Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review of Beach Trip and a Guest Post by its Author Cathy Holton

Book: Beach Trip by Cathy Holton

Genre: Literary Fiction

Rating: A

For: TLC Book Tours

It was a little daunting to receive this book in the mail for the TLC Book Tour and see how big it was! I started it quite awhile ago to be sure I'd get done in time for my blog tour stop, but as it turned out, I didn't need that much time at all. I think I read the last half all in one sitting. I couldn't put it down!

This is the story of four college friends who get together twenty years later for.... you guessed it.... a beach trip. There's much alluding to the fact that "stuff" has happened between them which makes the success of this beach adventure iffy. The whole book then proceeds to flash back and forth between the current day when the beach trip takes place, and their college days in 1982. Also, there's many moments were each character thinks back even further to childhood incidents. In the process, the back story unfolds and we learn about their ups and downs, successes and failures and most importantly, the relationships they have with each other.

Because we see very intimately into the heads of each one at different times, this makes for a novel that is highly character driven. I'm learning more and more that this is my favorite type of book. I loved how we truly came to know Annie (a compulsive cleaner), Sara (a fairly typical mom-type), Mel (the single, more rebellious one) and Lola (the sweet and childlike rich lady). Each personality became very distinct and strong. So that's why, by the middle of the book, I was totally engrossed and needed to find out how things would end.

The end, by the way, is.... well.... never mind.... any adjective will give away too much!

The only thing I didn't enjoy about the book? All the drinking these ladies do! Sheesh, I guess not being a drinker, I just don't get it! I know it's possible to have fun without drinking until you're sick, right? Yes, I'm quite sure. But still, even all that activity added to their personalities and character.

So yes, I deem this a very worthy summer... one might even say... beach read!

And now I'm excited to introduce to you the author of this book, Cathy Holton. As part of this blog tour stop, I've asked her to do a little guest post and to tell us about her own personal beach trips and resulting friend connections.

I started going to the beach twenty-three years ago with a group of women I met through a Newcomers Club. We were all from somewhere else, our families had been transferred to Chattanooga with various companies, and so we set about making connections and friendships in this small suburban town where we now found ourselves stranded.

We were all in our twenties and most had given up careers to stay home, at least part time, to raise children. We started playgroups, babysitting coops, and learned to play bridge and tennis. It sounds pretty cushy now, and it was, except for the constant worry over finances and sick children and the threat of being transferred somewhere else.

One of the things we did for ourselves, however, was that once a year we would leave the kids with our husbands and go off to the beach. We’d leave on a Thursday night and drive seven hours and then sleep in the next morning, rising around ten or eleven. Most of the day was spent sitting around in our pajamas drinking coffee and talking (“What in the world do you women find to talk about for six hours?” my husband always asked.) Mid-afternoon we’d pull on our swimsuits, make up a batch of frozen margaritas, and head down to the beach. We ate when we wanted to, we slept when we wanted to, and we didn’t live by schedules. It was lovely.

One of the best things about the beach, besides the lack of schedules, was the way we opened up to each other. Initially, we were tentative, we kept our masks firmly in place, but by the second or third day the masks came off, and the revelations began. Childhood trauma, marital woes, hopes, dreams, aspirations; they all came tumbling out. It was better than years of psychotherapy and a whole lot cheaper.

Now our children are grown, we’ve reentered the work force or started our own businesses, and our annual beach trips have become bi-annual. But the qualities that made those old trips so wonderful still remain; friendship, shared life experiences, the ability to let go and be who you really are. T.S. Eliot said, “At the beach, time you enjoyed wasting, is not time wasted.”

He was right.

What a wonderful story and I love that quote at the end!

I also asked Cathy to share with us the five books most important or influential to her for my new feature Authors Pick Five. Here's her list:

The five most influential books in my life: Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, because it taught me to love reading; The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor, because it taught me what good writing is all about; Little Big Man by Thomas Berger because it taught me that good historical fiction is about more than describing how a cotton gin works; Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris because it taught me that truth rearranged by fiction can be really funny; and Giving Up the Ghost, a memoir by Hilary Mantel because it taught me that my inability to submit to authority figures and my insecurities are what made me a writer.

Thanks so much Cathy for your wonderful post and fabulous list of books! Oh, and for such a fun read in Beach Trip!

Cathy Holton's Website

Cathy Holton's Blog

List of other TLC Blog Tour Participants


  1. Glad you liked it, Suey! I enjoyed it, too. The drinking was not a favorite part of mine either, but I loved revisiting college days. :)

  2. Hi Suey! Great review! I'm glad you liked it too. I drink occasionally and definitely on vacation, but I agree you don't have to 'party til you puke' to have a good time. In fact, that would be the quickest way to ruin my good time!!

    Loved the guest post and esp. like the quote "Time you enjoyed wasting, is not time wasted." A good quote to remember this summer with the kids!!

    Thank so much for all the time & energy you put into reading and reviewing Beach Trip.

  3. Great review. I enjoyed this book as well, it really is the perfect beach read.



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