Return to the Beach House is a perfect read for summer. It’s told in chunks, as it tells the story of 3 different groups who stay in the beach house over the course of a year. That means that if you have a scattered schedule, it can easily be put down and picked back up. It’s light and easy reading as well, although in the masterful way of skilled women’s fiction, it tells stories that do touch the heart and the core issues of identity without feeling too heavy or sad.
The first bit of the summer is devoted to Allison, who lost both her husband and her son years ago, and her grandson Christopher. He’s getting ready to go off to college but is wondering if he really wants to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in their memory. Is he finally ready to live his own life? Is Allison?
Then the beach house is occupied by 4 college friends. They’re no longer college coeds, but transitioning into their 40s. They’ve tried to meet up for an extended visit every four years, but life has gotten in the way — thriving and failing businesses, illness, divorce — and it’s been six years since they’ve seen one another. It seems like that would give them more reason get together not less. But it’s easier to hide the reality of their lives over phone calls and social media. Will this visit help them open up? Will they ask each other for help where needed?
And then a couple comes for a winter visit. Lindsey and Matthew are both photojournalists and so their schedules do not give them much time together either. It also allows them to hide their true needs and wants from one another. Matthew is finally feeling ready to settle down, but he knows that Lindsey’s job comes first, she’s proven that time and again by rescheduling their meetups time and again. He loves her and wants her in his life, but is it possible for them to devote time to their meaningful careers and carve out space to nurture their own spirits?
Return to the Beach House: A Beach House Novel is part of a sort of loose type of series, as the subtitle indicates. I haven’t read any of the other Beach House novels, and you don’t need to. Supporting characters show up, and it seems that the first Beach House novel is centered around the owners of the beach house, but other than that, all seem to stand alone telling stories of those who come to the Beach House. I certainly didn’t feel like I needed any more background info.
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