But this is no formulaic novel: the characters and their dilemmas are entirely believable and their trials and tribulations explored with humour and warmth, and an admirable turn of phrase:
Waiting for a baby was like waiting for a heart attack – at a certain point, you had to just surrender and make other plans, not knowing if you’d have to cancel. (p134)
When he started talking, she held her finger between the pages, keeping her spot, but as he went on, she turned the book facedown onto her thighs. When Jim thought about the worst moment in his marriage, he thought about watching Franny turn her book over, the straight line of her mouth. (p186)
The various plotlines are wound together beautifully, with no detail redundant to the plot. My only criticism was in relation to Franny’s reluctance to drive the hire car because she’s unaccustomed to a “shift stick” seemingly forgotten when she volunteers to drive to the airport to pick up the rest of the party.
I enjoyed this novel and, because of its relatively happy ending and because it’s a page-turner without dumbing down, it might make for an ideal holiday read. Okay, perhaps not if you’ve booked a Majorcan villa slightly beyond your budget for friends and family or if, like me, are spooked by travel even of the most straightforward kind. After taking part in Charli’s travel horror challenge, I totally identified with Jim in these opening lines:
Leaving always came as a surprise, no matter how long dates had been looming on the calendar. Jim had packed a suitcase the night before, but now, moments before their scheduled departure, he was wavering. Had he packed enough books? (p1)
and my anxiety didn’t abate until we were into the second week of the holiday.
The Vacationers is published in paperback in the UK today by Picador from where I received my review copy.
Can you think of any other examples the holiday-villa novel? What kind of thing do you like to read when you go away?