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The Last Beach Bungalow Paperback – Bargain Price, February 5, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, February 5, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Nash's winning debut, a long illness and mastectomy have put April Newton's life on hold for five years, and have made her and husband Rick practically strangers in and out of bed. As they prepare to move into the Redondo Beach, Calif., house Rick designed for them while she was still in treatment—with their teenage daughter, Jackie, in the throes of her first love—April's eye strays to a classic nearby beach bungalow being offered in a contest by an eccentric widow, who asks: What would you give—besides money—to live here? Under the guise of a shelter-magazine assignment, April tours the house of a sort that has all but disappeared, and meets its owner, who, for reasons of her own, promises to let it go below market to the most deserving applicant by Christmas. For April, it might be the perfect place to furnish a new life, one that might not have room for her distant husband and daughter. This grown-up fable replaces the erotics of sex with the erotics of floor plans, but April's midlife crisis and difficult adjustments ring true, as do the plot's surprising turns. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Nash writes with gentle certainty of the fact that life is full of uncertainty. Turning to fiction after writing nonfiction about breast cancer (The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming & Other Lessons I Learned from Breast Cancer, 2001), she begins with her protagonist’s all-important five-year mammogram and the realization that even with good results, April Newton’s scars are deeper than her mastectomy. And her restlessness stirs choppy waters not unlike those surrounding the lavish new home her husband, Rick, is building. The view embraces sailboats on the Los Angeles Basin and the southward migration of gray whales: “It was water all the time from almost every room. . . . It astonished me every time I saw it.” Just as stunning is her perception that the place is haunted—by mortality. As pressures build within the marriage, April hopes to win a contest for the last bungalow on Redondo Beach, a far cry from the luxury of Rick’s house. Their teen daughter sees this as a rejection of Rick, almost an illicit affair. Can April navigate such deep waters? --Whitney Scott

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (February 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425219275
  • ASIN: B001G8WRWE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,812,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
After having read The Last Beach Bungalow, Jennie Nash's first novel, all I can add is that I hope she keeps writing books as strongly written and as resonant as this one! It is truly one of the best books I've read in a long time and I read plenty of wonderful books, so that is saying something.

What will YOU, the reader, find to love about this one? Several things. For one, think of the way the word "home" is used in our language. We don't just use it alone but as part and parcel of so many evocative phrases and terms such as "being at home"...."make yourself at home"...."heart and home" ...."feeling at home"...."homey" ...and so forth.

Whether you've ever lived in a home you loved or are searching for your dream home, you'll relate to this book. Add a woman, April Newton, who is a cancer survivor and you have extra appeal, one that strikes hard for this reviewer who can't help feeling for a woman who is shaken to the core after a struggle with breast cancer.

Even though April has passed the 5 year watershed moment that ups her chances of beating cancer, she isn't feeling joyous. Call it post-traumatic disorder or just plain fear and grief but her life no longer resembles the one she once had. She misses her old life.

Instead of the intimate marriage she once had, she has a marriage full of tension and strain. April has been scared for so long that she has forgotten how to celebrate life, even in the wake of good new news. Meanwhile, her husband is trying to build their dream home.

That is when April sees an amazing ad for a beach bungalow in Redondo Beach, one which will be sold at a bargain price to the right person or family.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't plan to stay up late and read this book in one sitting, but that is exactly what happened. From the opening lines, I was drawn into April's world and wanted to keep reading to see where she was headed. Perhaps some of the connection with April and her story stems from my own cancer survivorship. Perhaps it stems from the ever-present search for the real sense of "home" and its significance. Perhaps Nash has just written a really engrossing story with very real characters--characters with whom I was able to instantly connect. No matter where the connection came from, this was a heartwarming read. And I am glad that I stayed up late to finish it!

April Newton has reason to celebrate. She is a five-year breast cancer survivor. But for April, the cloud that is called "cancer" won't allow her to fully surrender to living as a survivor. Trapped by the fears, doubts, and "unknowingness" that come with a cancer diagnosis, April finds herself confused and frightened about her own future as well as that of her marriage and her family.

With the cancer survivorship as the backstory, readers are introduced to April, her husband, Rick, and daughter Jackie as they are in the midst of building a new home that Rick designed for April at the time of her diagnosis. In an unexpected turn of events, as the Newtons' move-in-date approaches, April happens upon a beach house that is for sale far below market value "to the right buyer," as defined by its owner, Peg Torrey. Believing that she is meant to live in this house, April sets out to be the winner of the right to buy the property. But in the process, she is confronted with the real meaning of home and what it would take to make her feel the happiness she longs to feel as a survivor.
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Format: Paperback
Jennie Nash's debut novel is a beautifully written account of one woman's attempt to rediscover pleasure in her marriage after surviving a terrifying bout with breast-cancer. Nash's heroine, April Newton, has rebuffed death and now has everything to live for---but she doesn't know what or who to live for now that she is cancer-free. As a busy frelance magazine writer, the mother of a teenage girl, and wife to a successful builder, Newton is a lucky woman, with a beautiful new house under construction. The house is gift from her husband, but April can't help feeling that the new house does not represent a new lease on life. Nash navigates the tricky sexual dynamics that exist in marriage after one partner has survived an almost-fatal illness, and she brings the California coast-line to life in lush, vividly-written passages. You will remember April and her challenges long after you finish this memorable novel.
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Format: Paperback
I am still thinking about this book - 2 weeks after I finished reading it! I have passed it to friends and family to read and all have loved it. Older readers, younger readers, readers who have survived breast cancer and readers who have never had a serious illness...all have loved this story. It makes you think about home, about how to live and what living means. It makes you smile and nod as author, Jennie Nash, describes, so perfectly, relationships between a mother and daughter, a husband and wife, and friends. Her descriptions of the insides of houses and of a beautiful, old CA coastal neighborhood are wonderful. I highly recommend this book.
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