Tuesday 6 June 2017

The Gin Shack on the Beach by Catherine Miller

Published by HQ Digital on June 5, 2017

When I first heard about Catherine Miller’s new book, The Gin Shack on the Beach, I loved the sound of it. It’s altogether different from Catherine’s other books but there was something about it that drew me in and I am so glad I read it as this book is refreshingly feel-good entertainment with feisty characters, heartening friendships and laughs throughout. I loved this book from the opening paragraph and I read it in one go, eager to see more of the antics of Olive Turner and her friends.

At the beginning of the book we learn that Olive is giving up her home so she can move into retirement complex Oakley West, an idea thought up by her son Richard, of which she has a difficult relationship with. It’s evident Olive has past scars which have contributed to the difficult relationship with her son, and by the end of the first chapter I was both a big fan of Olive and hugely intrigued by her life and wanting to find out what makes Olive Olive, other than a big G&T of course!

Moving into Oakley West is one thing, but giving up her beach hut is something altogether different and Olive is not having it. The beach hut is her sanctuary and she can’t let anybody or anything get in the way of something that means so much.

I loved Olive’s character straight away. She’s very easy to warm to. She’s funny, kind, strong-willed and defiant. There was more feistiness in Olive’s character than you’d find in the most stubborn of teenagers and her attitude was one of the things I loved about her the most. She was more than capable of standing up for herself and her independence, and I laughed at some of the situations she found herself in as she tried to escape the retirement complex and return to her old ways.

I could understand why Olive would want to leave Oakley West, even if the Gin Shack Club didn’t exist. She has so much life left in her and is still very much switched on and a popular woman, so it made sense that she didn’t want to settle for a life of strict schedules and forced activities. Olive has no interest whatsoever in acting her age, and who could blame her. She is very easy to befriend and though she quickly gets along with the other residents of the retirement home, she misses her freedom. She craves that alone time she used to spend in her beach hut, she misses chatting to all her beach hut neighbours and she misses her once-nightly G&T, as she continues a tradition set by her and her late husband to find the perfect gin and tonic.

As Olive and her new friend Veronica sneak out of Oakley West one day, The Gin Shack Club is born and little do they know just how big the club is going to be. It seems everybody is just as eager to find the perfect G&T as they are, or at least it gives them a good excuse to drink another.

Sneaking out once is not enough for Olive and Veronica and a good part of this book sees them planning new ways to escape. I loved seeing their antics unfold, working out new ways to get out, getting into trouble (not just with Oakley West!), getting themselves out of trouble and making enemies with people just not as into the Gin Shack Club as everybody else is. This book is a whole lot of fun and as I was reading it, I found that I enjoyed it more because it’s not like anything I usually read. Of course the traits are still the same – a strong lead character, troubled pasts, plenty of friendship and frolics, but there was no need to categorise this and try and make a genre out of it. It was simply highly entertaining, and reading it was a great way to spend a day with a big smile on my face.

The Gin Shack on the Beach is truly laugh-out-loud funny and a whole heap of fun. It also shows the power and comfort of friendship and solidarity and how whatever your age, when you have your friends with you, you can be whoever you want to be. The Gin Shack Club is a genius idea and the way the author writes this book makes it very difficult to put down, as she combines the laughter from the Gin Shack along with Olive’s rebellion towards getting older and the tough relationship she has with her son. All I can say is, try not to read The Gin Shack on the Beach too quickly, as you will be dying for more once it ends!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, this looks like a goodie. Please bring this over to Books You Loved: June so everyone can see it. Cheers from Carole's Chatter


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