Book Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read – Emily Henry (Berkley Jove, 2020)

I received an Advance Readers’ Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Beach Read is a bit of a departure for me as I don’t read a lot of romance. However, I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of the novel set to be released May 19th and it appealed to me as a fun and light read in this rather dark moment in history.

January Andrews is a romance writer. She’s written several successful novels that showcase her views on life. Namely that happy endings are possible and true love exists. Now she’s facing a deadline on her next book but she has a serious case of writer’s block. It isn’t simply that she can’t come up with a story, it’s that her entire perspective has been thrown into question. Her father’s recent and sudden death has thrown January into intense grief while also shedding a new light on her parent’s marriage, a relationship January always thought was perfect.

January finds herself in rural Michigan, at a house her father owned that she never knew existed. She hopes to both face the truth of her father and complete her novel, and maybe finally read the letter that he left her. Her next door neighbour turns out to be her college rival, a very successful literary author, Augustus Elliot. Gus is – surprise, surprise – brooding and handsome. While he and January have some history together, they don’t hit it off as neighbours but are – surprise, surprise – thrown together in this small town full of quirky characters. Before long they make a writing pact: Gus will write a romance novel and January will write something dark and disturbing. They’ll take turns providing each other with “lessons” for their respective writing styles. You see where this is going, right?

The chemistry between the two main characters is good and fun to read. January is a bit of a mess but understandably so as her life is in major flux and she’s questioning many of the elements around which she’s built her life. Gus is a pretty typical brooding and dark with a heart of gold leading man. He’s not particularly interesting but also not easy enough for us to like. The story doesn’t spend a lot of time with the two of them as enemies, which I appreciated since I find that a boring trope.

What I liked most about the story and what made it stand out from others of its type was its exploration into books themselves. January is a commercially successful author whose books are numerous and popular. Gus has written two books but, because his content is darker, is seen as more “literary”. Does this mean he’s a better writer? Both Gus and January write based on their views of the world and as we learn more about each of them, we see how this affects their writing styles.

If you’re looking for a fun, bookish read, this is a light and engaging novel and I can definitely see it doing well with readers this spring and summer.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry”

  1. I was recommended the book Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie and though I’m not done yet, I absolutely love it. It has a similar premise as Beach Read, but actually… Beach Read doesn’t sound as interesting by comparison. Here’s the synopsis on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32471701-love-literary-style

    The thing I like about Love Literary Style so far is that it explores what IS fiction, how publishing works, and whether we value craft over readership.

    1. These do sound quite similar. In Beach Read, the whole literary vs genre topic is mainly an aside to the actual plot so Love Literary Style does sound more interesting. Both the authors in Beach Read are already successful writers and it kind of glosses over how unusual that is.

  2. Ooh, I’m glad you liked this one! I chose it from BOTM for April and have been looking forward to it for a bit of lighter, fun reading after the WP list. I haven’t gotten to it quite yet but it still sounds perfect for my mood, so hopefully soon! Great review. 🙂

    1. Its release definitely seems well-timed! A lot of people are looking for a fun and light read right now and this is definitely entertaining but also with just a bit of thoughtfulness to it.

  3. I can see why you’d reach for this book right now-we all deserve a bit of a lighter read now and then don’t we? Although it sounds predictable, I think I’d enjoy it, especially when it’s about authors! I love reading about them, it’s great fodder for fiction.

  4. Ah, I’m glad you liked this! I’m SOOO looking forward to it. I read a lot of romance, but the draw of this one for me is really the exploration of books themselves and the divide between literary and genre fiction. It being romance is a huge bonus. Seems like the perfect sort of read for this time.

    1. It’s definitely a good read for right now! I liked that angle too, the exploration of genre vs lit fiction, even if it was kind of secondary to the romance.

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