more than she bargained for with the summer house. First there’s Leah, the queen bee who’s in everyone’s business and hopes to score with Jackson, the Brit who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the share. Stacy, Tori’s roommate, seems to talk incessantly; Julia seems to be absent every weekend; and Cassie, who lives a life of glamour, seems to want Tori along for the ride. Add to that Andrew (who Tori calls “the Mayor” because the girls flock to him), Matthew, and the fact that everyone in the share calls Tori by her last name, and you have the makings of a very interesting summer.
Lovehampton charts a woman’s return to a semblance of normalcy from a dark place of heartbreak and sorrow. At the beginning of the book, Tori is barely functioning and her depression overwhelms her. After her friends intervene and she gains some self-confidence, Tori starts down the path back to herself. The only problem is that she isn’t quite sure who that is anymore. Tori’s self-discovery is heartwarming to read about, but it can get frustrating at times. As she tries to figure out herself, the people around Tori tend to walk all over her. It is a repeated motif, as if the author is trying to demonstrate that allowing something else to control you - whether it be depression, other people, or your conception of the person you think you should be - is not a path to happiness. The storyline is effective, but the journey can be a bit rough.
The characters in Lovehampton are well-written and appealing; Rifkin is talented at building three-dimensional characters. Too often, when the cast of characters in a novel is this large, the secondary personages tend to be caricatures. It is clear that Rifkin took the time and energy to flesh out every character in the book. They all have their distinct personalities, and the reader can imagine their lives continuing after the story ends.
Lovehampton will appeal to multiple people, especially fans of chick lit and women’s fiction. It works equally well as a summer beach read or a book for a cold winter’s day. I look forward to seeing what Rifkin has up next.