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The Beach Holiday by Anita Hughes

In amongst all the Olympic-watching I have managed to sneak in a little reading here and there.  As, technically, I am on holiday at the moment I chose this 'topical' debut from Anita Hughes.  The Beach Holiday is an unusual read for me, I don't read many books that fall into the chick-lit category.  But I was in the mood for something light and fun, that I could read on the way to Olympic venues and in the odd moments between the events.

The story, in a nutshell, is this: Amanda's privileged Californian upbringing is shattered once when her father is diagnosed with cancer.  She puts her fashion college plans on hold to stay near him during his illness and final days.  As she emerges from grieving for him she meets Andre, a sexy French chef.  After a whirlwind courtship they marry, and shortly after they have a son, Max.  Ten years later, her life is shattered for the second time when Amanda walks in on her husband in flagrante with his sous-chef.  Time for Amanda to rethink her life.

The book focuses on Amanda's long summer as she tries to figure out what to do with her life.  She is adamant that Andre is out, quite right too in my opinion.  But, can she face living in the small town of Ross as a divorced single mother, with Andre and his restaurant all too close by?  Ross isn't the most welcoming of places to less than perfect families apparently.  To help her clear her head, and heal a little, Amanda's mother takes her and Max to stay at the St Regis on Monarch Beach for the summer.  Money may not be able to buy happiness but it can certainly buy an idyllic, carefree existence in a luxury hotel.  Whilst Amanda feels sorry for herself, I felt envious of her surroundings and lifestyle.  Still, wealth can't fix a broken heart.

Amanda meets a chap who seems kind and decent, and he wins her over.  She's contemplating a new relationship almost instantly, leaving me wondering if she'd left her common sense at home.  I don't blame her for responding to a bit of kindness but her impetuousness didn't serve her too well the first time round, so some caution wouldn't go amiss.  I sound like her mother actually.  Sensible woman.  Also like her mother, I was urging her to think about what she would find fulfilling in life, for herself rather than in a relationship.  There is hope that Amanda will emerge as an independent woman.

So, this is a pleasantly light and entertaining read, perfect for holiday reading. Because Amanda's first love was fashion there are a lot of labels mentioned, but it's not too distracting.  I did like Amanda, and I admired her devotion to her dad and her son.  The Beach Holiday is an enjoyable book, and I rather liked my foray into chick-lit.  I might even read another.


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