Memorial Day officially kicks off the summer and with it, the mandatory expeditions in search of sun, sand, and surf. Along with the volleyball, swimming, sun-bathing, and picnicking the beach is, of course, all about taking time to read. And what better to read at the beach than something set at the beach? Or for those who don’t have the chance to visit the beach at all, take a literary journey instead.
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie (1941) Hercule Poirot was hoping for a quiet little holiday at a seaside resort on the Devon Coast. Of course things don’t go as planned. Poirot becomes entangled with the other vacationers including the young married couple the Redferns, the American tourists the Gardeners, famed designer Rosamund Darnley, former Army Major Barry, Emily Brewster spinster, the Reverand Lane, Sir Horace Blatt and the Marshalls consisting of Kenneth Marshall, beautiful flirty actress Arlena Marshall, and Arlena’s troubled teenage step-daughter Linda. When Arleana Marshall turns up murdered, Poirot has quite the list of suspects to sort through. Vintage Christie at her best.
Hawaii-A Novel by James Michener (1959) Published the same year Hawaii become the official 50th U.S. state. Michener writing in episodic format narrates a story beginning with the origins of the islands themselves, the original Hawaiians who sailed to Hawaii from Bora Bora, early Calvinist missionaries, merchants, and the Chinese and Japanese immigrants who came to seek their fortune. Each group left their mark helping shape Hawaii into the place we know today. Highly acclaimed for its historical accuracy and use of setting.
Jaws by Peter Benchley (1974) One night a Great White Shark attacks a young woman swimming in the ocean at the normally quiet resort of Amity…blah blah blah. But really you all know the rest of the story don’t you? You’ve all seen the movie. Why not read the runaway best-seller that started one of the biggest franchises of all time and made millions everywhere start looking out for the tell-tale fin?
Good Harbor by Anita Diament (2002) Good Harbor is a stretch of Cape Ann beach. Kathleen Levine local Gloucester librarian and mother of two men is suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 59. Joyce Tabachnik is a forty something freelance writer who’s grown increasingly distant from her husband and daughter. The two women form a friendship that helps them heal wounds from the past and move on to the future.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (2009) Set in the English seaside town of Lyme Regis, Chevalier tells the story of Mary Anning a working class young woman with a remarkable talent for finding fossils embedded within the cliffs. As she continues her work of fossil finding she forms an friendship with prickly, upper class spinster Elizabeth Philpot. Chevalier does first person narration from both women with unique and memorable voices as she outlines a friendship/partnership that truly was remarkable. And 19th Century Lyme is practically a character in its own right within the book.
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