From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Claire Cook: Life's A Beach

I didn't get to go on vacation this summer (or last summer), and it's been a while since I've been able to afford a beach vacation. I long for the days of lounging in the sun with a good book and combing the shores for sea glass. Reading Life's a Beach by Claire Cook seemed like the perfect way to fill the void.

By the bestselling author of Must Love Dogs, the story of two grown-up sisters who fight like cats and dogs--but call each other at least twice a day

When Must Love Dogs was published, the Chicago Tribune called it "pitch-perfect" and the Washington Post declared, "Readers will hope that Claire Cook will be telling breezy summer stories from the South Shore of Massachusetts for seasons to come." Luckily for her legions of fans, Cook returns with another sparkling romantic comedy that's reminiscent of Must Love Dogs in all the right ways, but very much its own animal--about a relationship-challenged single woman, her quirky-to-put-it-mildly extended family, and the summer the shark movie came to town.

Life's a bit of a beach these days for Ginger Walsh, who's single at forty-one and living back home in the family FROG (Finished Room Over Garage). She's hoping for a more fulfilling life as a sea glass artist, but instead is babysitting her sister's kids and sharing overnights with Noah, her sexy artist boyfriend with commitment issues and a dog Ginger's cat isn't too crazy about. Geri, her BlackBerry-obsessed sister, is also nearly over the deep end about her pending fiftieth birthday (and might just drag Ginger with her). Toss in a dumpster-picking father, a Kama Sutra T-shirt-wearing mother, a movie crew come to town with a very cute gaffer, an on-again-off-again glassblower boyfriend, plus a couple of Red Hat realtors, and hilarity ensues. The perfect summer read, Life's a Beach is a warm, witty, and wise look at what it takes to move forward at any stage in life.

Ginger is a free spirit, but she's starting to feel restless. She doesn't have a fulfilling job. She's single and childless. She lives with her family. She takes care of her sister's kids. Some may say she can't commit, but Ginger simply doesn't want to settle.

Geri, her almost-fifty, workaholic sister, plays by the rules. She has a steady job, a house, and a family.

They're different and don't always agree. Still, they're always there for each other.

Soon, a shark movie is filming in the area, and Ginger takes Geri's kids to the casting call. Ginger doesn't get discovered, but her nephew lands a role as an extra! This leads to a summer at the beach for Ginger (hired by Geri to be caretaker on the set) and her nephew--a break from her day-to-day life that she hopes will give her creative energy (her current venture is making sea glass jewelry) and help her decide what she wants from life.

Though things heat up--in the form of an on-the-set romance--Ginger finds she can't escape her life and continues to over-analyze everything.

An unexpected visit from Geri, coupled with disappointments and broken hearts, brings the sisters together and reminds them how much they really need each another.

Life's A Beach was the perfect beach read, even if I read it on the sofa in an air-conditioned house--light and fun, with a happy ending. I enjoyed the characters' journey of self-discovery. I laughed out loud more than once. I felt like I was at the beach hanging out with friends.

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