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The Beach House: A Novel

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller and ultimate beach read from the author of Promises to Keep and Another Piece of My Heart  

Nan Powell is a free-spirited, sixty-five-year-old widow who's not above skinny-dipping in her neighbors' pools when they're away and who dearly loves her Nantucket home. But when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is dwindling, she realizes she must make drastic changes to save her beloved house. So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to...

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller and ultimate beach read from the author of Promises to Keep and Another Piece of My Heart  

Nan Powell is a free-spirited, sixty-five-year-old widow who's not above skinny-dipping in her neighbors' pools when they're away and who dearly loves her Nantucket home. But when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is dwindling, she realizes she must make drastic changes to save her beloved house. So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach.

Slowly people start moving in to the house, filling it with noise, laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family and friends expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside down. As she did so masterfully in her numerous New York Times bestselling novels, including Second Chance, Jane Green once again proves herself one of the preeminent writers of contemporary women's fiction.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Green gives you a clear sense of Nantucket's weathered splendor and offers up a refreshing summertime getaway...best read on a deck chair somewhere."
-Chicago Sun-Times

"A sweetly memorable summer story, capturing the relaxing, renewing quality of life at the shore. . ."
-New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Breezy...deeply appealing."
-Connecticut Post

"Green's best novel in years, a compelling, unputdownable read."
-Booklist

From the Publisher
"Green gives you a clear sense of Nantucket's weathered splendor and offers up a refreshing summertime getaway...best read on a deck chair somewhere."
-Chicago Sun-Times

"A sweetly memorable summer story, capturing the relaxing, renewing quality of life at the shore. . ."
-New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Breezy...deeply appealing."
-Connecticut Post

"Green's best novel in years, a compelling, unputdownable read."
-Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452295384
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 164,756
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Green

Jane Green was born and brought up in London. After abandoning a Fine Art degree and a stint in journalism, she went into public relations and worked for a time on This Morning. Jane then went back into the newspaper world and became a popular feature writer with the Daily Express, before going freelance and starting her first novel. A string of international bestsellers and marriage to an American later, Jane now lives in Connecticut – but flies home to London as often as four children and lots of animals allow.

Jane's hugely successful books include; Straight Talking, Jemima J., Mr Maybe, Bookends, Babyville, Spellbound, The Other Woman and Life Swap. Her latest novel is Second Chance.

Biography

British import Jane Green is a founding member of the genre known as "chick lit," a literary territory populated by funny, likable, underdog heroines who triumph over life's adversities and find true love in the end. If someone turned Green's life into a novel, she might emerge as a chick-lit heroine herself. She toiled for years in the trenches of entertainment journalism and public relations (two fields that sound far more glamorous than they are!) before moving up to become a popular feature writer for The Daily Express in London.

In 1996, Green took a leap in faith when she left the paper to freelance and work on a novel. Seven months later, she had a publishing deal for her first book, Straight Talking, the saga of a single career girl looking for (what else?) the right man. The novel was a hit in England, and Green was, as she admitted in a Barnes & Noble interview, an "overnight success." The success got even sweeter when her second novel, Jemima J, became an international bestseller. Cosmopolitan called this cheerful, updated Cinderella story "the kind of novel you'll gobble up in a single sitting."

Since then, Green has graduated to more complex, character-driven novels that explore the concerns of real women's lives, from marriage (The Other Woman) to motherhood (Babyville) to midlife crises (Second Chance) -- all served up with her trademark wit and warmth. Whether she has outgrown chick lit or the genre itself is growing up, one thing seems certain: The career of Jane Green is destined for a happy ending.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Green:

"My life is actually very boring. The life of a bestselling novelist sounds like it ought to be spectacularly glamorous and fun, but in fact I spend most of my time incognito, and in fact were you to pass me in the street you would think I was just another dowdy suburban mom."

"I'm still a failed artist at heart and never happier than when I'm sitting behind an easel, painting, which is something I rarely do these days, although I have a few of my paintings around the house, competing, naturally, with far greater works."

"I am completely addicted to gossip magazines that are, I have decided, my secret shame. I know everything there is to know about who's been wearing what and where, the only problem is I have an inability to retain it, so although I enjoy it whilst flicking through the pages, as soon as I close the magazine all the information is gone."

"I am a passionate gardener and happiest when outside planting, particularly with the children, who have their own vegetable gardens."

