Monday, 28 July 2008

The Beach House by Jane Green

Penguin €14.99

SECRETS are in the air in Nantucket. The island, once the world focus for whaling, is now trendyland, flocking with wealthy Manhattanites on their holidays.
Decrepit femme fatale Nan, a local eccentric who lives in one of the few beautiful old houses untouched by the gobbling developers, has run into money trouble.
She's sitting on a house that could realise $10m, but the last thing she wants is to have a developer tear it down.
Long ago Nan's husband, Everett, disappeared. He left his clothes on the beach, and left her to face a mountain of gambling debts.
Nan made a go of it then; now her financial adviser is telling her that she really is in trouble as the markets plunge.
She knows there must be some way of making money from her assets. But a sale of the valuable antique furniture and heritage clothes and jewellery fails to bring in the expected thousands.
So she opens the house up for paying guests. Of course I'm going to give them breakfast, she says - I'd feel embarrassed not to feed people.
As the house fills up with the lovelorn and lost, everyone cooks and gardens together, and relationships start to form between the tenants, their children, spouses, lovers, friends and parents.
That's before the secrets start to come out. As does the gay man who's never been able to tell those closest to him.
And the broken girl who shoplifts for the thrill that replaces love. And the wife astonished and hurt by her husband's failure.
Nan's healing power gets to work on her own son - haunted by an ill-judged affair - and on step-children and lovers and matches made in heaven.
With simple writing, likeable characters, and plot twists that are just about believable, The Beach House is a lovely, cosy read. You can practically smell the healing sea air off it.

No comments: