Review: The Beach Hut
Oh but I’ve been a terrible blogger this month. Terrible. I’m not going to make any excuses because that would be totally pretending people actually give a shit, which you know, it’s just a blog and I’m pretty sure nobody does. I am however going to spend a quick few minutes right now talking at you about a book I read a couple of weeks ago that I totally should have already reviewed and haven’t because I’m terrible.
I don’t mean to be terrible, obvs. Sometimes you just need to switch off your brain and watch Pretty Little Liars and rewatch House and do a happy dance over all the Klaine in season 6 of Glee, you know? (always such a sucker for the pretty boys in love.) I’ve been all about the television in July. I blame Netflix really, it’s just too easy to watch episode after episode after episode. I wonder how many collective hours have been lost to binge-watching since Netflix became a thing? It’s a thing both terrible and fabulous.
I haven’t just laid in my bed watching American tv shows and stagnating though, I promise. There’s also been house-hunting (both terrifying and exciting) and weddings (beautiful, with books as favours, books as favours) and birthdays (always fun times) and all manner of other fun stuff. We hired out a beach hut for my Mum’s 60th the weekend before last which was all kinds of glorious and segues quite nicely into the whole actual point of this post.
Which is this rather excellent book that people really ought to be reading.
It’s called The Beach Hut (I know, and I didn’t even do that intentionally. SERENDIPITY) and it’s by the marvellous Cassandra Parkin who wrote The Summer We All Ran Away which I read and loved last year. First things first, you can get hold of a copy of The Beach Hut right now, and you should because it’s really really good. Really good.
S’about a brother and sister, Finn and Ava, who build an (illegal?) beach hut on the Cornish coast, much to the chagrin of the landlord of the local pub, Donald. Finn and Ava have this backstory that makes your heart hurt, Donald’s a bit messed up –his wife has died and he’s really not at all sure how to handle his teenage daughter, and she in turn has stuff of her own going on – it’s a book about life I think, really and the whole thing is actually kind of beautiful.
In a similar way to The Summer We All Ran Away (again, grab a copy because holy smokes so good), The Beach Hut moves between the past and present pretty much chapter by chapter. I loved this with The Summer We All Ran Away and I love it again here. It’s quite a popular narrative device at the moment it seems, the split timeline. I am reading so many books that tell me what’s going on via then and now. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This is one of those times that it absolutely does. It also moves really seamlessly between the viewpoint of this character and that and lets be real here, all these different voices and all these different times and all these threads to all these stories. It could quite easily have been a shitstorm. It’s not though, it works, and it works really really well.
Also also, Cassandra Parkin has a knack for creating a cast of characters that you believe in and relate to and really freaking care about. I mean, it, the people in this book, I just love them so damn hard. Finn, I think, is the one I love the most, with his attitude and his all-encompassing love for his sister and his sense of adventure and his book of fairytales. I would like him to be my boyfriend. WHOOPS DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD? Also, Alicia: Cassandra Parkin is absolutely bang on with her portrayal of mixed up teenage girl who wants to be simultaneously child and adult and her relationship with her Dad is just so bittersweet – that’s a relationship that I understand so well, the fragile one between father and daughter as daughter moves beyond ‘little girl’ and into something else entirely. I am grateful every day for the fact that my Dad and I got through that time (relatively) unscathed. It’s not just that relationship that’s so on point here though you know? The Beach Hut is a clever exploration of relationships and of love: sibling, familial, romantic and it draws you in and holds you as the story slowly unravels and HOLY SMOKES does it unravel. There’s some stuff going on here that will grab you like an undercurrent and throw you sideways. In a good way, not in a seawater in your face feel like your drowning kind of way. Maybe that was a bad metaphor; it sounded better in my head. Anyway. What I am trying to say is that there’s a sense of immediacy to Parkin’s writing which I absolutely adore; I can not get enough of her words and you know, I totally love it when a book grabs me and holds me like that, makes me feel like I’m in another place. That’s what this book does.
Fun fact that I also really love: I read that the beach that this book centres around is based on Perranporth in Cornwall. Yep, that totally makes me do a happy dance. I love Perranporth. I’ve spent many a happy hour on that beach, drinking rose lemonade and reading and there used to be a restaurant just off the beach called The Tin Fin that did the best calamari I ever tasted. I don’t think it’s there now which is a shame. Anyway, I digress. This is a gorgeous book, I loved it and I really can’t wait to see what Cassandra does next.