Ballantine, May 12 2009, $25.00
In the 1980s, Mel, Sara, Annie and Lola met at Bedford University in Mount Clemmons, North Carolina. They became friends, but after graduating from the liberal arts school went their separate ways. Mel became a mystery novelist living in New York; Sara is a part-time Atlanta attorney; Annie has become a Nashville businesswoman; and Lola married rich. Each is forty-five years old and they are meeting for the first time in over two decades on Whale Head Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks at the exclusive Wild Dunes resort, owned by Lola's husband.
As they enter middle age, each of the women has pressing relationship issues that weigh heavily on them. Lola depends on drugs to cope with her manipulative spouse. Annie recognizes how terrific and caring her husband is and their kids are, but still obsesses over a tryst with a married professor at Mount Clemmons. Sara worries about her ailing son while detesting her marriage and envying Mel’s Manhattan lifestyle. Mel is a bit jealous of the others being still married as she has tried and failed twice yet also understands herself as the truism of her last novel “I'll Sleep When You're Dead” describes her husbands in her mind.
Although midlife crisis group encounters have been the theme of many novels including one by Cathy Holton (see REVENGE OF THE KUDZU DEBUTANTES), Mel with her Manhattan kick butt armor brings freshness to the mix. As the week passes, the four friends change from sipping tea to drinking tequila as they share their angst, guilt, and failures leading to a subtle strengthening bond. Fans will enjoy this engaging character study of middle age women in crisis who at the end of their BEACH TRIP learn they can do more than endure and survive, they can thrive.