Review: The Vacationers


The Vacationers
The Vacationers
By Emma Straub
(Riverhead Hardcover, 9781594631573, May 2014,  304pp.)

The Short of It:

Vacations have the ability to restore within you, what’s been missing all along.

The Rest of It:

The Post family heads to the island of Mallorca for two weeks of much-needed bliss. Franny and Jim have been married for 35 years but after his recent indiscretion with a young woman in his office, Franny is convinced that the marriage is over but goes along with the vacation for the sake of her daughter Sylvia, who is heading to college in the fall and her son Bobby, who is meeting them there and bringing along his much older girlfriend whom no one likes. Along for the ride is Franny’s good friend Charles and his husband Lawrence, both of which are waiting anxiously for word on the adoption they applied for before arriving at the house. Toss in a sexy tutor for Sylvia and this rag-tag group of vacationers is complete.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of the characters in this novel, but the interactions between them felt very real to me. Tension runs high as Franny and Jim’s secret comes out. But what impressed me the most is how accurately this family is portrayed. It’s a vacation, on a beautiful island but all is not pretty and that’s typically how it is when you gather a bunch of strong personalities and put them under one roof. There’s bickering and a lot of politics when it comes to sharing meals and beds. Set against the backdrop of a beautiful island it all seems gritty and unpleasant but at the same time, impossible to ignore.

It’s not a page turner, in that you’ll find yourself anxiously flipping pages to see how it all turns out, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. Given the setting and title, I can see a lot of beach goers adding this one to their summer bag but it’s definitely for readers who enjoy a little dysfunction in their summer reading. I could smell the tanning oil while reading it but I also kind of needed a drink right after. It’s that kind of book.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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19 Responses

  1. I love that line about how you could smell the tanning oil while reading it!

    • Some writers put you right in the action and that is what this one did. I really felt as if I was on vacation too. Just not a very relaxing one ;)

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  2. Not quite sure this book is for me, but it sure sounds very atmospheric.

    • Atmospheric is a great way to describe it. I was sort of surprised that I ended up liking it as much as I did. It snuck up on me. 

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  3. I do love dysfunction in books! I’m looking forward to this one.

    • I don’t know what kind of reader I’d be without dysfunction. I sure like it. 

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  4. I like a little dose of dysfunction in my summer reading… adding to my list!!

    • Plus, the idea of renting a house in Spain… gahhh. I would so love that. 

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  5. The cover is pretty fabulous…

  6. Vacationers sounds like a novel with very real characters, which I would hope for in a novel like this.

    I can’t imagine my vacations ever being quite that drama-filled, to be honest. And for that, I’m grateful.

    • To be anything like this, you have to rent a house with extended family. Oh my word. I’ve done it. We rented some cabins by a lake and even though we had our own cabin, oh my gosh, I think I aged 5 years that week. Even though it wasn’t quite the same kind of drama that I found in this book, I had drama. Like bears following me in the woods, falling down a hill, domestic squabbles on the way there and back. Nothing I want to re-live anytime soon. 

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  7. sound like there is something keeping you interested in the book even if the characters are not necessarily likeable.

    • I am a little iffy when it comes to books about adultery but it was handled well here.

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  8. Yes, we both liked it! Amusing and emotionally intelligent beach reading!

  9. I’m actually looking forward to reading this one. I think it will be a quick read. I liked your review.

  10. Sounds fantastic! Hot messes make for great reading.

  11. You Disappear by Jungenson was set on the same island for a vacation. It too turned out to be a disaster:)

  12. Maybe a good book club choice?

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