Wendy Wax‘ Ten Beach Road introduced Madeline Singer, Avery Lawford and Nicole Grant in a book that became a popular summer read last year. Now, in Ocean Beach, the three women travel to Miami, with the addition of Madeline’s daughter Kyra, Kyra’s toddler son, and Avery’s mother, Deirdre. The women who remodeled a house, hoping to sell it, are now hoping a new renovation project will be picked up by a television network.
The women are all desperately in need of cash and work. They haven’t yet sold their beach house, and they’re hoping they can prove how good they are on the pilot for a TV show called Do Over. They agreed to renovate the house, without knowing what it looks like. What they discover is The Millicent, an Art Deco Streamline house that seriously needs work, everything from new electrical work and air conditioning to tile and woodwork. They also learn the network didn’t tell them Do Over has become a reality show with a cameraman and sound technician covering their every move. The best part of The Millicent is the owner, Max Golden, a widower in his nineties, who was once part of a successful comedy team with his beloved wife, Millie. But, Max has a secret, a promise he made to Millie when she was dying.
As the women sweat over their new project, they also deal with problems that arise in their own lives. Avery is not happy with Deirdre’s presence, the mother who deserted her when she was a child. Deirdre’s desperate to find a place in her angry daughter’s life. And, Avery, a gorgeous petite blond, is determined to prove her worth as an architect and project manager. Nicole is still struggling with the loss of her matchmaking business after her brother swindled and bankrupted all kinds of people. After twenty-six years of marriage and two children, Madeline’s husband can’t cope with his loss of job, and her role as the breadwinner. Kyra, who filmed the first project, is angry she has to work with the network’s film crew. At the same time, she finds herself drawn again to her son’s father, a superstar who wants to see his son, despite his marriage to a celebrity wife.
Wax’ story is an enjoyable one. The women wrestle with personal issues as they renovate The Millicent. It’s fascinating to read about the Art Deco house, and the restoration of it. Anyone who enjoys watching shows about houses and renovation will enjoy those aspects of the book. But, Ocean Beach is, most of all, a story of strong women and friendship.
Ten Beach Road was popular with reading groups, and I’m sure Ocean Beach will be as well. Wendy Wax’ cast of characters range from a twenty-four-year-old single mother to women in their forties and fifties, as well as a ninety-year-old man with a vivid memory of the past. Part of the appeal of this book is the various ages of the women, and the problems they deal with at those stages of their lives. All of the women cope with problems, and, of course, there’s Max’ secret. Wax’ characters are well-developed, likable, strong women who depend on each other for friendship and support. None of them depend on men to make their lives right for them. What female reader wouldn’t be inspired by this group of strong women?
Even if you didn’t read Ten Beach Road, it’s easy to pick up the stories of the women of Ocean Beach. It’s time to take your own imaginary trip to Miami’s South Beach, meet up with this likable group of women, and sit back as they find that friendship can get them through rough times, and even danger. Ocean Beach just might be this summer’s most enjoyable beach read.
Wendy Wax’ website is www.authorwendywax.com.
Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax. Berkley. 2012. ISBN 9780425245415 (paperback), 448p.