Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Long Past Summer, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas and a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe

Noue Kirwan’s debut, Long Past Summer, is a fantastic second chance romance story that some readers have called Sweet Home Alabama for Black girls.

The novel alternates between the main characters’ past and their present. As Cameron and Mikaela fall in love the summer after high school graduation, their current, separate lives collide once more when Mikaela’s firm represents Cameron, a successful photographer, in a lawsuit over a photo that happens to feature Mikaela all those years ago.

Set in Georgia and New York City, I definitely get the Sweet Home Alabama vibes, but the key difference lies in the love triangle complications from Mikaela’s best frenemy, Julie.

For me, this novel had very strong One Day in December vibes. Which is another novel I loved.

Even though I’m a sucker for second chance romance (and Noue Kirwan delivered), this novel has so much more depth especially concerning friendship, dealing with the past and misconceptions, and the ways we self-sabotage our own happiness sometimes.

I also really liked that the novel features an interracial couple in Cameron and Mikaela. I recently listened to a podcast discussing the fact that interracial couples in romances are rare, so I was glad to see this novel (which does discuss some of the difficulties interracial couples face) was next on my list!

Speaking of podcasts, Long Past Summer is a novel chosen through Book Club Bites’ collaboration with The Best of Women’s Fiction podcast (and I’m so glad I read it!).

Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Noue Kirwan discusses Long Past Summer and more: HERE.

You can also check out Ashley Hasty (cohost of the Best of Women’s Fiction) and her fun interview questions with Noue Kirwan on Hasty Book List: HERE.

If you are looking for a book club pick that centers on a romance, I highly recommend Long Past Summer. With a sizzling romance, a complicated backstory, character wounds, and a difficult friendship to navigate, there’s plenty to discuss.

I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for Long Past Summer and Noue Kirwan has a special recipe for you! So if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!

Long Past Summer

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Here’s a brief summary of Long Past Summer:

From the publisher:

It’s hard to move on from a broken heartand harder to move on from a broken friendship.

Mikaela Marchand is living the polished life she always planned for: a successful New York lawyer, with a promotion in her sights and a devoted boyfriend by her side. She’s come a long way from the meek teen she was growing up in small town Georgia, but the memory of her adolescence isn’t far—in fact, it’s splashed across a massive billboard in Times Square. An old photograph of Mikaela and her former best friend, Julie, has landed on the cover of a high-profile fashion magazine advertised all over the city. And when Julie files a lawsuit, Mikaela is caught in the middle as defense lawyer for the magazine.
 
Not only will she have to face Julie for the first time in years, Mikaela’s forced to work closely with the photographer in question: the former love of her life–and Julie’s ex-husband–Cameron Murphy. Mikaela needs to win the case to get her promotion–and as a junior partner, she has no margin for error. But unresolved feelings still exist between Cam and Mikaela, and jealousy always made Julie play dirty…
 
With flashbacks to summers of first loves and fragile friendships, Long Past Summer looks at the delicate and powerful thread that binds and breaks friends and flames.

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Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe

For Long Past Summer Food Ideas:

Even though there are several lunches at fancy restaurants and a couple of parties, most of the time the food in Long Past Summer is left to the imagination. Drinks were described in more detail, which makes the recipe for Lavender Bourbon Smash aka Cam Loves Kaela, a perfect choice for this novel.

There was one specific lunch mentioned – Mikaela’s favorite – a sandwich made with marinated chicken and chipotle mayo on focaccia bread.

I recall this because it’s almost exactly the same sandwich I have in my current novel in progress. And, it’s my favorite, too. If you’re looking for a dish to serve with this fabulous cocktail, you can’t go wrong with that sandwich.

The lavender bourbon smash recipe Noue Kirwan provided is absolutely delightful. It reminded me of a cocktail I would order at a very high-end restaurant, which is perfect for Long Past Summer.

The spicy and floral lavender, basil and mint notes combine with the tart lemonade and bitters to create such a balanced and complex cocktail. I absolutely loved it and plan to make it again soon.

If for some reason you don’t like bourbon drinks, I have featured a few other drink recipes here on Book Club Bites. Coincidentally, most were for romances. (I’m not sure what that means!)

Honestly, though, I think this bourbon smash is my favorite. I can’t think of a better treat for your book club to indulge in while discussing Long Past Summer .

The recipe is for one cocktail, so multiply by the number you have in your book club!

Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for Long Past Summer!

Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
A few tips on making a Bourbon Smash:

Here are a few tips to help make your mixology experience the best it can be!

1) Make your lavender simple syrup an hour ahead of time or the day before your meeting so that the liquid can cool completely before you use it in your cocktails.

2) I couldn’t find sprigs of lavender, so I used culinary lavender like the picture below. You can find it in your grocery spice aisle. Just be sure to strain it from the finished simple syrup before using in your cocktails.

Whether you choose something from this list or try this fabulous recipe for Lavender Bourbon Smash cocktails, I hope these food ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for Long Past Summer!

