Beach Read by Emily Henry: a summer read in the fall
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Genre: Romance, Chick Lit
Published May 2020; 358 pages
This was picked by my sister and me for a Buddy Read back in the summer. The library wait was so long, we just got it, so we're reading it in the fall. This is my third book by Henry - I didn't particularly care for People We Meet on Vacation but Book Lovers was better - it felt more substantial.
First Sentence: "I have a fatal flaw."
Meet Gus (Augustus Everett) and January Andrews, both best selling authors. He writes literary fiction with a dark side, she writes happily-ever-after romances. Both are suffering from writer's block after their last successful book.
They find themselves as neighbors in a small town in Michigan, both going through some "stuff" and not in a good place for a flirtation, let alone a relationship. Through a series of events they meet, disagree on what constitutes a good point of view for a book, and, of course, make a bet. They each have to write a book out of their comfort zone and the first to sell their book wins the bet. He has to write something happy and she is to tackle the "great American novel".
Gus and January agree to two outings per week for research and inspiration. Gus agrees to field trips to typical rom-com locales: line dancing at the bar, a mini carnival. January agrees to accompany him to interview a former death cult member. Of course. Somewhere along the line, cupid's arrow strikes.
**ALERT - Unpopular opinion ahead! - - Donna and I both felt like the cover didn't do the story justice; in fact, it was misleading. It's not about them (or anyone) reading on beach blankets - it was too sweltery hot in summer and too cold by the time they spent one page at the end of the book actually reading on the beach. However, I do see that it makes a good companion to her other book covers, so I guess that's something.
Donna and I rediscovered that this genre is just not for us. She didn't care for it all. However, I enjoyed parts of it - I thought the quips and banter were often clever - I wish I could think on my feet so quickly! I liked that both characters came to the story with baggage - believable, real life baggage that they then proceeded to try to deal with. I felt like January's troubles were a bit more relatable to me, but she was pushing the bounds of angst-driven attitude by the middle of the book. There were some insightful, well written gems here and there too:
"Happy. Not giddy or overjoyed, but that low, steady level of happiness that, in the best periods of life, rides underneath everything else, a buffer between you and the world you are walking over."
As Donna and I were discussing the book, I was trying to articulate what I didn't like. I think it boiled down to the process of attraction, flirting, fighting feelings, giving in to feelings, and then the physical side of the attraction. The 'he put his hand in her hair, the other one on her waist'; her body was in this shape and hands were here......trying to follow along and visualize the positions and who had hands and mouths where was beyond me. And I've never read words that adequately describe the feeling of intense attraction or of sexual awakenings, or any of that - it always feels so contrived, so movie-script. Does that make sense? Like I said, not for me I guess.
If you DO enjoy romance - not sure I'd call this a rom-com because there's a heavier tone underlying their attraction - then this book is probably for you. January and Gus are both likeable characters, and like I mentioned, the banter can be quite entertaining, and there is the occasional insightful comment.