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A Touch of Summer

The Beach House by Jane Green

If a book could be a summer's day – slightly too long grass tickling skin as eyes gaze sleepily up at a cloudless sky, the soft smell of hydrangeas blooming nearby, then that book would be The Beach House. This isn't necessary a bad thing, but, just like with such a relaxing day, the novel lacks any real sense of urgency. As a once proud family matriarch struggles to retain possession of the one last thing which identifies her life: her Nantucket estate; as a newly-single mother realizes that, in becoming first a wife, then a mother, and then a divorcee, she lost herself; as a man torpedos his own life by having an affair with a woman he only realizes too late that he doesn't love; and as another man, after more than three decades, two children, and one wife, realizes he's gay, the story flows from one revelation to another, from moment to moment of growth and hard-earned wisdom but never once culminates into a climax. It's a deep sea but absolutely still, no waves. Green writes the story beautifully. The characters are real and sympathetic, compelling, and the story itself is character driven. It's even well-paced. Maybe its path is just too smooth, though – the angst too mellow, the romance not tempestuous enough so that, by the time the journey is over and the last page read, the entire effort just proves to be forgettable. If not read in a single sitting – perhaps during that previously mentioned summer's day, then The Beach House may just end up languishing half read, forgotten forever, never finished.

3 out of 5 Stars

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January 2014


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