Shorecliff by Ursula DeYoung

Shorecliff by Ursula DeYoung was the first book i read for Jazz Age January, generously hosted by Leah over at Books Speak Volumes. The story is about a large family who all come together at the summer home on the shores of Maine in the early 1920’s. Lurking in the background is the knowledge that something scandalous is going to happen and the narrator feel responsible for it.

I am not a huge fan of first person narrative. I think it is difficult to pull off well. In the case of Shorecliff, the narrator comes off as being rather puritanical, more so than a 13 year old should be. On numerous occasions he seems to be be overly shocked by minor indiscretions, making the reader think at every turn, Oh is this the scandal that has been alluded to for the last 100 pages?

My other complaint about the novel is that it didn’t have a very pronounced Jazz Age feel. That normally wouldn’t bother me so much, but I was reading it to kick off Jazz Age January so I wanted something a little bit more evocative of the age. Perhaps I should have gone with The Great Gatsby.

Who would like this book? Shorecliff is a good read if you like family dramas. I love novels about families getting together at summer homes. You just know that some secret is going to emerge and ruin everything. I was hoping Shorecliff would be a little bit more like Tigers in Red Weather, but that comparison is unfair. Shorecliff is tamer than Tigers and more understated.


  1. This one’s on my reading list, primarily because it’s set in the 1920s and in Maine.

    I’m a bit obsessed with the Jazz Age (but didn’t know about Jazz Age January – will have to join next year!). If you’re looking for other books to fit the bill, I wrote a post about it a while back: Since that time, I’ve read The Rules of Civility and LOVED it.

  2. Pingback: Jazz Age January: Week 2 Linkup | Books Speak Volumes

  3. Pingback: Jazz Age January: Week 5 Linkup and Wrap Up | Books Speak Volumes

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