June 02, 2014 12:00 PM

THE VACATIONERS

by Emma Straub |

NOVEL

In this delicious, deceptively traditional domestic drama, novelist Straub (Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures) introduces us to the richly riveting Post family of Manhattan. As they embark on their two-week vacation to the island of Mallorca, each member is teetering on a personal precipice that threatens to bring the whole family down. Having recently been discovered dallying with an intern his daughter’s age, husband Jim has been fired as editor of a prestigious magazine – a reality he cannot accept and hasn’t shared with Bobby, his achingly needy, inappropriately married adult son. In the wake of Jim’s affair, after 35 years of what she believed to be a blissful union, wife Franny is waffling between wanting to forgive her beloved husband, wanting to punish him and contemplating divorce. Daughter Sylvia, on a mission to lose her virginity, attempts to recruit her handsome Spanish tutor for the job. Early in the idyll, Franny’s gay best friend, Charles, and his husband, Lawrence, get a transatlantic phone call from an adoption agency that might forever change their lives. The Vacationers offers all the delights of a fluffy, read-it-with-sunglasses-on-the-beach read, made substantial by the exceptional wit, insight, intelligence and talents of its author.

—REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

CATCHING AIR

by Sarah Pekkanen |

NOVEL

Families wound in invisible ways, and often the damage doesn’t surface until decades later. Catching Air, the story of two couples who leave their exhausting and competitive worlds behind to start over in upstate Vermont, exposes those scars. Brothers Rand and Peter couldn’t be more different: one free-spirited and filled with wanderlust; the other, steady and dependable. When Rand suggests the two couples open a B&B, all see it as a chance to start over. But an unplanned pregnancy and a mysterious woman complicate the mix. With snowstorms on the horizon and their first booking for a costly wedding, the four start to question their dreams. Pekkanen weaves a satisfying tale of the nuances of marriage and duty and how small kindnesses can reestablish the bonds of family after an estrangement.

—REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER

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