Two novel writers with opposing life views meet in Emily Henry’s “Beach Read”
“I was in pain, so much of it that for once I couldn’t laugh or dance any measure of it away. I couldn’t even write myself a happy ending.” January Andrews meets her rival writer August Everett during the worst moment of her life. After losing her father and breaking up with her boyfriend, January is finding it hard to write a happy-ending novel again. Could August’s dark writing style be the answer to her dilemma?
The storyline is somewhat like this: two former college rivals-turned authors find themselves in the same place at adjacent houses in front of a beach overlooking Lake Michigan. They hated each other (or so it seemed). They competed against each other. But still, they managed to fall in love with each other.
“…his gaze was so furiously dark it seemed to dig into me, and I rocked with his motion, responding to his touch.
The corner of his mouth twitched as his eyes moved back to mine. The intensity of his dark eyes on my chest, drinking me in and taking his time doing it, made me shift and squirm as if I could grind against it. ”
The special factor in Emily Henry’s “Beach Read” is not in the straightforward synopsis but in the stories of each character and their complex backstories. January Andrews recently just lost her father. During his funeral, she found out that he was cheating on his ill mother. She flew to Michigan on a house where his father’s indiscretions occurred. There she hopes to find some answers while grieving, reconciling the father she knew with the father who she just recently discovered.
“But it was just a story, and when one gaping plot hole appeared, the whole thing unraveled. That’s how stories work.”
August Everett is your usual brooding leading man, but his story, while typical (abusive father, sad childhood, etc.), gives legitimacy to his character. “He was a realist who was a little too afraid of hope to see things clearly when it came to his own life.”
So a bubbly young woman meets a brooding man. It’s not new. What makes this novel special is the magic that the setting and the characters bring, elevating a typical plot into a compelling story. Henry’s description of the setting is so vivid it gives a somewhat magical feel when reading it (the lake house, the bookstore/coffee shop). While the cult part is stimulating, I didn’t enjoy it that much.
The idea of two authors of different genres with opposing views on life is like the formula for romantic movies, resulting in a predictable story flow (and ending). I couldn’t also connect with January’s pain of losing his father. This is weird because I just lost mine over a year ago.
“And I’d felt secretly heartbroken that the world could do this to us again.”
(Sun god Worthy. 4 out of 5 stars). The sexual tension between January and Gus was strong from the get-go but what makes this novel work is how Henry created these complex characters. I just wish that “Beach Read” also includes Gus’ point of view. That’ll be interesting. Maybe a new book with his pov is in order.
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