Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062390790
Trade paperback, $15.99, 374 pages
It's almost a shame that Dorothea Benton Frank's books always have such gorgeous covers because every year when I buy the newest one, I inevitably mar up the pretty covers with sunscreen. I guess she shares some of the blame, after all, her books are a summer right of passage. Summer has not officially arrived until I have the latest Dorothea Benton Frank book in my beach bag.
This summer's book is Same Beach, Next Year set in her beloved Lowcountry of South Carolina. Each year Adam and Eliza and their young twin boys Luke and Max spend a few weeks at a vacation condo not far from home. Adam is a hardworking successful construction business owner and Eliza is a fabulous cook, who yearns to write a cookbook.
One year, a new couple takes the condo next door and it turns out the woman is Eve, Adam's first love. Eve is married to Carl, a hardworking, successful pediatrician and they have a young daughter, Daphne, about the twins' age, and they are joined by with Eve's mother Cookie.
The two couples get along famously, and although Eliza has her antenna up a bit about Adam and Eve, the fact that Carl is extremely handsome and shamelessly flirts with her distracts her somewhat.
The four become fast friends, and along with Ted, Adam's father, and Ted's girlfriend Clarabeth, it's one big happy family as they meet every year for two weeks and swim together, golf together and eat together.
Cookie likes to stir trouble, and she is hyper-critical of her daughter, which literally drives Eve to drink. Time flies by and Eve turns to Adam when she fears that Carl has been cheating on her. That sets in motion an incident that threatens two marriages and their friendship.
One of the things I love best about Frank's book is that she makes her characters relatable. Eliza has two sons (so do I), her dog Rufus is her best friend (mine was Malcolm, my late beloved basset hound) and Eliza loves to cook, as do I (well, most of the time).
This book is written from the perspectives of both Eliza and Adam, and I found it intriguing how Frank got into Adam's mindset. I have to say, though, I found his behavior and rationalizations puzzling, although I think each character makes some head-shaking choices here.
Since Eliza is a cook, we get some wonderfully descriptive foodie scenes, from Eliza's trip to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store to Eliza's family Christmas breakfast (I could almost smell the cinnamon on the page) to the feast that Eliza has with her Greek family in Corfu.
Same Beach, Next Year is another Dorothea Benton Frank winner, it's got everything you want in a summer beach read- great characters, sassy dialogue, interesting family and friend dynamics and a road trip to Greece. Maybe I should try covering my book in plastic so the sunscreen doesn't ruin the beautiful cover.
You may recognize the book's title- an homage to the Alan Alda-Ellen Burstyn movie, Same Time, Next Year, which if you haven't seen, you should. The IMDB link is here. (It was a play first.)