"My favorite way to unwind is with friends, at home, with lots of laughter and lots of delicious food. I'm a horrible baker -- everything collapses and tastes awful -- but a great cook, particularly comfort food: stews and casseroles."

"I have a deep and passionate love of America. It is where I have always thought I would be happiest, and although I miss England desperately, I find that my heart definitely has its home over here."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Mummy
    2. Hometown:
      Westport, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 31, 1968
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      "Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The bike crunches along the gravel path, weaving around the potholes that could present danger to someone who didn't know the road like the back of their hand.

The woman on the bike raises her head and looks at the ski, sniffs, smiles to herself. A foggy day in Nantucket, but she has lived here long enough to know this is merely a morning fog, and the bright early-June sunshine will burn it off by midday, leaving a beautiful afternoon.

Good. She is planning lunch on the deck today, is on her way into town via her neighbor's house, where she has spent the last hour or so cutting the large blue mophead hydrangeas and stuffing them into the basket on the front of the bike. She doesn't really know these neighbors — so strange to live in the same house you have lived in for forty-five years, a house in a town where once you knew everyone, until one day you wake up and realize you don't know people anymore — but she has guessed from the drawn blinds and absence of cars they are not yet here, and they will not miss a couple of dozen hydrangea heads.

The gate to their rear garden was open, and she had heard around town they had brought in some super-swanky garden designer. She had to look. And the pool had been open, the water was so blue, so inviting, it was practically begging her to strip off and jump in, which of course she did, her body still slim and strong, her legs tan and muscled from the daily hours on the bike.

She dried off naturally, walking naked around the garden, popping strawberries and peas into her mouth in the kitchen garden, admiring the roses that were just starting, and climbing back into her clothes with a contented sigh when she was quite dry.

These are the reasons Nan has come to have a reputation for being slightly eccentric. A reputation she is well aware of, and a reputation she welcomes, for it affords her freedom, allows her to do the things she really wants to do, the things other people don't dare, and because she is thought of as eccentric, exceptions are always made.

It is, she thinks wryly, one of the beautiful things about growing old, so necessary when there is so much else that is painful. At sixty-five she still feels thirty, and on occasion, twenty, but she has long ago left behind the insecurities she had at twenty and thirty, those niggling fears: that her beauty wasn't enough, not enough for the Powell family; that she had somehow managed to trick Everett Powell into marrying her; that once her looks started to fade, they would all realize she wasn't anyone, wasn't anything, and would then treat her as she had always expected when she first married into this illustrious family... as nothing.

Her looks had served her well. Continue to serve her well. She is tall, skinny and strong, her white hair is glossy and sleek, pulled back in a chignon, her cheekbones still high, her green eyes still twinkling with amusement under perfectly arched brows.

Nan's is a beauty that is rarely seen these days, a natural elegance and style that prevailed throughout the fifties, but as mostly disappeared today, although Nan doesn't see it, not anymore

Now when she looks in the mirror she sees the lines, her cheeks concave under her cheekbones, the skin so thin it sometimes seems that she can see her bones. She covers as many of the imperfections as she can with makeup, still feels that she cannot leave her house without full makeup, her trademark scarlet lipstick the first thing she puts on every morning, before her underwear even, before her bath.

But these days her makeup is sometimes patchy, her lipstick smudging over the lines in her lips, lines that they warned her about in the eighties, when her son tried to get her to stop smoking, holding up photographs in magazines of women with dead, leathery skin.

"I can't give up smoking," she would say, frowning. "I enjoy it too much, but I promise you, as soon as I stop enjoying it, I'll give it up."

The day is yet to come.

Thirty years younger and she would never have dared trespass, swim naked in an empty swimming pool without permission. Thirty years younger and she would have cared too much what people thought, wouldn't have cut flowers or carefully dug up a few strawberry plants that would certainly not be missed, to replant them in her own garden.

But thirty years younger and perhaps, if she had dared and had been caught, she would have got away with it. She would have apologized, would have invited the couple back for a drink, and the husband would have flirted with her, would have taken the pitcher of rum punch out of her hand and insisted on pouring it for her as she bent her head down to light her cigarette, looking up at him through those astonishing green eyes, flicking her blond hair ever so slightly and making him feel like the most important man in the room, hell, the only man in the room, the wife be damned.

