Lead Review

  • Book: Beach Read
  • Location: Michigan
  • Author: Emily Henry

Review Author: tripfiction



The premise of the novel is about two writers who happen to find themselves with writer’s block. They find themselves serendipitously living next door to each other over one Summer, as they battle their demons. Introducing January and Gus. January is getting over a relationship with Jacques, her mother has recently passed away through cancer and her father, also dead, was seeing another woman, here in this very house by the Lake where she is living, WHILST his wife was demising. Gus has had a tricky childhood and is grappling with the emotional fall-out. He has one or two secrets to reveal. He is not a committer when it comes to adult intimate relationships. He has also written a hugely successful book – The Revelatories (which didn’t remind me at all of The Luminaries…).

Further, the paths of these two crossed some years ago when they were studying at the University of Michigan, so they both have a little ‘history’.

The characters spend a lot of time chewing the cud – intellectual sparring, if you like – which could feel a little drawn out at times, and January is clearly one to be attracted to an emotionally broken and good-looking man. But it seems he is actually a good guy, but when the going gets tough, he disappears for a while.

So the scene is set for a potential romance. What the author does really well is the banter between the two, often loaded with flirtatious subtext, and she creatively conveys the fragility of understanding as a friendship turns into a potential relationship. She also puts forward the notion that the work of a male writer can appeal to both sexes. The work of a female writer, however, is all too often seen as ‘women only’. Thus, one evening, they each make a pact to write outside their usual genre.

This is the Amazon description: The ONLY laugh-out-loud love story you’ll want to escape with this summer. Well, it made me smile on occasion, it’s wryly penned at times, but for me, it is in not really laugh out loud. There is too much personal angst going on. I guess we all have different ideas around the notion of what makes someone “laugh out loud”.

I read this in digital form, so I can’t speak for the physical book. But what is it with the multitude of italics? Throughout this text both words (and phrases) were largely used for emphasis, which left me feeling that the author didn’t perhaps have the breadth of vocabulary to describe a given situation without resorting to italicising. Some italicising is quite usual in a book, but here it was off-putting and tooth grindingly irritating. The author is a perfectly competent writer and I am sure she could have found the words for emphasis.

This is clearly a book written by an American writer which is no problem. The title however, I think, is misleading for a UK audience. By beach read I think most people would expect the novel to be set by the sea rather than by a lake (and the lake setting was underused, given the title) and I think readers would expect it to have a slightly different content and context. Would love to hear what others feel?!

So, overall, probably not one for me but it is garnering lots of accolades, so do read it for yourself.

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750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

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