Monday, June 8, 2009
The Last Beach Bungalow by Jennie Nash
Part of me feels this book both tries too hard and yet doesn't deliver. I wanted to like this book but it didn't deliver as compelling a story as I imagined based on the blurb. It was highly readable. But I felt myself just wanting to finish. I wasn't savoring it the way I usually do with compelling fiction.
For me, something was missing in this story. I cared about the narrator, her husband and daughter but not enough. The family seemed so cliche. And while the narrator is a freelance writer, who shares with the reader the entirety of her inner dialogue, I didn't feel that connected to her. For me, the characters never really came alive. I get that the narrator was still coming to terms with her diagnosis of cancer five years before, and was herself discovering that she was going through the motions and not celebrating life. But I still found myself feeling detached from the developing story.
The most interesting part of the novel was the bereft widow who cannot imagine life without her beloved husband and is looking to find a meaningful way to sell the house she shared with him for many years. Their house is the the last beach bungalow on Redondo beach, and the only one that has not been torn down and replaced with a McMansion. To me this woman and her captivating house, is the heart of the story and I think the novel would have been infinitely more interesting if the story was told from her perspective.