When I went on vacation, I intentionally packed books that I thought would be light, entertaining, and easy to breeze through. The four that I read during my trip ended up delivering on the first and third counts, but mostly fell a little short on the second. Don't get me wrong, they were all okay. There were things I liked about each of them, but I didn't really love any of them.
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones was the strangest book of the lot. Set in a Downton Abbey-like English manor, the novel centers around an eccentric family struggling to maintain a grip on the upper rung of the social ladder. As they gather to celebrate a birthday, their home is unexpectedly inundated by a group of lower class travelers seeking refuge from a nearby train accident. Theoretically this should have been a very mysterious novel, but the book's epigraph is so literal that it practically serves as a spoiler. I kept expecting some second twist, thinking that the author wouldn't give away the entire plot before page one. Although there were one or two surprising details, the novel ended pretty much as I had guessed and I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Last Chance Saloon, picked up for a buck at a library book sale (not this fantastic one), was the first book I've read by Marian Keyes, a well known British chick lit writer. It follows three lifelong friends who grew up in a small Irish town and are now living a British Jones-esque lifestyle in London. When a serious health crisis befalls one of them, the other two are prompted to step out of the ruts in their own lives. This was actually my favorite of the group, as it was entertaining with a surprising amount of serious heft to balance out the humor.
Summer Crossing is one of Truman Capote's earliest, unpublished novels. Apparently he worked on it one and off throughout his life, only to lose the manuscript when it was left behind in a box during a move. Later rediscovered and published in its unpolished form, it chronicles a questionable summer romance of a young Manhattan socialite. The whole mood of the book reminded me of Mad Men, The Rules of Civility, or The Best of Everything. It contains many passages of truly beautiful writing, along with an equal amount of unpolished passages and details, making it obvious that this was an early work of a great writer still finding his footing.
And finally, I ventured into Georgette Heyer territory for the first time with Bath Tangle, about--you guessed it--a romantic entanglement set in Regency Era Bath, England. I had heard so much about how reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen and I have to say, I'm not sure I would go that far. I think there are a least two or three other steps separating the two. Although the details of Heyer's characters and settings were fun, the novel lacked the wit and heart of an Austen novel. I may try something else of hers again in the future, but I'm even more likely to reread one of my favorite classics if I'm feeling in the mood for a Regency Era fix.