A Summer to New Orleans by Barbara Hall
Nora Braxton's life is falling apart. Her husband has run off with a waitress almost young enough to be his daughter, leaving behind unpaid taxes amounting to thousands of dollars. In addition, her vindictive mother continues to criticize, telling her how to run her life, constantly berating her with shrill choruses of "I-told-you-so's." To make matters worse, Nora's thirteen-year-old son wants to run off to Miami to live with his freethinking, free-spending dad.
So when Simone Gray, Nora's old college friend from the University of Virginia, invites her to New Orleans for a week's vacation, Nora jumps at the chance to get away from it all and get a fresh perspective.
Once in this exotic, almost foreign city, Nora finds that she is not the only friend to be summoned by Simone. Poppy Marchand, another former schoolmate, is there as well. Almost immediately after the initial reunion, Nora and Poppy learn that Simone's invitation is not a purely social visit and that she has much more in mind than a week of fun and relaxation.
Simone, a prominent Los Angeles-based food critic, is a rape victim, and she has asked these old friends to be with her for moral support during the trial of the man she has charged with raping her. A year earlier, while on assignment in New Orleans, Simon was raped after leaving a nightclub. Once model beautiful, she's now shockingly thin, and is, in fact anorexic. Nora, already emotionally at sea and diminished by heartaches, resolves nonetheless to stand by her friend. And Poppy Marchand, a blisteringly plainspoken woman who has recently found religion and left her husband, also vows to be there for Simone, but not without her own bitter reservations.
What follows - before, during and after the trial - is an unraveling of the precepts upon which these three women have built their relationship, each struggling to come to terms with lives that haven't worked out the way any of them planned. Pasts are explored, secrets are shared, and the truth of what really happened to Simone is put into question.
Drawn from the author's own experience, A Summons to New Orleans is a wonderfully written and beautifully crafted novel of three women and their fateful reunion that propels each one to search her past - together their shocking revelations test the true limits of loyalty, friendship, and trust.