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There's something alluring about the idea of living by the seaside, I always wonder what it would be like to be able to stroll to the beach whenever you feel like it. My only experience of doing so was, briefly, off-season Morecambe which wasn't, sadly, quite as halycon as the world the characters in this book are drawn to. The story here is set in Nantucket, an island off the New England coast, where days are a little more sunnier than in our Northern seaside towns, and real estate prices a little higher no doubt.
Jane Green has written a pretty perfect Summer read with this, her latest book. The story is set around Nan, a likeable eccentric in her twilight years. We meet her in the first pages of the book as she cycles her bike around the island, popping into an absent holiday house owner's swimming pool for a swim and generally enjoying life. Nan has an interesting past, as we will discover in the book, but owns Windermere, a rambling and crumbling house set in nine acres, and practically circled by developers keen to build on the land.
Nan has slightly fallen on hard times and decides to let out some rooms in her house for the Summer, and so the story unfolds. This isn't perhaps a very original premise for a story, it is an easy way of bringing different characters together to a new place, however Jane Green manages to create a set of likeable and believable personages. This is a real page turner which strikes just the right balance of interest and intrigue without being a taxing read.
We meet Michael, Nan's son, who is drawn back to the island after his personal life has taken a disasterous turn. There is Daniel, married to Bee, who is finding out that he isn't the person he thought he was and struggling with being a husband, whilst loving his two daughters, and Daff who has been left by her husband completes the band of lodgers. They are all overseen by Nan who has ways of quietly directing them in the way their lives are going but is also going to find her life much changed by the end of the book.
All the characters find themselves facing different challenges in this book, the decisions they have to made all being magically made somewhat easier by the effect of living in this house. Whether it be questions about their sexauality, worries about a mother-daughter relationship, or lack of a soul mate being at Windermere is the catalyst these characters need for their lives to move on.
I really enjoyed the story as I read this book. Some developments I could see coming, but this didn't detract from my but there my delectation. There were a few surprises along the way and I found plenty to provide me with just the right amount of escapism to keep me reading rather too late into the night.
If you have read any other Jane Green books, of which I have read about another 7, you will know that you are not going to find high fluting literature here, but this is a worthy addition to her bibliography. If you enjoyed some of her other titles like "Spellbound" or "Life Swap", you will find more of the same quite satisfying light read here. The characters are likeable, believable and everything turns out the way you would like it to, just as you feel the author has planned it from the start. If I had one criticism it would be that Nan is a little too perfect to be true, however I was happy to go along with this and it didn't effect my enjoyment.
I highly recommend this book as a light holiday or Summer read. I bought it as part of a 2 for £7 Sainsbury's offer, but it is also on Amazon currently for £3.86, details below.