Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes is one of those beach reads that barely scratches the surface about what divorce can do to a family, especially when one spouse cheats on the other and more than once.  To Amanda Blick’s credit she doesn’t go postal and take out her husband’s (Andre) French fondue restaurant in Ross, an exclusive, elite neighborhood, and she doesn’t have a nervous breakdown.  Rather, Blick takers their son, Max, out of the San Francisco area to St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort with her mother, Grace, who promises to quit smoking if they come stay with her for the summer in the Presidential Suite.

Pretty posh lifestyle, but nothing less can be expected from the offspring of a society family, whose friends used to call her parents’ home The Palace.  The relationship between Andre and Amanda is rushed, but that’s to be expected as she meets him just after graduating undergrad following a family tragedy.  When Andre’s restaurant partnership sours, he doesn’t turn to his mother-in-law or his wife for help, but a busty former high school classmate of Amanda’s and her husband Glenn.

Clearly blinded by lust or love, Amanda rushes headlong into a marriage and finds contentment with being a mother and wife, as her dream of becoming a fashion designer fades into the rearview.  But her world crumbles around her when she finds the chef’s legs wrapped around her partially naked husband in the restaurant one afternoon.  She’s forced to make a decision or have a meltdown.

“I pulled into the parking lot at the post office, threw my purse under the seat, and started walking.  I was still in my yoga clothes, so I looked like any other mother going for a morning hike.  I left the parking lot and took long strides till I reached the lake, a walk that usually took me half an hour.  That Tuesday I made it in sixteen minutes.  I sat on a bench watching the ducks and took deep breaths.  It was a beautiful spring day.  The sun was warm, the sky a pale blue, and beds of purple and white daisies surrounded the lake.”  (Page 2)

Hughes creates a woman who copes with heartbreak in the only way she knows: she asks her mother’s advice.  Amanda waffles, she indulges, she cries, and she wallows over the summer, and by turns she’s at the beach, eating, or at the bar, but most of all she’s spending time with her son and her mother, the people she cares most about.  Many readers will envy her lifestyle and wonder what she has to complain about, but upon further reflection, readers will find that heartbreak can transcend classes.

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes is beach read that will take most readers’ minds off their troubles.  A satisfying peak into the life of the elite, even when heartbreak is the order of the day.  The ending is a bit open-ended, which could leave readers wondering if there is a sequel in the works.

About the Author:

ANITA HUGHES attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes has lived at The St. Regis Monarch Beach for six years, where she is at work on her next novel.  Please check out her Website. (Photo by Sheri Geoffreys)

This is my 54th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge 2012.


  1. I recently picked up this book – I am looking forward to reading it if only for the peek into life at the St. Regis!

  2. I guess they say “money can’t buy happiness” for a reason. I wouldn’t know, though, because I don’t have any. LOL Sounds like an interesting book. Maybe I’ll borrow your copy.

  3. A lot of times we find it hard to commiserate with someone’s pain when they’re filthy rich! I know that Silver Girl had a rich character and I hated the focus on all the $$ and name brand consumerism, but if it’s well-written then it would be a book that I could enjoy. From your review I think I might like it!

  4. Thanks for the review but I have very little sympathy for her!

  5. Thank you for this review. I have to say, the cover art is something—the monarch scarf beginning to unfold as if it’s a new wing. Beautiful.

  6. This sounds interesting :)! I just found your blog & will definitely be following it from now on! I recently started a new book blog if you want to take a look: http://heartisinthewriteplace.blogspot.com/
    Thanks again!

  7. This sounds appealing except for the open ended ending.

  8. I read this one as well and I agree with your statement that pain can transcend money, but when I look at how many women struggle with paying the bills, I admit that I didn’t feel quite as badly for her.

  9. This doesn’t quite sound like my kind of read, but I was struck by your observation “…readers will find that heartbreak can transcend classes.” That’s v true, and I know I for one often assume money eases heartbreaks and other painful life events. Sometimes, money makes it harder to deal with, perhaps, when one is used to everything going easily. Lovely review today.

    • I had seen a few reviews of this one that focused too heavily on the character’s “easy, rich” life…and I think that no matter what your bank account says, pain is still tough to get through.