Who among us hasn’t felt a desire to get away from it all – the stress of our everyday lives – and escape to a blissful haven, bringing a suitcase but leaving emotional baggage behind?
I know I have experienced a “Calgon, take me away …” moment or two in my life, particularly as a young mother during those vexing times when my children were cranky and we had one too many meltdowns.
And they lost it sometimes, too.
What I would give to just run away and be alone for a while, I would fantasize as I dried tears (mine). No kids, no husband, no responsibilities. Just me. Me time.
And then the fantasy would evaporate.
But more power to the two harried moms from Brooklyn in Brenda Bowen’s Enchanted August who do indeed take that ball and run with it.
The story begins when Lottie and Rose come upon this notice on the bulletin board at their kids’ preschool:
Little Lost Island, Maine.
Old pretty cottage to rent on a small Maine island.
Spring water, blueberries, sea glass.
It is a rainy morning and they have just dropped off their kids. Struggling with both rain gear and discontent, they pause to gaze at the notice in silence, each thinking the same thing. Oh, I couldn’t. Could I? Maybe?
Later that day Rose texts Lottie. “Do you think we could still go?” Lottie responds, “I think we can.”
Whatever element of guilt they might feel about leaving their families is overshadowed by the enticement of this getaway. It will be restorative, they reason, and by the end of the month they will feel reinvigorated, in much better condition to resume their real lives. They need two more renters to share the cost of the rental, and luckily they find Caroline and Beverly to sign on.
Four strangers, each leaving unresolved issues behind, set out for an adventure to an unfamiliar but alluring destination.
What I liked best about this book was the gorgeous description of Little Lost Island. Having never been to Maine, I could still feel the sea spray as I sat on the rocks. I smelled the salt air and felt the sun burning my shoulders. I inhaled the scent of the fragrant roses blooming in the garden.
The plot meanders languorously through daily discoveries of local nature and culture. The days are quiet and uneventful, and the biggest decision to be made is what to have for dinner. Fresh blueberries are picked, lobsters are caught and cooked, salad greens from the garden are tossed. Pleasant enough, but I was about to doze off. I yearned for some action to break through the idyllic spell.
And then, maybe two thirds of the way through, the plot thickens when a philandering husband sets the stage for an embarrassing confrontation, and the back stories of the characters begin to collide with one another.
Based on the book The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth Von Arnim (which was also a movie made in 1935 and again in 1992), Enchanted August is as light and refreshing as a vodka and tonic with a twist. If you are looking for a beach book this summer, this one fits the bill.
Book groups will be happy to know that Viking is providing this excellent book club kit to facilitate discussions.
I am delighted to be able to give away a copy of each book — Enchanted August and The Enchanted April — to two of my readers. Please leave a comment below and winners will be selected randomly.
I received a copy of Enchanted August and The Enchanted April from Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.