The Beach House review
Nan Powell is a free-spirited, sixty-five-year-old widow who’s not above skinny-dipping in her neighbors’ pools when they’re away and who dearly loves her Nantucket home. But when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is dwindling, she realizes she must make drastic changes to save her beloved house. So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach.
Slowly people start moving in to the house, filling it with noise, laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family and friends expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside down. As she did so masterfully in her New York Times bestseller Second Chance, Jane Green once again proves herself one of the preeminent writers of contemporary women’s fiction.
Review and Grade: D+
The Beach House was a disappointment to say the least. I’m a big Jane Green fan, but this one just did not do it for me. It was chick lit at its worst: little substance, weak writing and character development, and forced romance in a pretty setting. As I read, I felt like Green had simply filled in a template for chick lit instead of putting in the effort to actually develop the novel on her own. I know she’s a brilliant chick lit writer, which makes The Beach House all the more disappointing.
There were times when she got preachy, with long dialogues about politics or “the old days,” although the characters certainly weren’t old, that didn’t add anything to the plot or development. In fact, it just turned me off further. In this regard, I believe her editor really failed her. Not only did no one tell her to cut down on the diatribes, but I can’t tell you the number of times she described the teenager in the book as “truculent” (think Bella’s descriptions of Edward in Twilight). There were also a number of British phrases thrown in throughout that would make me wonder if one of the characters was supposed to be British. They weren’t. All of these things would be minor is they hadn’t occurred so often that it was seriously distracting.
I know this sounds like quite a dig and it’s not meant to be. It was just so disappointing to me that it probably seems worse than it is. As a beach read, it’s fine, because you don’t expect much in a beach read (I don’t anyway). Since I’m guessing this was designed to be a beach read, The Beach House does not fail on all fronts. Just many.