Just one look at the sandy beach and azure sea on the front cover of The Beach Hut is all you need to make you start daydreaming about laughter-filled days at the beach and relaxing summer holidays in the sun. But, as author Veronica Henry points out, things don't always go to plan. She explains in the epilogue : "As I watched the inhabitants of a row of beach huts last summer, I wondered what really went on behind the gaily painted doors. We all know how quickly a holiday can turn to helll. The pressure to have fun during that precious week away is enormous. And being away from the daily routine, supposedly relaxing, soon becomes a chance to focus on what is really wrong in one's life. Irritating habits become a source of friction, the need for a drink creeps up earlier and earlier : playing happy families is not as easy as it seems."
And that, in a nutshell, explains the basic premise of The Beach Hut. Reading almost like a collection of short stories, each chapter focuses on a different beach hut dweller, delving into their past and revealing the trials and tribulations, as well as successes and heart-warming moments, of their present. I love the way the different characters pop up in other people's chapters as bit parts with a different representation depending on the narrator's viewpoint - the carefree teens taking part in a sandcastle competition, the middle-aged woman shopping in the village store, the drunken young lady snogging the groom-to-be on his stag night all seem totally insignificant and shallow until they feature in their own tales, revealing their complex personalities and life stories. And throughout them all, the beach huts look on, solid and non-judgemental, watching the stories play out and sometimes even playing a role within them.
This is the perfect poolside read, with enough frivolity to keep you smiling but a deeper, rawer edge to keep you hooked, revealing the fragile, damaged people hiding between the happy holidaymaker exteriors. It'll make you look at all those people lying on the sunloungers around you and wonder what is really going on in their lives !
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
- Paperback: 373 pages
- Publisher: Orion (22 July 2010)
- Language English
- ISBN-10: 1409119955
- ISBN-13: 978-1409119951
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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