20 August 2010

Book Review: The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Jane Milton's beach hut, also known as 'The Shack' has been in her family for many generations, but when her husband dies and leaves her with huge debts, she knows she has no choice but to finally sell the hut and make a bit of money to live on. She's worried about the reaction of her 3 sons, but more about leaving the glorious beaches of Everdene for good after one summer party.

As summer descends on Everdere once more, the residents of the huts flock to the beach for a few days peace, but some end up with more than ever bargained for. For Roy, the man who has helped look after the beach huts since he was a little lad, he's extremely sad to hear that Jane might be leaving for good. Are a few beach goers going to get more than they bargained for this summer?

I've been a fan of Veronica Henry's work for a few years so when I was sent an early copy of her latest book, The Beach Hut, for review I was really thrilled because I knew it would be great .This book, however, is a little different to her traditional books I've read in the past. It seems almost like a short story collection as each of the chapters is pretty much a stand-alone story, yet they are woven together to create a fantastic tale of Everdene and its residents for a few weeks of the year. I actually sent the book to my mum before I read it myself as she's a huge fan and she told me it was brilliant, and typically for my mum, she wasn't wrong!

The book begins with Roy, the resident of Everdene who has been looking after the Beach Huts for many years and knows not only the huts, but the residents of them too. Roy's clearly got feelings for Jane, and I love how this  story develops as the book progresses, it's very touching and is such a sweet story. As we get to know Roy and Jane, and the tale of their childhood friendship, things become clearer and then the book moves on in another direction, following Jane in her current life juggling her finances, family and expectations. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter, and I knew then it'd be a book I wouldn't want to put down.

The book then begins to tell the stories of the owners and residents of the beach huts for each chapter. I think the chapter names were the name of the beach huts themselves which I think is a lovely touch, and certainly made it good to try and decipher which sort of people would have a beach hut with that name! I was sure that each story would be stand-alone and only linked by the fact each of the huts were on the same beach but it soon became clear that it was going to be slightly more than that, and that they were all going to  be more intrinsically linked than I had initially thought, and I couldn't wait to see how that was going to become the case.

Jane Milton and her family story was the one that kept running through the book due to the other stories of her children and their relationships too, and it was interesting how it kept coming back to them. I also really enjoyed the story of the young engaged couple Dan and Kirsty which was a very sweet read, and I love how Henry included a mother with a child with disabilities, and it showed a different side that we would usually see, from the mother's perspective and it was a quite gritty perspective compared to the rest of the book. However, I liked this inclusion in the story, especially when the other side of this particular story was shown from another resident's point of view.

The book was incredibly readable and I loved every page. Thanks to the individual chapters, it was quite easy to put the book down and pick it up again from where we left off, but to be honest, I didn't want to stop reading because I was so curious to see whose story was going to turn up next! I love how all the stories connected together, even in the smallest way that could have been mentioned in passing, but it made such a difference overall as it felt like everything was tied up by the end. Roy and Jane's story was by far my favourite, but I loved the whole book and cannot recommend it highly enough, in fact it may well be my read of the summer so far. Simply brilliant.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Just about to read this one looking forward to it :-)

  2. Right just finished this book last night and I wasn't impressed it was so confusing all the different characters and the chapters didn't really match up with the other characters till the end. Do you know If her other books are like this? Because I'm still willing to give her another try with another one of her books :-)