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Beachcombers: A Novel Hardcover – June 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

Elin Hilderbrand Reviews Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer

Elin Hilderbrand is the author of The Island, forthcoming in July 2010, as well as the New York Times bestseller, The Castaways. She lives on Nantucket with her husband Chip and their three children. Read her review of Beachcombers:

To quote some really old, really good Lionel Richie, Nancy Thayer’s newest novel, Beachcombers, is easy like a Sunday morning. It’s the kind of book you can trust to fulfill all your expectations; it will leave you feeling optimistic and satisfied. It is a cinnamon-colored cat kind of a novel; it is a hot mug of ginger tea kind of a novel.

The book tells the story of the Fox family-–father Jim, who has lost his wife to depression/suicide-–and his three lovely daughters. The daughters congregate in the family home on Nantucket Island when the middle daughter, Emma, suffers a broken engagement and the loss of her job and savings. Older sister Abbie flies home from London where she has been working as an au pair, and Lily, the spoiled daughter, done as well as Amy March, gets her very pretty feathers ruffled when Abbie and Emma bond over her head, leaving her out, even though she is the one daughter who has remained on the island at home with their father. Also on the scene this summer is renter Marina, who is reeling from one of those hideous heart-rending shocks-–after trying to have a baby with her husband for years, her husband confesses that he in love with her best friend and not only that but the best friend is pregnant. Thankfully, Jim Fox is just what the cardiologist ordered.

Thayer documents the girls’ return home to the island they love beautifully. I have lived on Nantucket for seventeen years myself and I found that in reading Thayer’s novel it was at once familiar and brand new. The three girls start an odd jobs business called Nantucket Mermaids and Thayer has these girls hopping-–from landscaping in the morning to reading to the elderly in the afternoon to babysitting at night. Just reading this novel, I was exhausted--and impressed-–and boy did I sympathize when youngest daughter Lily didn’t find time to make it to the grocery store! The odd jobs put the girls in position to meet new leading men, and they all do, though a seasoned reader wonders if they’re not moving a bit too fast. It’s not a worry that sticks, however. In Thayer’s expert hands, you just know that even if the relationships don’t last, her charming and self-aware characters are going to be just fine.

Nancy Thayer on Beachcombers

Twenty-seven years ago, I’d been divorced for three years. I lived with my small son and daughter, our two cats and one dog, in a Massachusetts college town. I’d dated a bit, unsuccessfully, and I was feeling so pessimistic about romance that I decided I’d forget men and buy a horse. Seriously.

Then I came to Nantucket for the first time to visit a friend, and I met a friend of hers--a man named Charley, tall, blue-eyed, kind, who read books and owned a record store. We sat up all night talking, and now we’ve been married twenty-five years.

Since then I’ve believed in the healing power of this island. And also in the healing power of change. Of taking a chance. Of dragging ourselves out of our pity pit and trying something new.

In Beachcombers, Marina comes to the island to heal. She meets a wonderful man--and she meets his three adult daughters, who are dealing with their own fears, losses, and desires. Emma has lost her fiancé, her job, her plans, her dreams. She’s come home defeated, hopeless and apathetic. Lily, the baby, wants glamour and excitement and pretty clothes. She also wants someone else to do the dishes. Abbie, at thirty, the oldest, has been the nurturer ever since their mother died when Abbie was fifteen and Lily was only seven. Abbie hasn’t had a chance to consider what she wants, and she’s surprised when she finds that what she wants is a man who’s already taken.

Healing isn’t an easy process, and change isn’t easy either, as the sisters and Marina discover. The four women strive and dream and discover that life has surprises in store for them. It’s like beachcombing--you never can guess what’s going to be lying there, waiting for you. Or whether you’re going to be brave enough to take what life offers, or strong enough to take it all. Only seashells on the beach can be lifted away easily and free.

I’ve dedicated this book to my younger sister, Martha, who has always been so important in my life. I’m fascinated by sisters, and by families. It seems that those we struggle with are often the ones who also heal us--and who care that we are healed. There are many kinds of romantic and family love in Beachcombers, as in life.

From Publishers Weekly

After her husband leaves her for one of her best friends, middle-aged Marina Warren takes a friend's advice and retreats to Nantucket, the stomping grounds of her youth. She rents a cottage from handsome local widower Jim Fox, who has recently welcomed back his two older daughters, Emma and Abbie, into the house he shares with his third daughter, Lily. Emma has recently lost her job and been left by her fiancé, while Abbie has decided to start an odd-jobs company servicing the wealthy summer crowd. Lily, meanwhile, earns a living as a society reporter for the local magazine and stews in her resentment toward her sisters (who return the sentiment) and newcomer Marina, who clearly has eyes for her father. As each search for fulfillment (and a man), they encounter vexing villains, class struggle, and good old-fashioned romance. Thayer gives narration duties to each sister and Marina in turn, keeping the proceedings fun and engrossing, if a bit repetitive. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345518284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345518286
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,207,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

