Click here to read reviewer Lewis's take on The Beach House.
Wherever Nan Powell goes, whispers seem to follow. At 65 years old, she is one of the older residents of the ĎSconset area of Nantucket and has quite a reputation around the island. Everyone thinks of her as the eccentric older woman who has lived alone for far too long. While not quite as crazy as she seems, Nan has been alone for a very long time. Her beloved husband, Everett, committed suicide after racking up an enormous gambling debt, leaving Nan to pay his bills and care for their young son, Michael. Now, Michael is lives in New York and has trouble finding the time to visit his aging mother.
One day, Nanís financial advisor comes to her with some dire news: all the money she put in a hedge fund is gone. Her best option now is to sell her property on Nantucket called Windermere, which is worth several million dollars. As Windermere is the only thing she has left of her dear Everett (she had to sell off the rest of the property in order to pay his debts), she canít bear the thought of losing the house. Therefore, she comes up with a brilliant plan: she will rent the rooms and run a B&B for the summer, inviting people into her home and slowly watching them become a part of her family.
While The Beach Houseís central character is Nan, multiple storylines slowly weave together to form a coherent whole, much as the various persons in the novel gradually come together as Nanís family. Bee and Daniel, a married couple with two beautiful young daughters, are having marital issues, though it is hard to determine exactly what the problem is. Thereís Daff and Richard, and their daughter, Jess, who has difficulty coping with what her parents are going through. Then thereís Michael, Nanís son, and his complicated relationship with his married boss, Jordana. Green tells all these stories seamlessly; there is no jarring disconnect, as happens so often in novels with multiple storylines.
Greenís talent is evident and shines through in her writing of the characters in the story. By the middle of the book, the reader is invested in each of these characters; it is important that they work through their problems and find a happier place. And at the end of the book, the reader is sad to leave these characters, to not be able to enjoy more of their stories.
The Beach House is the perfect beach read. It is a drama and, while very serious in some places, is never heavy - it never drags readers down or makes them feel as if they has an added weight on their shoulders. Instead, even at the most dramatic moments, it is hopeful and uplifting - a breath of fresh air. It helps to redefine the genre of ďbeach read;Ē these books are no longer complete fluff with a lack of depth. Instead, the nuances in The Beach House serve to give us a new view of beach reads (and womenís fiction in general). It is Greenís best work to date.