Monday, July 1, 2013

"Island Girls," by Nancy Thayer

It’s the summer! Time for summer reading, otherwise known as “beach reads.” By now I have a pretty good sense of how beachy I want my beach reads to be. They have to be light, undemanding, and full of stories of family, friends, leisure time, and romantic relationships. Groups gathered in summer vacation places, especially those on oceans or lakes -- in other words, literally beach reads -- are bonuses. But I want even my “summer reading” to be well written. Not necessarily "high" literature, but reasonably well written. I just read a novel that almost perfectly fulfills all these requirements. I have read several novels by Nancy Thayer over the years, ever since I read her second novel, “Three Women at the Water’s Edge,” soon after it was published in 1981. Thayer’s work is reliably enjoyable. The one I have just read is “Island Girls” (Ballantine, 2013), and it was great fun to read. A charming and successful man dies, and in his will states that his three daughters from three different marriages must live together in his Nantucket house for a whole summer before they can sell the house and share the profits. Because of various resentments about the several marriages and child custody arrangements, the sisters are not at all close, so there is some grumbling about this stipulation in the will. But they all move into the house, and gradually become closer. There is much about careers, families, and of course romances. All of this, of course, is in the beautiful, irresistible setting of Nantucket. What can I say but that the novel is great fun and very satisfying, a nearly perfect example of “summer reading” and a delicious “beach read.”

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