An Island Christmas is my 26th novel, set here on this wild island where I've lived for 30 years. I write about what I know & love: happy, slightly eccentric (aren't we all?), families, including cats and dogs. I post daily on Facebook and love to get to know my readers, and I send out a newsletter you can sign up for on my website: Nancy Thayer. Nantucket Sisters was my 2014 summer novel, all about a rich girl and a poor girl becoming best friends one Nantucket summer. This island is a wealth of inspiration!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm all about a good beach read, but this was ridiculous. I like a little smut and happy endings, but really? The women in this book are so superficial and the happy endings? It's like Nantucket is the Bermuda Triangle of reality. I finished the last quarter of this book LAUGHING that it could possibly be this awful. ****SPOILER ALERT**** Of course the barren women chooses the old dad over her hot husband with brand new baby begging her to return. Of course the father leaves his successful divorce attorney wife for the nanny AND the wife almost thanks the nanny for taking him???!! Everyone has sex on the first date, ends up getting engaged within a week and lives happily ever after. God forbid any tragedy befalls my life. If it does, I'm moving to Nantucket for the summer because apparently there, everything works out! This will be my first and last Nancy Thayer book.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on July 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Beachcombers is the story of three sisters who come back home to Nantucket for the summer. Lily - the youngest sister - emails Abbie - the oldest sister - to come home because she is concerned about Emma who is going through a nasty breakup as well as their father, Jim's financial issues. Jim rents out the girl's childhood playhouse to Marina who is recovering from a divorce. Their mother had formed the Beachcombers Club with them when they were children, teaching them to look for something more in the sand and in life. After she had died when the girls were young, Abbie tries to take over the role as mother as best she can. As adults, each of the women are in need of hope and healing, and the beautiful setting of Nantucket seems to be just the ticket. On their arrival back to Nantucket, the girls seem to fall back into their appointed roles as sisters. Nancy Thayer does an excellent job describing beautiful Nantucket - I could almost feel the sand between my toes. Lily drove me nuts! She enjoyed her role as a society reporter just a tad too much which made her come across as shallow to me. One of my favorite characters was Millicent Bracebridge, an elderly woman Emma was hired to read to every day. She was very wise and full of grand advice. I wouldn't mind spending an afternoon reading Agatha Christie to her, one of her favorites. I loved every minute I spent reading this novel. Each chapter is told from one of the women's perspectives but the story flows very nicely. I enjoyed the dynamics between the four women and the people they encounter over the summer. There were enough twists and turns to keep me reading. This book is a great summer read - not too demanding but quite enjoyable.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By EJ on July 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You know how every now and then you just want a simple and sweet book to read? This is the one for you. I've read a few 'chick-lit' books recently that simply failed to deliver, with insipid women who take themselves too seriously. This book was the perfect antidote.

The story follows three sisters-Abbie, Emma, and Lily, as they struggle to define themselves after some major changes in their lives. Natives of Nantucket, they all end up at home for the summer, along with their father and a woman appropriately named Marina who decides to rent their guest cottage by the sea.

This book goes down smoothly, like a refreshing cold lemonade on a hot summer day. There is really no deep conflict and nothing to upset or get you thinking too deeply. If you want a light summer read that won't bring you down, I recommend it highly.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mrs.CH3 on July 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Beachcombers is the story of three sisters- Abbie, Emma and Lily- from the island of Nantucket. Following the sudden death of their mother when they were young, Abbie stepped up to help her father, Jim, by becoming the mother of the family.

Abbie spent the majority of her teenage years and early twenties taking care of her younger sisters, so when the opportunity arose for her to be a nanny for a wealthy family and travel with them- she took it.

After college, Emma landed a great job in a big city, making great money. In the blink of an eye, though, she looses it all- her job, the money she was saving to help her family, her fiancé- who left her for another woman. Suddenly Emma finds herself back on "the island" (as locals call Nantucket) with no idea how to start over.

Lily, the baby of the family was gorgeous with an awesome personality to boot. Since she was only seven when her mother passed away, Lily was used to being babied. Unlike her sisters, Lily returned to the island after college and helped her father run the home. Secretly, though, Lily longed for something more- something beyond the island.

Marina was a very successful business woman, who built her company from the ground up with her husband. They lived a lavish and successful life and were completely happy- except for one thing- Marina couldn't have a baby. So when her husband surprises her one day by telling her that he's leaving her for her best friend- Dara- who was also pregnant. Marina finds herself getting divorced, selling her 1/2 of the business she helped build and running as far away as she can... and she ends up on the island looking for a way to heal from her hurt. She ends up renting a place to live from Jim Fox, the father to all three girls mentioned above.
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