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Same Beach, Next Year

Review

Same Beach, Next Year

“A typical Lowcountry winter goes like this. In the early morning, it’s cold and damp, the temperature ranging anywhere from low thirties to low fifties. If you’re near any kind of a body of water, and the chances of that are high, there might be an otherworldly rolling mist. You need a sweater, a windbreaker, and a neck scarf. By noon, the mist has burned away, evaporating back into the genie’s lamp.”

The shifts in temperature continue, the wavering weather of the seaside reflecting the changes and difficulties of relationships over time, as Adam and Eve (yes, really) and their spouses begin a yearly reunion in South Carolina. On the Isle of Palms, a barrier island of Charleston, the vivid beauty of the ocean and the beach help heat up the sultry swing of deep friendships and hidden romance between two couples.

"Without giving anything away, this is a book that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR might become your same book, every year."

A chance meeting on the Isle brings Adam and Eve back together again, former sweethearts who had lost touch but not the feelings they had for each other. Their spouses, Eliza and Carl, try desperately not to care about the feelings and flirtations that are exchanged between them. On the white sands of Wild Dunes, a condo complex at the end of the island, they discover and rediscover each other over 20-odd years. The pairs become closer, the former sweethearts and their spouses finding unexpected commonalities among all four of them. These deepening friendships inevitably lead to tragedy and heartbreak, as well as flights of joy and the sense that these family friends will serve as guides through the golden years of their lives once their nests are empty and inevitable change comes.

Dorothea Benton Frank has written lovingly about South Carolina and its gorgeous ocean vistas for years. Every characteristic of each of the protagonists feels as if they are grounded in the natural splendor in which they cavort as they experience these multifaceted and non-traditional interactions. Set during the summer vacations these families enjoy together, the reader can sense the feel of cake crumbs on a beach blanket, the wind over waves, the touch of the hand of someone with whom your relationship is changing over time. Frank leaves little left unsaid, not by the characters but by the way she gives her sassy prose to every detail that can help the reader find a relatable moment in every chapter.

The ideal beach read needs several things: romance, long-term relationships filled with drama, comic dialogue and set pieces, as well as clear, swimming language and a fresh sense of looking at problems that everyone has had, now and through the end of time. SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR meets all the requirements for a perfect addition to your favorite beach bag this year. As Adam, Eve, Carl and Eliza bring up their kids together, wrestle with shifting feelings among them, explore the wonders of youth and the indignities of age, readers feel as if they are visiting a favored spot on a favored island, rediscovering the important connections that these families have, the same kind we all have with longtime friends. (I particularly related to the families’ struggles with their kids as they walked intensely into the uncomfortable teen years.)

These four people, sucking in their guts to look more attractive, reawakening old feelings but finding new ways to communicate, sharing food and flora summer by summer, represent the best and worst of all of us. Without giving anything away, this is a book that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR might become your same book, every year.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on May 19, 2017

Same Beach, Next Year
by Dorothea Benton Frank

  • Publication Date: May 16, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062390783
  • ISBN-13: 9780062390783