Thirty years younger and the women might have ignored her, but not, as they do now, because they think she's the crazy woman in the big old house on the bluff, but because they were threatened, because they were terrified that she might actually have the power to take their men, ruin their lives. And they were right.

Not that she ever did.

Not back then.

Of course there have been a few affairs, but Nan was never out to steal a man from someone else, she just wanted some fun, and after Everett died, after years of being on her own, she came to realize that sometimes sex was, after all, just sex, and sometimes you just had to take it where you could find it.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 131 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(53)

4 Star

(42)

3 Star

(23)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 131 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun and Quick Read - inspiring

    I read this book in about a week, I was intrigued by the main character who resembled my mother-in-law and the concept of having to rent out rooms in one's house (what a great idea for a lonely widow). The story line was a bit outlandish at points with everything/everyone coming together-seemed a little orchestrated. I would say this is an easy read with an unusual story line that pays off in the end. The Characters are enjoyable but could've been more detailed if this book wasn't soo short and a quick read...I'm sure it wasn't meant to be an epic novel; however, it would become a nice movie. I enjoyed the reader's style of writing for this type of book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fun Read!

    Nan Powell is a bit of an eccentric 65 year old widow, who has lived alone for twenty years in her huge home in Nantucket. Rather than selling her home because of mounting debts, she decides to rent out some of the rooms for the summer. The book is about the people who come to live with her, each with his or her own baggage and secrets. In sorting out and trying to manage her new situation, Nan is reborn and discovers a part of herself that she thought she'd lost years ago. Then something unexpected happens, and she has to reinvent herself yet again. Fun read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A good Summery Read

    This is one of those stories that must be read in the summer (on the beach if you can swing it). It fits the season, its not too in depth, characters are intersting. The setting is by far the best part of the book, the island and the house draw you in. I liked the main character the best. Lots of different storylines going on at the beginning, but you can see how they all tie in at the end. No one is left hanging, the author does a good job of finishing each characters situation. Some surprises at the end, the romance connections between the characters are a little predictable, but overall its a good summer read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Have a cup of tea?

    This book was a lovely read. Perhaps it fits with the time of year? Perhaps it fit with my mood? Who knows? I can only say that I loved this book and have already leant it out to someone to read. The characters are searching without looking, seeking without realizing... and perhaps that theme speaks to me. From the main character, Nan, who has spent a lifetime in a home preserving memories of a life that turns out to be not what she expected... To a little lost 13 year old girl whose life is turned upside down by her parents divorce... All the characters touched my heart. I hope you will read and enjoy as much as I did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2009

    Great Light Read

    The beginning was a slow start, but once you get into its a great novel. The characters are heart-warming, and the twists in the plot gives the story an added depth. Overall this novel is a great story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    Enjoyable read.

    Very enjoyable reading. For me, slow to start, but picked up once characters were established. Plot line was interesting although somewhat fanciful. Enjoyed the characters, especially Nan and Del (who I could relate to). Overall a most enjoyable read and would recommend for bookclubs.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Beach by Jane Green

    I love Jane Green's books. I was glad I paid full price to read this book. I usually only trade but was tired of waiting for a trade. This story pulled me in and wrapped me up in the character lives. I thought I knew what would happen or guess the ending like most books but the ending was plesantly surprising and I loved it. Easy read and I highly recommend this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Best book by Green!

    I loved this book. It is my favorite book by Jane Green for sure. Shes an amazing writer and all of her books touch people in many different ways. The characters were fabulous, their problems were real and you felt like you really got to know them. People question their lives all the time, some change the things they cannot face anymore while others go on just pretending. Daniel did the right thing, as well as michael and Nan. Great book. I recommend it to all fans of chick lit!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a well written character study

    Sixty-five years old eccentric widow Nan owns THE BEACH HOUSE on Nantucket Island. Although she knows her neighbors would disapprove, needing money and not caring what anyone else thinks as she is a sexagenarian who buried her husband, the feisty Nan decides to rent rooms during the summer.------------- Her summer renters come to the island to think and escape. Separated from her husband Richard following his affair, Daff must decide what she wants beyond her two roles of mother to teen Jess and wife or perhaps ex wife. Therapist Dr. Posner helps, some might say hinders, Bee and Daniel to face the inconvenient truth that is destroying their relationship. As he faces middle age, Michael wonders if he will ever find the right woman for him as every female he meets turns out wrong.------------ THE BEACH HOUSE is a well written character study in which each of the visitors and Nan has issues to confront over the summer. Each of the cast members is fully developed and seems like a real person as they struggle with their respective issues. Although the resolution is too simplistic in such a short time, fans will enjoy the most wonderful summer.------------ Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Snowykit

