One of the best things to do
during Canada's short summer is to spend lazy days at the beach, either playing in the sand or being in the water. These four books will inspire you to travel to the beach, whether to a family cottage on a lake or by a wave-crashing ocean.
Just Like Family
Author Kate Hilton must be one of those Torontonians who participate or participated as a child, in the weekly cottage commute, a Friday tradition where people pack up their vehicles and sit in traffic to escape the city and spend two days by the lake in cottage country.
At least Avery Graham, her main character in Just Like Family ($22.99, HarperCollins Canada) seems to understand the draw of the cottage including the memories of summers spent on the dock, cottage rules (you don't go on other people's docks other than to rest while continuing on your swim) and traditions including the May dip where toes go numb, and lips go blue as soon as you enter the water.
Her secondary characters also appreciate cottage living, with Avery's mom suggesting some fresh air might cure what is affecting her daughter.
" 'Not city air,' my mother declared. 'Cottage air.' My mother believed that most psychological ills could be cured with a trip north for a dose of pine and lake water."
The cottage, and life at the lake, seems even more appealing after reading about the crazy life Avery leads as the chief of staff to Peter Haines, the mayor of Toronto and a lifelong friend.
A great read that inspires travel to the beach, and a perfect read on the beach.
Go Home Lake
Go Home Lake by Megs Beach ($19.95, Second Story Press) is another book that shows the commitment of cottagers, this time through the memories of Penny, the youngest of four children who spent all summer at Go Home Lake in the 1960s, catching frogs and getting her daily fill of fresh air.
“For a child, the cottage was heaven on earth. We didn't even miss the television. There was nowhere to be but exactly where we were so that one day flowed into the next, only vaguely divided by time to rest, time to eat, and time to set fire to things.”
Penny remembers the annual trek up to the cottage with boxes, suitcases and provisions packed into the station wagon, and how she and her brothers would take the boat and go on an adventure on the lake - exactly how a summer should be.
The Book of Summer
Taking place in both the present, where Cliff House will soon fall into the sea due to erosion, forcing out Bess and her mother Cissy, a notorious troublemaker from the once grand house, and the past, where we meet the original inhabitants, including Ruby, Bess' grandmother, on the eve the Second World War.
In the present, we learn why Cissy is fighting so hard to keep the property the ocean is ready to claim. Through the guest book, written by Cliff House's past visitors, we learn what life was like at that time, including disturbing views about Hilter,
The House of New Beginnings
The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond ($24.99, PGC Books, Pan MacMillan) is a story about three women who live near the Brighton seafront in a house called SeaView House (“SeaView House, my arse,” said Georgie, one of the women who moves into the old Regency house with her boyfriend.)
We learn about each of the women, and see the ocean from each of her perspective, including Rosa, who notices:
“It was a twenty-minute walk along the front of the hotel to her flat and there was a stiff breeze, whipping the sea into frothy white peaks, flapping at the striped awnings of the souvenier shops and sending the postcard racks spinning dizzily in a blur of colour."
I love the lake, but the ocean calls me to it, and this book inspires you to travel to Brighton, hang out with these women and celebrate living by the sea.
These books were provided by Raincoast Books, PGC Books, Second Story Press and HarperCollins for honest review. The opinions are my own.
Happy beach reading!