Whether you are able to get away for a beach vacation this summer, or are stuck at home with no vacation days left, here are some novels that will take you away. The stories are engrossing and the settings are exotic. The first two take place during actual vacations, one on a trip to Spain, the other to Italy. The second two give us access to alluring worlds, the expatriate experience in Hong Kong and life on a vineyard in Napa Valley.
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Oftentimes, the best part of getting away is getting the opportunity to see your everyday life through a different lens. In The Vacationers, a New York-based family spends two weeks in Mallorca, Spain. They arrive with suitcases filled with their long-standing problems, insecurities and issues. As their vacation unfolds, their relationships, both with themselves and with each other, also shake out.
Siracusa by Delia Ephron
Just like the city in Italy in which this novel takes place, the characters in this novel and the situations they find themselves in are full of cracks that hide much darkness beneath their sun-drenched surface. In fact, there is so much suspense and so many shocking twists in this book that at times it feels a lot more like a mystery novel than a beach read. But it does take you on vacation and holds you tight for the ride, which is exactly what one needs in a summer read.
The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
In this novel, three American women living in Hong Kong are linked by a heart-stopping tragedy. While the story takes the reader through their grieving process, it provides a unique glimpse into expat life; how our identities are shaped by circumstances, events and age; and the experience of motherhood.
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
This book is about the truths that come to light when the pillars we think hold us up crumble. It's also about the unexpected beauty we sometimes find the rubble. The easiest, fastest read of these four suggested books, it perhaps fits best in the category of “beach read” with it’s love triangle, long-kept secrets and questions about identity.