Sunday, 8 June 2014

Book Review: The Vacationers by Emma Straub

The Vacationers

By Emma Straub
Published by Picador
Available in Paperback and Ebook

The Vacationers is one of those books that deceives you. The blurb on the back cover makes The Vacationers sound rather ordinary - an American family jetting off to Europe along with their emotional baggage... but this book is more than just an average summer beach read. This is an intelligent character driven novel.

The Post family are jetting away from their New York life and heading to Marjorca. Franny, Jim and their two children, Sylvia and Bobby are joined by Bobby's girlfriend, Carmen as well as Franny's best friend Charles and his husband, Lawrence. They are all confined together for two weeks in paradise. Will two weeks be enough for this struggling family to deal with with the fractures in their lives?

Straub successfully write realistic, flawed characters with spot-on observations of family life. All of the characters are trying to jet away from their problems and have come to a cross-roads in their lives. Jim is trying to escape the scandal of losing his editorial job at a men's magazine by sleeping with one of the assistants, Franny is running away from the fact that their nest will be empty once Sylvia heads to university and the fact that her husband has sleep with a younger woman. Bobby and Carmen must decide if they have a future together and all Sylvia wants to do is lose her virginity before heading to university. Charles and Lawrence must decide if they want to adopt a baby and become a family. Each one must face up to reality and make a choice of their future. Straub seamlessly shifts between each perspective so the reader can see the inner conflicts each character. At least they get to face with their problems in paradise in a fantastic villa on a remote island.

Straub makes sure the plot doesn't verge on the melodramatic by keeping the writing witty, charming and funny. The Vacationers may be full of betrayal, agony and disappointment but it is also full of hope, forgiveness and the support you can only get from family members.

Straub's smart and witty novel is absorbing and I couldn't put it down.

You can buy The Vacationers from your favourite bookshop.

The publisher kindly sent me a copy of The Vacationers.

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