I'm a little early posting this, but my mind is already turning towards warm summer days and the need for a little escapism. Unfortunately today is cool and rainy, so no nice photo next to my flower pots. This is this year's pile of 'beach reads'. Last year I read a couple from this stack and I hope to read even more from this pile of books (or maybe some new find even). For me 'beach reads' mean something a little different than what you would normally expect. It's not likely I am going to get anywhere near a beach this summer (I had hoped I might squeeze in a little vacation, but my porch is in dire need of repair after such a hard and heavy winter, so I can already see my savings dwindling as I pay carpenters for some much needed work).
My beach reads aren't necessarily something you might read at the beach (though a lot of them would probably work nicely), but rather books where the beach features heavily as a setting. A beach, a coastline, the ocean, summer or not, maybe tropical, even a lighthouse might come into play. The book might be a straightforward novel or maybe a mystery or a thriller or even a classic as long as you get a strong sense of place.
For some time now I've wanted to live somewhere on one of the coasts (would sort of like to visit again sometime at least), and maybe that wish might someday come true, but in the interim books are the next best thing to being there. So I went to my shelves and started pulling out titles that might work. I don't expect to read all or even most of these, but it's nice to have a stack to choose from depending on my mood.
Return to Sullivan Island, Dorothea Benton Frank- Reviews appear to be rather iffy on this one, but when I saw "best enjoyed under a beach umbrella, well within sight of the ocean, to the background of the lapping tide" it sort of sold itself to me in one fell swoop.
Beachcombing, Maggie Dana - Katie Fforde called this "A wonderfully uplifting story about a woman on her way to fulfillment." The story moves between the Connecticut coast and London.
Coromandel Sea Change, Rumer Godden - I have wanted to read more Rumer Godden every since I fell in love with her Greengage Summer. This is set on the Coromandel Coast--not sure of the period but the book is compared to E.M. Forster for its social comedy.
Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier - I've heard so many good things about this from lots of people. A novel of fossil hunting among the cliffs by two Victorian women.
The Beach Street Knitting and Yarn Club, Gil McNeil- I like the sound of this one--about a woman making a fresh start--moving from London to a sleepy seaside town where she takes over her grandmother's wool shop. It sounds like a nice read with a happy ending, and everyone needs those once and a while.
Beaches, Iris Rainer Dart- I saw the movie adaptation of this years ago, and remember sobbing at the end. I have a feeling the book will have the same effect, but I still want to read it. It's set in the 1950s and charts the friendship of two very different girls as they group up.
The Summer Book, Tove Jansson - I really want to read this one this summer. The book is a series of vignettes by a Finnish author who was born into the country's Swedish-speaking minority. A grandmother and granddaughter explore the coastline yet it's more than just a book of pretty views, as they discuss "life, death, the nature of God and love." Sounds lovely.
High Tide at Noon, Elisabeth Ogilvie - Ogilvie wrote a whole series of books set on Bennett's Island, Maine. The Novels, written in the 1940s, evoke the author's own experiences on the small island where she spent her summers growing up.
Beach Music, Pat Conroy - This novel covers a lot of ground, from Rome to the American South and spans several generations.
Sullivan's Island, Dorothea Benton Frank - The setting is a beachfront house in South Carolina's Lowcountry.
The Ladies Lending Library, Janice Kulyk Keefer - "A portrait of women caught between countries, cultures, and aspirations--a bittersweet tale, set in the 1960s, of mothers, daughters, friends and lovers during one unforgettable summer." The setting is a riverfront community.
Castle Ugly, Mary Ellin Barrett - "Against the glamorous backdrop of Long Island's summer luxury set, where the rich and careless play out their strange private games of love and destruction, Mary Ellin Barrett has spun a hypnotic tale of passion, intrigue, and murder that will hold you spellbound from first page to last."
Ross Poldark, Winston Graham - This is set in 18th century Cornwall, the first book of a series that has been recommended to me. I'm not sure how much the coast features in this one, but Cornwall is always appealing to me.
I've made lots of lists like this before: here, here, here, and here (yes, this really is a favorite subject/setting), but I am always on the look out for new books that would fit this category, and you know I am always happy to take more suggestions. If you can think of any other 'not to be missed' books with seaside settings, do please share. I've already started a book set in a lighthouse, which I will write about soon.