Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: The Beach House

Summary: She’s known as the crazy woman who lives in the big old rambling house on the top of a bluff in Nantucket, but at sixty-five-years old, Nan doesn’t care what people think. If her neighbours are away, why shouldn’t she skinny dip in their swimming pools? Her husband died twenty years ago, her beauty has faded, her family flown, and when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is running out and she may lose her beloved house, she knows she has to make drastic changes. Slowly people start moving in to the house, filling it with noise again, with laughter, and with tears. There is Daniel, recently divorced and a father of two girls, who is struggling to find out who he really is, and Daff, the single mother of a truculent teenager who blames her unreservedly for the divorce. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family extending. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor throws all their lives upside down. -- Viking

I rarely review a book that I checked out of the library, but I enjoyed THE BEACH HOUSE by Jane Green so much that I wanted to share my thoughts on this book. I have to start by saying that I have read everything by Jane Green that I can get my hands on; and I almost always like her books. I think I've read all of them (or at least the ones published in the U.S.) and I think she's a terrific storyteller. I consider her earlier books to be "chick lit," but her latest ones have been kind of a "mature chick lit" -- meaning that they are about adults rather than young, single women who live in a major city! I guess the "proper" term is woman's fiction.

THE BEACH HOUSE is a perfect summertime read -- it has a little bit of everything. The readers is introducted to many characters in the first few chapters; in fact, I admit that it take take me a little while to keep them all straight. All of the characters seem to be at a major crossroad in their lives and they are all struggling to find what will make them happy. As I got to know each of the characters, I liked each of them for a different reason. I enjoyed following their stories and seeing them learn about themselves.

As the book progresses, each of the characters end up as boarders in Nan's Nantucket house. Once they arrive here, their lives (and the storylines) intersect and the characters evenutally become one big family in "the beach house." Despite all the heartache and troubles that they have faced in their lives, they all end up finding some sort of comfort during their stay -- it's almost as if the house has some healing properties (or at the very least something that causes people to form bonds with each other.)

I loved Ms. Green's descriptions of Nantucket, and especially her details about Nan's house. I could picture the beach house so well that it was almost another character in the story. I enjoyed that the book ended with not only happy endings for each of the characters, but also a happy ending for the beach house. I thought Ms. Green did a wonderful job with this book, and I liked how she even kept a few surprises for the end!

If there was one thing in this book that I didn't get, it was situation with Daniel -- a husband with two children who admits that he is gay. I liked the character of Daniel very much, but I just didn't feel that the description of his life once he was out of the closet was very realistic. Keep in mind that I do not know anyone who has experienced a situation like this in real life, so maybe I'm way off base when I say this. It seemed like his major issue was in admitting that he was gay. The transition he made from his straight life to his new lifestyle seemed to be almost too easy.

As I mentioned earlier, this book is an ideal summer read. It is relatively light and easy to read but it also has some parts that are of a more serious nature. I love that the characters all find some sort of peace by the end of the book and that the reader is left with happy thoughts! I think many book clubs would enjoy reading this novel and talking about it. Some people might even find themselves relating to certain characters in the story, especially those that are dealing with family drama, divorce, infidelity, aging parents, and unruly teenagers. There are discussion questions available here if you want to get a better idea about the story.

If you aren't familiar with any of Jane Green's books, you really should read a few. They are light reads and very entertaining!


Anonymous said...

I have her book, Swapping Lives, on my bookshelf, but haven't yet read it. I really need to pick it up!

Ti said...

I've never read any of Green's books but after your review, I am going to look them up. I love "feel good" summer reads but they tend to be geared for the younger reader so hearing that this one is a bit more mature.. that's enough to make me want to read it.

Julie said...

The Beach House is on my TBR list and I've read a majority of her books also. She's always a good read.

Jill said...

Great review! I really enjoyed this, too. And you're exactly right...she has progresed from chick lit to "mature chick lit" (love it) over the past few years/books.

Darlene said...

Thanks for the great review. I've heard of this author often but never read one of her books. You've made me realize I should. This one sounds like a great light reaad when you're craving one. It'll be added to the list.

Unknown said...

I have wanted to read a beach read.
I have not read a beach read in many years. And I am not talking about romance. I am just in the mood for something that has location, and women not 20+, but middle age with kids.
I have wanted to pick up the Beach House for a month. Your nice review gives me another reason to try it out.
I just started reading Barefoot, that is almost like that too.
I just found another by Claire Cook that I just picked up.
I would like to read to just be entertained. It is time for a change.

Cheryl said...

Good Review.

Hey sorry I haven't been around much but my main computer died on my and the one I am currently using is slow and does not have all my favorite links on it. LOL