Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Vacationers; Emma Straub


The Vacationers; Emma Straub
Riverhead  and Penguin Audio– May 2014

With summer officially in gear this week, I thought, what better book to kick off my summer reading than with Emma Straub’s, The Vacationers. (I also felt I was way overdue for a fun read).

In this story the Post family of New York is heading out for a (2) week family vacation to the Spanish island of Mallorca, hoping to enjoy its white sandy beaches and picture perfect blue waters. Jim and Franny are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary and, their daughter Sylvia has graduated from high school. Also joining them is their older son, Bobby, and his unlikeable girlfriend Carmen. Also joining them is a longtime friend of Frannys – Charles and his husband Lawrence.  Sounds great right? Not so fast.

The vacation gets off to a rocky start with Jim, age 60, suddenly retired (early). He’s just confessed to Franny that he’s had a fling with an intern at the company where he worked.  But it’s not just Jim who has issues, each of the other characters has some drama going on in their lives as well. All of this ramps up the tension and pretty much eliminates the possibility of anything close to a peaceful, idyllic vacation.

Family dysfunction is running high in this novel. This was a fun read for me,  even though the characters did feel somewhat stereotypical. It made me thankful to be far beyond the whiny-teenager days as a parent. Funny at times, insightful in ways as well, the author creates a good balance of the highs and lows of family life. One final thought, after reading this story, you may just rethink how and with whom you spend your next vacation. 

The audio version is read by Kristen Sieh; she did a nice job.

3.5/5 (Edelweiss and Penguin audio)

12 comments:

  1. family & friend vacations are a funny thing - we have such high hopes for how they'll turn out only to find nothing is as expected. . .sounds like this one grasped that knowledge well

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  2. I'm a fan of family dysfunction as long as it's in a book!

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  3. Id settle for any type of vacation, regardless of who I'm stuck with.

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  4. I've just abandoned this one as the plot was too slow for me. I'm quite glad to see you're not raving about it. Doesn't sound as though I've missed out on an amazing ending!

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    1. I'm with you - I thought it was fairly blah. And the writing and characters weren't memorable enough to make up for the slow story. So many people raved about it, but I just couldn't get there.

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  5. I just started this last night to kick off my summer reading! Family dysfunction in an idyllic setting appeals to me... we'll see how it goes.

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  6. Dysfunction can sometimes be interesting!

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  7. I know how we all like to read vacation novels for the escape but in reality, vacations, especially with extended family and friends can be a bit tricky to pull-off. Here, I thought Straub did a beautiful job of giving us a realistic take on a family vacation.

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  8. This one is on my list...thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  9. The cover and the story look and shound good, but I don't know if I want to spend that much time with annoying characters!

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  10. I've been curious about this book. Thanks for your review. Not sure I would want to read it on vacation.

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  11. I am glad you ended up liking this one, Diane. I have been on the fence about it, but I think I will be reading it at some point.

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