Beach Read by Emily Henry
A romance writer who no longer believes in happily ever afters moves into her deceased father’s love shack, and runs into her college nemesis—the super genius of literary fiction. Both suffering from writer’s block and on deadline, they agree to swap places: January is going to write the Great American Novel, and Gus is going to write a romance novel. Can they do it? And will these two enemies succumb to their feelings?
What’s it like writing Hemingway circle-jerk fan fiction?
Holy batgiggles, this was hysterical and deeply moving at the same time. The banter between January and Gus was fan-fucking-tastic, and their chemistry was off the charts.
Grin and birth it. I suspected it’d be easier to deliver a fully formed human baby out of my uterus at the end of this summer than to write and sell a new book.
However, despite it being billed as a ~romance~, this was primarily a book about writer’s block, and as someone who needs to write a sequel um, fairly quickly and uh, has very few words on screen, lemme just say that I was here for this book.
The characters, the feelings, the emotions. The thrill of researching history, building new worlds and imagining new people who only exist in your mind is fascinating, enthralling, and far more enjoyable than actually sitting down to write the damn thing. You mean you can’t just reach into my mind to get the story? I have to write it for you? What?
At this point, it honestly might be easier for me to pack it on the upbeat women’s fiction and hop aboard the Bleak Literary Fiction train. At least it would give me an excuse to describe boobs in some horrifying new way. Like bulbous succulents of flesh and sinew.
This was an homage to writing, to writer’s block and the process, to marketing your story and getting out of your comfort zone, and to Michigan. I loved the tiny town this was set in, and how the locals and the out of towners interacted (or not).
I also liked how January and Gus processed their trauma. January had buried down some really traumatic experiences with optimism and partying, while Gus was a pessimist and filled with a cynical view of the world—both of which tied into their writing styles. And because January wrote upbeat, happily ever afters to go into the world and only ever received criticism from Gus, she felt that he was continuously bashing her genre of choice and saying it was Not Worthy. Since most men who read Literary Fiction (and many others) poo-poo women’s fiction, this isn’t an unreasonable assumption.
January also has to process her grief for her father—after her worldview of him was shattered. Her father had cheated on her mother with a long-term mistress, to the point where he bought a beach house near his home town and lied to them about it for years. It wasn’t until his sudden death (unexpected and tragic, particularly as her mother had survived two bouts of cancer) that this was revealed, and the rose-colored glasses January had worn throughout her life were stripped away. Plus heartbreak from a perfect romance that ended, being broke and everything else, and January was entering the book at her lowest low, with all of her coping tools invalidated by her father’s philandering. It was a heavy way to start the book.
Anywho, this is definitely worth the read, even if there was a line about how Gus tasted and it was just as horrific as anything (was it a joke? Was it serious? Was the editor asleep that day? Who knows) I could have imagined from a young adult novel (which are always weirdly obsessed with how the male love interest tastes and smells and it’s always something weird or musky or sandalwoody.
Come for the banter, stay for the insightful comments on writing and women’s fiction vs literary fiction.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Beach Read was released May 19th, 2020, from Berkley