SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR by Dorothea Benton Frank
Dorothea Benton Frank has written many summer novels. Some have entertained more than others but they have all been good reads. Her latest SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR is one of her best ever and is sure to be THE beach novel of the summer of 17. It has some of her best characters involved in a story that is about love, hate, joy and despair. It is amazingly readable and – new word here – unputdownable.
Her story concerns two couples who have condos at the beach that are close to each other. Adam and Eliza have twin sons while Carl and Eve have a single daughter. When they show up at the beach at the same time both couples are living idyllic lives. They are both successful in their businesses and their relationships. But there is a serpent in this Garden of Eden atmosphere ands that is the fact Adam and Eve were high school sweethearts and now seem unable to separate the past from the present.
As the years pass the lives of the two couples become more and more complicated, and the friendship between them hits highs and lows. The question arises as to whether the friendship and even the marriages can survive. This is where the basic writing skills of Frank come into play. The story is so complex that readers have no idea how it is all going to end, and don’t you love it when you are in that situation!
Eliza is the bright star of the story. She is such a warm-hearted, loving, skilled woman you hope someone like her could enter your life. She has the capacity to be the best wife, the best mother and the best friend you could ever know. These are pretty high standards but in Frank’s talented hands she is also a person who seems real. I don’t usually want there to be sequels but I would definitely be waiting in line to read further adventures of Eliza.
There are also strong supporting characters in this book and they are as clearly defined as the main ones. Frank leaves no stone unturned and no scene less than full. The book feels complete in every way. It isn’t too long; it isn’t too short. It is just right.
Summer books have to toe a sharp line. They have to include romance as well as a bit of humor. Dramatic moments are allowed if they are not too much of a downer. They have to be an easy read but some complications in plot are allowed. Dorothea Benton Frank does all this with SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR and does it with finesse.
I have been a Dottie Frank fan for many years, and I look forward each May or June for her latest offering. This new novel was worth the wait. I devoured it as soon as it arrived. As I said, it is unputdownable.
SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR is published by William Morrow. It contains 384 pages and sells for $27.99.
Jackie K Cooper