Shoulder Season: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

With her second novel, Christina Clancy is cementing her spot as the bard of heartfelt stories of strong, funky Wisconsin women. As a Playboy bunny picaresque, Shoulder Season delivers – there are peeks behind the scenes (and under the ears) of life as a bunny, including cocktail lists and crazy parties, handsy customers and perverted pool boys, celebrity dalliances and down-to-earth romances, and yes, even a few whiffs of cocaine in the air. It’s a book about escaping to a wonderland – I’ll spare you the ‘down the rabbit hole’ puns – and about what a woman will put herself through to ditch the past and grab onto the allure and glamor of a new life.

— Chris Lee

Sherri Taylor is just an ordinary East Troy teenager, recently orphaned, looking for a job. On a whim, her friend Roberta, currently working at the Wooden Nickle in Southridge, suggests they apply for jobs at the Playboy Resort in Lake Geneva. And with that, Sherri is a legendary Playboy Bunny. Though it’s billed as a family friendly resort, the truth is a bit murkier, and Sherri will find herself going places and doing things she never would have expected. Will she follow in the footsteps of Dorothy and find her way back home to Kansas, I mean Wisconsin? This enjoyable story, seeped in the 1980s and with a cast of unforgettable fellow Bunnies, is a hell-and-back story, driven by Sherri’s spirit. 

— Daniel Goldin


Named a Best Book of Summer by Good Morning America • CNN Parade • EW • Travel & Leisure • PopSugar • New York Post BuzzFeed Brit & Co • SheReads •

A dazzling portrait of a young woman coming into her own, the youthful allure of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and what we loseand gainwhen we leave home.


The small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighboring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she’s ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and factory workers for the defining experience of her life.

Living in the “bunny hutch”—Playboy’s version of a college dorm—Sherri gets her education in the joys of sisterhood, the thrill of financial independence, the magic of first love, and the heady effects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But as spring gives way to summer, Sherri finds herself caught in a romantic triangle—and the tragedy that ensues will haunt her for the next forty years.

From the Midwestern prairie to the California desert, from Wisconsin lakes to the Pacific Ocean, this is a story of what happens when small town life is sprinkled with stardust, and what we lose—and gain—when we leave home. With a heroine to root for and a narrative to get lost in, Christina Clancy's Shoulder Season is a sexy, evocative tale, drenched in longing and desire, that captures a fleeting moment in American history with nostalgia and heart.

About the Author

Christina Clancy is the author of Shoulder Season and The Second Home. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The Sun magazine, and in various literary journals, including Glimmer Train, Pleiades, and Hobart. She holds a Ph.D. in creative writing.

Praise For…

Praise for Shoulder Season:

"Don’t head for the beach, pool or lake without this glamorous new read tucked in your tote bag."

"An unusual but mesmerizing coming of age tale."

"A perfect beach read."

"A burst of heady independence and excitement [that] develops into a love triangle with tragic results."
––New York Post

"A striking portrayal of a glamorous piece of history."

"A story filled with tension, excitement, love, indulgence, tragedy, and redemption...Clancy doesn’t disappoint."
––Provincetown Banner

"A rare glimpse into an unexamined world."
––Madison Magazine

"Shoulder Season is a triumph of heart, of courage, and of resilience, and a message that the tragedies that spark our journeys don’t decide their endings. I loved it."
––J. Ryan Stradal, bestselling author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

"Shoulder Season shines a bright light on a neglected moment in history and tells a coming-of-age story I've truly never read before. In Sherri, Clancy rescues the Playboy Bunny from ridicule and illuminates her inner life with all of the richness and complexity she deserves."
––Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send For Me

"I adored the story of Sherri, an unlikely Playboy Bunny, and her wild and poignant adventures inside the Lake Geneva Playboy Resort. Both a tender coming of age novel and a sun-drenched ride, Shoulder Season is an absolute pleasure."
––Amanda Eyre Ward, New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters

"Shoulder Season is a delight. Briskly plotted, the book moves like a river through time, sweeping the reader along for an unexpected, humorous, and surprising journey of friendship, exploration, and discovery."
––Nickolas Butler, bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs

"With literary flair and great empathy, Clancy chronicles the exhilaration and disillusionment of a small-town girl who takes a job as a Bunny during the waning days of Wisconsin’s Playboy Resort. Seamlessly researched and beautifully written, Shoulder Season vividly evokes a uniquely 1980s kind of glamour that’s almost inconceivable today. Clancy’s story of a young woman’s difficult road to independence hums with contemporary resonance. Clancy is a gifted storyteller, and Shoulder Season is a riveting tale of ambition, romance, friendship, heartbreak and hope."
––Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party

"Shoulder Season is a beautifully-written, thrilling, heartbreaking story of a bumpy coming of age. A page-turner full of twists and surprises, Bunnies and bad boyfriends, and lasting sisterhood found in unexpected places. I loved it."
––Julia Claiborne Johnson, bestselling author of Be Frank With Me

"I tore through this vibrant coming-of-age tale of small-town girls seduced by a new life of sex and glitter just miles from their quiet Wisconsin towns. Clancy’s vulnerable characters come roaring to life in full eighties glamour, before spiraling toward a central tragedy that will define their adult lives and the very definition of home."
––Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus

"Expertly researched and flawlessly executed, Shoulder Season has a bit of everything: adventure and excess; love and heartbreak; shocking tragedy. You’ll start reading for the wild ride of the Playboy Resort but stay for Sherri, the complex protagonist at the heart of this exquisite novel. Clancy is a master of place, rendering Wisconsin so vividly that I’m homesick for somewhere I’ve never been. I’ll be thinking about this novel for a long time."
––Amy Meyerson, author of The Imperfects

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250761507
ISBN-10: 1250761506
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022
Pages: 336
Language: English