An irresistible, deftly observed novel from the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Modern Lovers," about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family s two-week stay in Mallorca. Read more...
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An irresistible, deftly observed novel from the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Modern Lovers," about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family s two-week stay in Mallorca.
For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.
This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-02-24
- Reviewer: Staff
The Post family is going to Mallorca for two weeks of vacation, but for them clouds are forming over the sunlit destination: the tickets were already booked when it came to light that Jim, Post père, has recently committed transgressions grave enough to get him fired and infuriate Franny, his wife of 35 years. The couple’s youngest daughter, Sylvia, has just graduated from high school and her parents are anxious to have one last family holiday before she becomes an adult. Joining them are Sylvia’s older brother and his girlfriend, as well as Franny’s best friend Charles and his husband. Every couple, and indeed every individual, arrives with a mix of optimism and trepidation, along with a host of uncertainties that, by book’s end, are satisfyingly resolved. Straub (Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures) seems to have found her stride. The pacing is quick but satisfying and the characters themselves feel genuinely complex, interesting, and knowable. While the structure of the novel does feel somewhat unoriginal—it begins with the airport, ends with the plane home, and the chapters in between are days of the trip—Straub uses the simplicity of the organization to her advantage. A pleasant, readable journey. (May)
Family tensions ignite
Emma Straub’s delightful second novel, The Vacationers, is the best work yet from this Brooklyn-based writer, who previously penned the quirky short story collection Other People We Married and the historical novel Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures.
The Vacationers begins as the Post family is getting ready to leave their Upper West Side apartment for a two-week vacation on the island of Mallorca. Franny is a zaftig travel writer who treats food as a means of therapy; her husband, Jim, was just fired from his longtime job as a magazine editor after having an affair with an editorial assistant barely older than his daughter. Only mildly aware of her parents’ marital problems, Sylvia is focused on starting at Brown in the fall, far away from the brutality of high school bullies.
Joining the group is Sylvia’s older brother Bobby (a Miami real estate agent) and his personal trainer girlfriend, Carmen. Rounding out the bunch of vacationers is Franny’s best friend, Charles, and his husband, Lawrence, who are awaiting possible good news from an adoption agency.
But while Franny meant for the trip to celebrate her and Jim’s 35th anniversary along with Sylvia’s high school graduation, the vacation turns into something much heavier as tensions are inflamed, jealousies are ignited and, ultimately, those pesky family secrets are revealed.
Straub transports her readers to an idyllic paradise of cobblestone streets, olive-tree-strewn hillsides, stunning beaches and rich, foreign delicacies, even as she creates an all-too-real family drama. The Vacationers is as refreshing as a frozen strawberry daiquiri and full of crisply drawn characters you’ll feel you’ve come to know.