Good morning Bibliofriends,
Beach Read was exactly the type of hangover cure I needed to get me out of my 2-week reading slump. It almost comes across as two sides of a coin – funny, yet deep; romantic, yet heartbreaking – one moment you’re wanting to put yourself in January’s shoes, the next you’re glad you don’t have to live through the bereavement she’s had to face. Then on top of all that – there’s the homage to books, writing and the added bonus of practically reading books within a book. It was an utter delight from start to finish.
Book: Beach Read by Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 18th 2020
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
He doesn’t believe in happy endings.
She’s lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?
January is a hopeless romantic who likes narrating her life as if she’s the heroine in a blockbuster movie.
Augustus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
January and Augustus are not going to get on.
But they actually have more in common than you’d think:
They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.
The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first.
The catch? They have to swap genres.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…
What made me read Beach Read? I needed a break from all of the witchy, spooky fiction and folklore I had consumed myself with over the past month. That, coupled with the fact that I wanted to cling on to those last glorious rays of summer – Beach Read seemed to offer me exactly that.
This may sound odd (complete book rambling – apologies), but the first thing I had to contend with when starting ‘Beach Read’ was that I had
shamefully I knowanticipated a chick-litty rom-com taking place on a far-off tropical paradise of a popular holiday destination, when actually the novel takes place around a quaint town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Having not visited anywhere outside of Disneyworld and living in a leafy, hilly area of the UK, nearby lakes and bodies of water are nowhere near the size comparison of the type of Great Lakes in the US and Canada so I had to adjust my perception of the type of beach read I’d be reading. Chick-litty, it was not… Holiday destination, it also was not…
January starts off by not wanting to even be at the beach house but with the introduction of next-door-neighbour-also-author Gus, Pete and Maggie (Sapphic couple), owners of a café/bookshop, we gradually get let in to the life of North Bear Shores and all of the adventures that await our protagonist. I grew to love this bunch of characters; the way they look out for each other, the stories that give us deeper insight into their histories – it was almost Goldilocks style ‘just-right’ perfection.
The plot centres, quite brilliantly, around two authors suffering from writers’ block and the bet they enter into to embark on research trips benefitting the other’s genre and writing style. This leads to some of the most memorable, funny and moving parts of the novel. The balance between what constitutes literary fiction and what makes up the romance genre gradually get explored; the lines between them becoming blurred as two authors find their inspiration from each other and learn to face their own personal demons at the same time. A book about writers writing their novels – what more could a book-loving, aspiring author want to read?!
And then there’s the romance – my heart and stomach was swooping and diving the whole way through (and it isn’t often that books like this will do that to me). I was absolutely rooting for Gus and January – every obstacle that got in the way had me screaming at them with my silent reading megaphone in my head – two battered souls helping each other heal… It was steamy, it was heartbreaking, it was tender; but what’s more, it was real, believable and so entirely relatable which is probably why my bookish soul became so entangled with it.
I wanted to live through January and put myself in her shoes – until Emily Henry skilfully brings you back to earth and plays the dysfunctional family card. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that there is no such thing as an entirely happy family. Each one has their own vices, demons and secrets which are lived through behind closed doors. January Andrews is no different and learning the truth of her father’s actions and motivations, why things were the way they were was the big mountain she was trying to face. The tentative, nostalgic way she finally confronts this towards the end of the novel, is the part which gave me tiny tears rolling down my face whilst trying to read. It’s a stark reminder that the flip-side of love is sometimes loss and on a really personal level it harkened to my greatest fear of losing the people I love the most. That balance between joyfully finding love whilst going through the devastation of bereavement was so beautifully handled, written and dealt with. I think that’s why I was so thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed and cherished this book.
Happy endings don’t matter if the getting there sucks.
It didn’t take inspiration to dredge up a list of plot points, but to find that moment – the perfect moment that defined a book, that made it come alive as something greater than the sum of its words – that required an alchemy you couldn’t fake.
No matter how much shit, there will always be wildflowers.
We can never fully know the people we love. When we lose them, there will always be more we could have seen.
The only promise you ever had in life was the one moment you were living.
Why Should I Read This?
For a swoon worthy, heart-fluttering romance.
For the tender balance between love, loss and facing our inner demons.
For the homage to writers and books which bounces off the pages.
This is a bookishly great romance novel which goes deeper than your average ‘chick-lit’ style aspects of the genre. It’s an incredibly moving story with two highly relatable characters on their quest to get their mojo back. I loved it!