Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: The Beach at Painter's Cove by Shelley Noble

There are about a million and one different reasons to be attracted to a book. There's the appeal of the cover. The jacket copy can pique your interest. Sometimes a favorite writer blurbs the book. You hear other readers whose opinions you trust recommending it. The topic resonates with you. You've read and enjoyed the author's other works. And on and on. But a reason we don't often discuss is something as superficial as the name of the character(s) being yours. Shelley Noble's newest novel, The Beach at Painter's Cove, has a gorgeous cover. It sounds wonderful. I've read her novels before and enjoyed them. The topic and themes, a dysfunctional family in danger of losing their long time home, art, and love, completely appeals. But the biggest reason I wanted to pick up this book? The characters are Whitakers. I'm a Whitaker. My sister and I were always the Whitaker girls growing up. So even before I cracked open the book, these women felt like family, not that our family is anything like the family in the book, but still... Shelley Noble even spelled Whitaker right. Of course I was going to read this!

Issy Whitaker is a museum exhibit designer who is very sought after. She loves her job, both the creative part and the adrenaline rush of the actual installations. When she was small, her famous actress mother, Jillian, dumped Issy and her older sister Vivienne at Muses by the Sea, the family's seaside mansion and an artist's retreat, with her grandmother Leo, grandfather Wes, and great aunt Fae. Since Issy left home for college, she hasn't been back to The Muses, not even for her grandfather's funeral but when she gets a phone call from her niece, twelve year old Stephanie, telling her that Vivienne has done the same thing their mother did, leaving Steph and younger siblings Amanda and Griffin at The Muses, that Leo has been admitted to the hospital, and eccentric great aunt Fae is no where to be found, Issy knows she cannot just abandon the children much as she wants to. Taking a leave from her job, she heads back to the place that she loves with more questions than answers and walks into a mess about which she had no inkling. As Issy tries to make sense of the situation, she is horrified to discover that the money that her grandfather entrusted to Vivienne's husband to maintain the art work filled house and extensive grounds has gone missing (along with both Vivienne and her husband) and if Issy doesn't come up with a plan quickly, her beloved Leo and Fae will lose everything. And while she's saving the estate, she needs to try and save the rest of the family and herself too.

Any time there are four generations of one family under a roof, there's bound to be conflict but the Whitakers manage to put the fun in dysfunctional. Leo lives in the past, staying as much as possible in her grand love story with the deceased Wes. Jillian, finding it hard to age in Hollywood, has never had much of a relationship with her daughters, especially Issy. Issy has become so laser focused on her career that she doesn't often (ever?) spare a thought for family. And Steph is still just a child but she could be one of the lost so very easily if someone doesn't keep the spark alive in her. The plot here is one that steams along at a good clip although there are some repetitions that could have been eliminated: the retelling of Leo and Wes's love story, Issy's identical grappling with how to save the house at several different points in the novel, and so on. Leo, as the matriarch of the family, didn't quite come together as fully rounded out but the rest of the primary characters made up for that. The secondary characters of Issy's friends Chloe and Ben were a delightful addition to even out some of the tenseness of the family interactions.  Great aunt Fae was airy fairy, just as her name implies and although she is an incredibly loyal person, she didn't quite fit with the rest of the family.  This is a family who has to learn to untangle their relationships and resentments, to stop pushing each other away, to overcome their lack of understanding, to develop empathy for each other and everyone's limitations, and to work together. In the beginning, the reader needs to persevere past characters who are so wrapped up in themselves that they don't want to do the right thing and that can be hard but it is worth it to see the change in the Whitakers, to appreciate the passion they discover in purpose, and to see them learn about each other and themselves. This is a fun beachy, summer read even if you don't happen to be a Whitaker girl yourself.

For more information about Shelley Noble and the book, check out her website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. Four generations under one roof is a handful, that's for sure! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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