The Nightingale Book Club Questions and Recipe Lavender
Lavender

Long Past Summer Book Club Recipe:

Lavender Bourbon Smash

Lavender Bourbon Smash

With complex notes of lavender, basil, and mint, this Bourbon Smash is sure to be the hit of your party. If you are looking for the perfect cocktail to wow your guests, this is it! Check out this "Cam Loves Kaela" Lavender Bourbon Smash!
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 147 kcal

Equipment

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Muddler

Ingredients
  

  • 3 oz. 6 tablespoons Lemonade
  • 2 oz. 4 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 2 large mint leaves
  • 1 oz. 2 tablespoons lavender simple syrup*
  • a splash of Angostura bitters
  • Crushed ice for serving

Instructions
 

  • Muddle basil and mint in a cocktail shaker, add the bourbon, lemonade, lavender simple syrup, and a splash of bitters.
  • Shake with ice. Serve in old-fashioned glass with a fresh lavender sprig and lemon twist to garnish.

*Lavender Simple Syrup

  • In a medium saucepan, combine one cup of sugar and one cup of water.
  • Toss in a couple sprigs lavender. (about one teaspoon of culinary lavender)
  • Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. This will take 5-8 minutes.
  • Strain the herbs from the simple syrup and allow it to cool completely before using.
  • This makes about 1 1/4 cup of Lavender Simple Syrup — enough for about 10 cocktails per the recipe above.

Notes

Recipe courtesy of Chef Jasmine Sheth
Keyword bourbon cocktail, bourbon smash, lavender bourbon smash, lavender cocktail
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe

More Fun from Noue Kirwan:

Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!

According to Imbibe Magazine: “A smash is a julep, but a julep is not always a smash… the julep [is] a ‘peculiarly American beverage’ most popular in the South. A smash is an icy cocktail that often highlights seasonal fruit or herbs. It’s made for hot days. Like many cocktails, the question of the smash’s exact definition is a question of semantics. The smash is an open-ended cocktail, freely variable and seasonally flexible. There must be ice, though you may strain it out if you prefer. There should be fruit in season, though you may use it simply as a garnish. There should be a spirit base, though you may use your spirit of choice. Mint is a classic choice, though many other herbs can work.”

In this instance, the Cam Loves Kaela Lavender Smash represents elements from LONG PAST SUMMER. It’s served on ice, indicative of summer and the couple’s southern roots, using Cameron and Mikaela’s preferred spirits: bourbon/scotch/whiskey. It’s also made with lemonade and lavender, calling back to a typical favorite summertime beverage and a flower with particular significance to Cameron and Mikaela in the book. Mixed together and served over ice, it’s a sweet, refreshing drink that’s full of flavor and as timeless as their romance!

Good food and a good book go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite food to enjoy while reading?

I was raised to be really respectful of books so I’m always afraid of damaging them. So I’d say I prefer to drink tea or hot cocoa with a (dry) cookie or cracker as I read rather than risk messing up the pages with anything too moist or greasy.

Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?

I went down a small rabbit hole researching southern food in general, I knew what grits and hominy were but I looked into the various different ways they can be prepared and what the differences are between the two. (Hominy is a type of grits made of white corn treated with lime—to remove the husk). But personally I prefer Cream of Wheat to grits which I have learned is sacrilege, LOL!

Long Past Summer Book Club Questions:

*WARNING: May contain spoilers!

  1. Julie and Mikaela have a complicated relationship. Do you think Julie ever cared about Mikaela or did she only want someone she could manipulate for her own purposes? Could both be true?
  2. Do you think Mikaela finally got her say at the end of the novel when Julie confronts her? Did you wish Mikaela would have said more?
  3. Why do you think Mikaela ultimately pushed Julie and Cameron together? Do you think it was the fear she mentions? Do you think she might not have believed herself worthy of love? What other ways did Mikaela “self-sabotage” in the novel?
  4. Mikaela comes to realize she’s acted based on wounds and misconceptions, particularly related to her parent’s divorce. How did you feel about Mikaela’s mother? Despite the strides in female equality, it’s still difficult to have a demanding career and raise a family. Do you think Mikaela can “choose to work it out everyday” with Cam? What has made the difference in your own life, if you’ve balanced both?
  5. Discuss Cam and Kaela’s relationship in the book. What was your favorite part? Did you enjoy the “spice” level in the novel?
  6. Have you read other second chance romances? Share ones you’ve loved.
  7. Have you read other romance novels (or other types of novels) featuring an interracial couple? Do you feel it’s underrepresented in literature still? Why or why not?

Find Noue Kirwan:

Noue can be found online!

Twitter: @nouekirwan

Instagram: @nouekirwan

TikTok: @nouekirwan

https://nouekirwan.com/

Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Noue Kirwan discusses Long Past Summer and more: HERE.

You can also check out Ashley Hasty (cohost of the Best of Women’s Fiction) and her fun interview questions with Noue Kirwan on Hasty Book List: HERE.

Have you read Long Past Summer? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

Bookish gifts for you or your reader friends!

Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe
Long Past Summer Book Club Questions and Recipe

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