Friday, July 14, 2017

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062681690
Hardcover, $27.99, 384 pages

One of the great pleasures of reading Beatriz Williams' books is that if you are intrigued by a secondary character, frequently you will get more of them in a subsequent book. In a previous book, A Certain Age, set in the jazz age of New York City, Virginia Fortescue is the older sister of Sophie, who is a major character in the book. We learn a little bit about Virginia, enough to peak our interest.

In Cocoa Beach we get Virginia's story. During WWI, Virginia volunteered to work overseas in France, driving an ambulance to bring wounded men to get medical attention. She meets a handsome British doctor, Simon, and they quickly fall in love, even though Simon is married.

Simon has a difficult family situation, as does Virginia, perhaps that is one thing that attracts them to each other. They marry, but soon something tears them apart. They are separated for three years, and then Virginia is notified that Simon has died in a fire on his property in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Virginia goes to Cocoa Beach with her three year-old daughter and finds Simon's brother and sister waiting for her. She has her doubts about her husband's death, and is determined to get to the bottom of what Simon has been up to for these three years.

Williams' drops us into the humid, muggy atmosphere of south Florida, and you can almost smell the sea air, taste the sweet oranges, and feel the hot sand under your feet.

One thing I find interesting about many of Williams' female characters is their interest in cars. In Cocoa Beach, A Certain Age, and Tiny Little Thing, the women learn not only how to drive cars, but to repair and maintain them as well. This is most unusual for women of these times.

The writing in this story reminds me of watching a 1940's Barbara Stanwyck movie on Turner Classic Movies. The dialogue is rat-a-tat-tat, and the repartee is snappy. Cocoa Beach could have easily been a movie about the 1920's made in 1947.

 I also enjoyed the British slang in this book- "dosh" (money), "rotter" (a bad guy, a "player"), and "skint" (broke). Fair warning: I will be tossing these terms around in my everyday language.

You don't need to have read A Certain Age to enjoy Cocoa Beach, but you will have a deeper appreciation if you did. And I was happy to see Marshall, the Prohibition agent from A Certain Age, pop up here; I hope the end of this story leads us to see more of him in the next Beatriz Williams book.

Cocoa Beach is a terrific beach read, a book to get lost in while you are lounging on your porch with a glass of iced tea. (The cover is gorgeous too.)

Beatriz Williams website is here.

1 comment:

  1. I loved A Certain Age and am reading this now. I have to admit I'm having some trouble getting into it but I'm only on page 75 so, hopefully, that should change soon.