    Really oh........ill be uglykit

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Firekit

    hello other kits this is a safe zone its charmed so no human may enter only kits

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Character Development

    I ma not a Jane Green fan but this book was a really good beach read. The characters are so different and all of their problems surface as they live in this bed and breakfast. Nan grows on you too. Worth the effort.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2008

    A Wonderful Approach to Life

    Jane Green¿s newest novel, The Beach House, is an exquisite blend of the harsh realities of life coupled with the rewards of finding yourself. Full of complex characters, each facing everyday situations like divorce, separation, parenting and discovering whom they really are. Jane Green tells the story of each persons struggle and eventual trip to Windermere, a huge costal home in Nantucket that breathes new life and friendship to an unlikely cast of characters. The owner of the property is Nan, the community eccentric, who has a real grasp on reality and clearly defines the emotions of those she comes across. Facing the truth of her own money troubles, Nan decides to rent out some of the rooms of her home to guest for the summer in order to keep the home she cherishes. She finds new tenants in Daniel, Daff, and her own son Michael who are going through their own personal struggles. She offers them not only the comfort of a home, but the wisdom that comes wish age and the inspiration of hope that they each lack in their own lives. The build up and foundation of The Beach House is sporadic and lengthy, but later on the in-depth character definitions only add to the complex and twisting plot. Filled with an array of emotions that mimics the real world every person will be touched and inspired with hope by the end. Jane Green is truly at the top of her game and continues to push out amazing novels like The Beach House. Valerie Jones

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2014

    Woman's soap beach read or snowed in. trifle too many

    Roomers tracking in sand. if a fast food would be a box of mac and cheese. A comfort read not cute enough for a cozy. M.a.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2014

    Great read

    I stated this book on a Saturday and could not stop reading. Finished on Monday. Had to find out what was going to happen. Loved it, will keep Jane Green on my list of go to authors.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2014

    Must read!

    I absolutely loved this book. It was a little hard to get into because it jumped around a lot between characters. But once I got going I found I couldn't put it down. I was so sad to see it end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2014

    Highly recommend

    A wonderful story about people who have personal struggles coming together at a bed
    And breakfast at Nantucket. Reading this book made me start wanting to read every book
    Jane Green has written!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2014

    Judy L

    I just could not get into this book. Had to start over three times to try to figure who these characters are. Finally gave up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Great read...

    Enjoyed it very much and have moved on to other books by the author.....fast read and some times thought provoking............

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  • Posted September 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Nan Powell is living her sixty-fifth year to the fullest in Nant

    Nan Powell is living her sixty-fifth year to the fullest in Nantucket. Due to her deceased husband’s debt, she has been living in the family’s vacation home, Windermere, for several decades and has become a staple in town. What little money she has managed to save has not been lost in an unstable hedge fund, so she decides to rent rooms in Windermere, not only to help with the finances, but to bring back some life into the old home. Daniel has just separated from his wife Bee and rents a room to be closer to his two girls over the summer. Daff is divorced from Richard and their thirteen year old daughter, Jess, has decided to move in with him, so Daff rents a room in hopes of rediscovering herself. Michael returns to his mother’s home after quitting his job and having an affair with his married boss. Windermere seems to still hold magic, as she helps her new tenants find peace, comfort and maybe even love.

    Though this book starts out to be about Nan and her home, it quickly changes into a story about several couples who are having trouble in their love lives. The Beach House jumps between each character’s points of view, which makes it confusing at first for readers. The book starts out slow, but then morphs into a more delicate tale about accepting one’s self, before one can find true love. The book has many predictable, soap opera like scenes and foreseeable plot twists, along with several grammar snags in phrases. However, as the second part of the book begins, it becomes a faster and easier read, with a happily ever after for all. Recommended for readers looking to take a step back in time with the picturesque scenery of Nantucket and a simpler way of life.

    Notes:
    This review was originally written for My Sister's Books.
    This review was originally posted on Ariesgrl Book Reviews.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 131 Customer Reviews

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