Fun, escapist holiday reading (3.5 stars)
Source- review copy (Goodreads Early Read)
Published by Orion, July 2014
Paperback edition is 400 pages
I can recall absolutely devouring some of Veronica Henry’s books last year, including the utterly fabulous The Beach Hut, which followed the lives of the inhabitants of a fictional Dorset town across one memorable summer. There were secrets, scandals and romance and it was a thoroughly engaging read, made all the better by the fact that I curled up in the back garden in a deckchair and ploughed my way through it on an unusually hot summer’s day! So, when I heard that a sequel was being released, I knew I MUST read it.
Oh, and look at that lovely cover too:
Gorgeous! Doesn’t it just suggest the best kind of holiday reading? There is something so traditional and nostalgic about a seaside beach hut, don’t you think? Not to mention: romantic. They look so cosy, twee and charming.
Anyways, though a sequel of sorts, happily The Beach Hut Next Door can be experienced as a standalone read with no problems whatsoever. The characters are different and the only similarity is the setting of the stunning sounding Everdene and the row of glorious sounding beach huts. I really, really want to go and stay in one of those myself now (In fact, Veronica Henry could be downright dangerous to my bank balance- after reading her brilliant Night On The Orient Express, I found myself on the internet perusing ticket prices for that very train journey!).
The novel offers a tantalising, almost voyeuristic glimpse of the people within the close-knit Everdene community- some long term residents and others staying there just for the summer. Some of our encounters with them provide a lot of depth as we get to know their circumstances- what is happening in their relationships or turmoil they have experienced in their lives, others are merely fleeting at just a couple of pages long, yet all are satisfying and beautifully concluded. The storylines are sometimes quirky or poignant yet all offer the ultimately satisfying happily ever after or at least the notion of it, though that’s not to say the plot is without substance as there are some slightly more serious themes woven into the characters back stories, too.
The book contains an interesting historical thread running all the way through that explores the life of Elodie and her own experiences of Everdene decades ago and now in the present. Whilst I found this to be enjoyable enough, I did feel that it detracted somewhat from the modern storylines, particularly as it didn’t especially focus on the beach huts very much. In that respect, I would have perhaps preferred to read more of the contemporary story threads and have further encounters with some of the characters within them as for me, these people remained the most interesting aspects of the story.
Though not quite as strong as its predecessor, I nonetheless found The Beach Hut Next Door to be an engaging, escapist read. I thoroughly appreciated its mix of interesting characters and the vivid coastal settings. This book is perfect holiday reading and is sure to be appreciated by fans of Milly Johnson or Sue Moorcroft.