REVIEW: CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH (NOVELLA), BY WENDY WAX

81n35wwOJKL._SL1500_

 

 

Like a final curtain call, the women whose lives revolved around the renovation of the old villa at Ten Beach Road have gathered once again for a final event: Christmas at the Beach (Novella) (Ten Beach Road Novella). The house has sold, and they have been granted one final celebration at Bella Flora.

Narrated in Kyra’s voice, we watch from her perspective as the group assembles: Nicole, Maddie, Avery, and Deirdre. And, as always, the paparrazi are flocking them, spotlighting their final goodbye, even as they each recall all that went into the renovation.

But some surprises are awaiting them. Kyra is stunned to learn who the anonymous buyer is…and something else shocks her. Something that changes her life as she knew it.

They are all poised to learn where they will next appear for another renovation for their reality show, Do Over. And that journey will be revealed in the new book coming in the spring: The House on Mermaid Point.

TSS: COUNT-DOWN TO CHRISTMAS — NOV. 24

Welcome to our last Sunday Salon in November.

As we start our count-down to Christmas, we are also very much aware of the end of the year.  For bookish types, that means a number of things:  final books read count; challenges completed; thinking ahead to new challenges and new goals.

What are some of your Year End Activities and thoughts?

I’ve been noticing some bloggers who are hosting challenges for 2013, and while every year I promise not to sign up for too many, I couldn’t seem to curb the impulse to sign up for a couple already that sound good to me.

First, Cruisin’ Through the Cozies, hosted by Socrates Book Review Blogs.

Then I seemed compelled to add the Women’s Murder Club Challenge.  Hosted by Darlene’s Book Nook.

I have read a couple of those books already, but I’d like to read more.

On the Blogs:

TUESDAY POTPOURRI:  RAINY DAY READING & TEA

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ELIZABETH NELSON

PLEASURES GALORE:  BEADS & HO, HO, HO!

SWEET SATURDAY SAMPLE:  SECRETS

WEEKEND POTPOURRI:  BLACK FRIDAY, READING CHALLENGES, ETC.

And here’s a snapshot from my SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST.

Reading:  (Click Titles/Covers for Reviews)

1.  Firefly Summer, by Maeve Binchy (A 645 pager from my TBR Mountain)

2.  Amazing Grace, by Danielle Steel (Also from Mt. TBR)

3.  Slightly Cracked (e-book), by Susan Whitfield

And I’m currently reading For Keeps (e-book), by Aaron Paul Lazar.  There is a murder, a magical green marble, and secrets….

What are your Sunday plans?  Later I’m having a reunion lunch with colleagues I haven’t seen in awhile, in town for the holidays.  What a foodie week this has been!

SAGA OF LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, WAR, & SOCIAL CHANGE — A REVIEW

Sweeping across the decades, from 1941 to 1964, this saga of friendship, family, war, and social issues takes the reader along for the life-changing events that mark this period of time in history.

Told through the voices of three women whose lives were impacted, the reader comes to understand and know Babe, Millie, and Grace, as well as the men they marry. Some chapters revealed the home front with the women working and waiting for letters. Following the returns of some of the soldiers, and the non-returns of others, the visible absence of those who died becomes a monument to the ravages of war. While with others, the impact is visible most in what the war has wrought on the psyche.

Through the march of time, Babe and Millie’s lives change, while Grace seems frozen in time. The friendship between the three women does not lend itself to sharing thoughts and feelings. It is exemplified mostly by the facades that stay seemingly locked in place and the routines that characterize their social activities. Though as time passes and conventions yield to societal changes, a few cracks show up in the armor they wear.

Reading Next to Love: A Novel felt like a panorama of my own life and the experiences I lived, although from a different vantage point. These characters were adults during WWII, while I was an infant.

Near the end, this passage shows a conversation between Babe and her husband Claude, as they look at two of the grown children:

” `Were we ever that young?’ she asks.

” `Before the war.’

“The soreness in his voice takes her back.

After the war, they wrote and promised and prayed.  After the war we’ll do this or that or another thing. After the war we’ll be together. After the war we’ll be happy. After the war we’ll be safe. In all their dreaming of after the war, they never dreamed there is no after to war.”

These passages sum up the general feeling in this moving portrait of a world forever changed by wars. Five stars.

ACCIDENTAL FRIENDSHIPS — A REVIEW

From the very first pages of this book, I recognized and applauded the connections that were forming.

College marks the pivotal moments in a young woman’s life. The friendships developed there can inform all future connections. Yet sometimes the future holds no friendships that can match up in any significant way.

So reading about Celia, Bree, Sally, and April was fun, emotional, and memorable.

In alternating chapters, we read about each woman’s perspective, from the university days to young adulthood. The defining moments of their lives are shared with each other, while at other times, small conflicts separate them. But despite life’s dramatic events, the connections that formed during their university years will sustain them.

To me, the characters felt real and true to the experiences of their lives. Each young woman was clearly drawn. I could almost hear their individual voices.

In the end, an unexpected revelation felt underwhelming. I would have liked to see more of the consequences of this particular event, especially considering the slow build-up that suggested another kind of outcome.

Therefore, four stars for a novel:Commencement by Courtney Sullivan(hardcover)(2009).