80 of 90 people found the following review helpful
My first beach read of 2014,
This review is from: The Vacationers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It is hard to distinguish yourself as an author in the dysfunctional family arena. Authors have already taken me to a shiva, summer houses, weddings and funerals. This time a two week vacation in Mallorca, Spain becomes the backdrop, as we follow the ups and downs of the Post family and friends.
From the beginning, no one is particularly thrilled about this sojourn. Initially booked as a 35th wedding anniversary present, the Post marriage is now in flux. 60 year old Jim has recently been forced to resign as the editor of a New York Magazine for his dalliance with a 23 year old intern. His wife Fanny is a writer "going around the world and writing about what she ate" is deciding what her next course of action might be. Sylvia, their 18 year old daughter, is ready to begin Brown University in the fall and wants to lose her virginity. She is disheartened to see the fighting among her parents and has recently gone through her own angst due to her girl /boyfriend's duplicitous actions. 28 year old Bobby is a realtor and lives in Florida. He is a casualty of the real-estate bubble. He has been living with his girlfriend Carmen, who is 10 years older, for seven years without making a commitment. Carmen is an instructor at the Total Body Power and feels like an outsider, everything she does in order to please her boyfriend's family "never seemed to be right". Charles is Fanny's best friend and he and husband Lawrence have been trying to adopt a baby to complete their family.
Author Emma Straub appears to make all the right decisions. Instead of using alternating chapters with a lot of back-story, she jumps from character to character, as the book starts on Day One of the vacation and ends on Day Fourteen. This keeps the pace flowing as you are never bogged down with a story-line that is wearisome. Mallorca, in all its beauty, lends to the atmosphere that cries out "beach read".
This is a book filled with knowable characters whose relationships authentically capture the discord that is sometimes part of family life. While it must be challenging to come up with a new spin on dysfunctional families, these characters were well drawn and likeable and some of the observations in the book were spot on. Many of the characters do grow and learn from their mistakes and while the ending may be predictable, there is nothing wrong with a feel good conclusion. It you indulge in this genre of book, it is recommended.
"Friendships were tricky things, especially friendships as old as theirs was. Nudity was nothing more than a collection of hard-earned scars and marks. Love was a given, uncomplicated by sex or vows, but honesty was always waiting there, ready to capsize the steady boat".
4-1/2 stars rounded to 5.