Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review: Beach Trip by Cathy Holton

Here is a summary of Beach Trip from Cathy Holton's website:

A reunion between four friends becomes a cathartic journey into the past in Cathy Holton’s luminous new novel. Mel, Sara, Annie, and Lola have traveled distinct and diverse paths since the early 1980s and their years together at a small Southern liberal arts college. Mel, a mystery writer living in New York, contends with the aftermath of two failed marriages and a stalled writing career. Sara, an Atlanta attorney, struggles with guilt over her son’s illness and her own slowly unraveling marriage. Annie, a successful Nashville businesswoman married to her childhood sweetheart, can’t seem to leave the regrets of her youth behind her. And Lola, sweet-tempered and absent-minded, whiles away her hours and her husband’s money, on little pills that keep her happy.

Now the friends, all in their forties, converge on Lola’s idyllic North Carolina beach house in an attempt to relive the carefree days of their college years. But as the week wears on, and each woman’s hidden story is gradually revealed, they find they must inevitably confront their shared past; a failed love affair, a discarded suitor, a betrayal, and a secret that threatens to change their bond, and their lives, forever.

My Review:

I just love the premise of this story! Four women that were best friends in college decide to enjoy a week long beach vacation together. Wouldn't that just be great to do with some of your closest girlfriends? These women are all in their forties now and even though they have tried to stay in touch for the most part, life seems to have taken them all on different paths. This book alternates very well between the past and the present. You will see little snippets along the way as to why some of these ladies have turned into reserved, nervous, distant, and distrustful people.

Since they graduated from college they haven't really gotten together, so Lola decides that it is time and invites them all to stay at her beach house on a little island just off the North Carolina coast for a week. After college Lola married Briggs Fuhrman and really hasn't pursued any personal interests of her own, so she puts all of her love and energy into raising her son Henry. She finds herself not wanting or needing anything at all, but also trying to keep a very demanding and possessive husband at bay.

Sara and Mel were best friends since they were young girls as they grew up in the same town together. Sara's family had a rough time of it, where as Mel had lived a very privileged life and really didn't have to work hard for anything. Their relationship is put to the ultimate test when they both fall for the same young man in college. Mel realizes that she doesn't ever want to focus on a relationship, so she flees her one love and her best friends to move to New York after college graduation to start a new and exciting life as a writer. The following is an excerpt from page 129 that I enjoyed that describes how Mel was pondering the loneliness that Lola must have been feeling:

It occurred suddenly to Mel that Lola was lonely. And Mel knew a thing or two about loneliness, although with her it was a condition she had chosen. Her career as a writer made a solitary life necessary but it was a choice she'd never really regretted. Well, most of the time, anyway. But with Lola the loneliness was forced, and that was different. Briggs had his money, Mel had her writing, Sara and Annie had their own families, but all Lola had ever had was Henry. And now Henry had found someone else.

Annie is an interesting character as she is probably considered the mirror of perfection to all of her friends. She was always known for her schedules running like clockwork and her meticulous house cleaning skills. When Annie went to college, she left her high school sweetheart at home, but eventually marries him after her graduation. Annie's secret life from her college days is revealed throughout the novel, and she finds herself needing to pour out her feelings to her friends to come to terms with the mistakes that she made.

When the trip started these ladies were very reserved and seemed to be hiding their deepest fears from each other. But by their final evening together they were able to share their secrets and offer the love and support to one another that has been missing for way too long. This was such a great novel that delved into the themes of friendship, love and forgiveness. I think it will make a great beach read as it will probably make you laugh and cry. You may want to call up that friend that you haven't talk to in the last five years just to catch up. This book will make you realize that good friends are worth the heartache and they don't come a dime a dozen.

I want to give a special thank you to Caitlin from Ballentine Books for providing me with this review copy. In the genre of women's fiction I definitely recommend this novel and give it a high rating.

My Rating: 5/5


Serena said...

i haven't read this one yet, but now I will just have to see what all the fuss is about.

Laura's Reviews said...

Wow - this sounds like a fun book. I love books about the friendship between women!

bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was fun and I just loved the ending!

ANovelMenagerie said...

Wow... you liked this one a lot more than I did. I liked it... but, I didn't love it. It could have just been the mood I was in when I read it... Who knows?

Hope all is well!


Ti said...

I do love the premise and it would be a blast to do this with friends.

I am really choosy when it comes to women's fiction because I know how women can be in real life and sometimes I just don't like how relationships between women are portrayed in books.

Do you feel that the relationships rang true?

Jo-Jo said...

Serena and Laura: It really was a fun book to read.

Kathy: I also loved the ending--about halfway through the book I had a suspicion, and that rang true at the just made me laugh.

Sheri: I do think that I read this book at just the right time...I needed something refreshing and fun, but yet with some significant themes going on.

Ti: I know what you mean and I think the relationships were portrayed pretty well. They weren't all sugar coated and hoakie. Even though they were friends, there were some trust issues they had to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a perfect score!! This one is on mys wishlist.

Anna said...

I've heard good things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it, too. I hope to have a chance to read it at some point.

Diary of an Eccentric

TexasRed said...

I hadn't heard about this one, but am interested now that I've read your review. Thanks!

Jess said...

I enjoyed this book as well, my only complaint was that I felt the middle was a little slow.

I would love to link your review to mine, send me an email if you are interested.