Beach Trip by Cathy Holton

“Writing wasn’t about telling the truth at all; it was about rearranging truth, stretching it, and warping it to fit some safe and less-chaotic world of the writer’s own making. And Mel has been doing that, in one way or another, all her life.” (Page 215)

Cathy Holton’s Beach Trip is Southern women’s fiction with a twist. Mel, Annie, Sara, and Lola were college roommates and reunite in this novel two decades later. Like the heavy surf churned up by an offshore hurricane, their relationships are wrought with tension, love, jealousy, and forgiveness. Each chapter shifts between the past and the present–the mid-1980s to the early 2000s.

“‘Twenty years from now,’ Annie said, looking thin and melancholy. ‘I don’t want to be sitting around regretting the past. I don’t want to be sitting around thinking about what I should have done.’

Mel gave her a heavy look. ‘Twenty years from now, none of us will remember any of this.'” (Page 5)

Each woman embarks upon their own path and makes her way in the world. Sara, Annie, and Lola each marry and have children, while Mel marries and divorces a few men and concentrates on her career as a novelist. Mel is the independent, strong-willed feminist, while Sara is a follower and tough attorney fighting for the rights of children caught in the middle of parental divorce. Lola is laid back and pushed around by her husband, friends, and mother, and Annie is obsessive compulsive and striving for perfection. Each of these characters juxtaposes the other, and these characteristics weigh heavily on their relationships in college and beyond.

“‘I’m so glad you’re here,’ Sara said, smiling at Annie. ‘We need someone to keep us in line.’

Mel swung her arm around her head like she was twirling a lasso. ‘Crack that whip,’ she said.

‘Crack it yourself,’ Annie said. ‘I’m on vacation.'” (Page 25)

Holton creates deep characters with simple flaws, placing them in situations of their own making. Readers just have to sit back and watch how they make their way out. The secrets revealed by these women as they reflect on the past are sometimes cliche, but the end of this novel will leave many readers agape. Overall, Beach Trip examines the complicated relationships of women with a flare of wit, humor, and sarcasm.

If you missed Cathy Holton’s guest post, you should check it out.


You have until Aug. 28 to vote for Charlee in the Dog Days of Summer Photo Contest. Help a Hot Dog out!