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The Vacationers (2014)

by Emma Straub

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1,19510112,502 (3.21)27
Celebrating their thirty-fifth anniversary and their daughter's high-school graduation during a two-week vacation in Mallorca, Franny and Jim Post confront old secrets, hurts, and rivalries that reveal sides of themselves they try to conceal.
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Do books get written to be read on vacations? Possibly. If they are well written, they may even help reduce stress and such and provide hours in a parallel universe, just that much different to make it look more interesting or less challenging. ( )
  flydodofly | Sep 20, 2021 |
fiction (human comedy of errors). Members of a family friends group vacation in Mallorca. I stopped around page 88--the writing was ok but I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters. Somewhat droll but also somewhat dull. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
The Vacationers is a great book for the end-of-summer. The characters are all relatable, especially Franny. I felt like I was on vacation in Mallorca along with the quirky Post clan. ( )
  mbellucci | Apr 10, 2021 |
This is the second Emma Straub novel I've read after finding All Adults Here a pleasant read. That one reminded me of Anne Tyler, her ability to catch the idiosyncratic family dynamics. This one ,written in 2014, tells the story of the vacation taken by Post family, Jim and Franny celebrating 35 years of marriage and their youngest daughter Sylvia about to go to Brown. Their older son,Bobby, is joining them with his girlfriend Carmen to spend two weeks in a beautiful air bnb on the Greek island of Mallorca. They will also be joined by Franny's oldest friend, Charles and his husband Lawrence. The twist to this seemingly perfect getaway is that Jim has just been fired from his job at the magazine for having an affair with a 23 year old. The trip was already booked, only Sylvia has overheard some of the yelling at home, so the unfolding of the novel will also be the determination of a marriage. There are other subplots : Bobby's older girlfriend/personal trainer has trouble fitting in, Sylvia about to enter college a virgin wants to remedy that, and the gay couple may be getting selected for the adoption of a baby. As I summarize this I am reminded how quick the read was because you do get interested in the characters and admire the observational details of the author. The writing is cleverly broken down into each day, one through 14, so it feels like you are on the vacation with them as the point of view spirals trough all of the 7 characters. I liked All Adults Here better but this too was a pleasant read by an author I will continue to explore.
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He was always astonished at how slowly people moved at airports—it was like being held captive in a shopping mall, all wide asses and deranged children.

Islands, being harder to get to, naturally separated some of the wheat from the chaff, which was the entire philosophy behind places like Nantucket, where children grew up feeling entitled to private beaches and loud pants.

Mallorca was a layer cake—the gnarled olive trees and spiky palms, the green-gray mountains, the chalky stone walls along either side of the road, the cloudless pale blue sky overhead.

when Jim and Franny would drag him along on their trips to Maine or New Orleans or wherever, staying in crumbling vacation houses with mismatched forks, Bobby made his disgust for the unclean known. He detested antique furniture and vintage clothing, anything that had had a previous life. It was why he liked Florida real estate so much, Jim thought—everything was always brand-new.

Yes, it was true that Franny had gotten thicker in the last decade, but that was what happened unless you were a high-functioning psychotic, and she had other things to think about. Franny knew plenty of women who had chosen to prioritize the eternal youth of their bodies, and they were all miserable creatures, their taut triceps unable to conceal their dissatisfaction with their empty stomachs and unfulfilling lives.

Feet first, that’s what they liked to say. Every time they repainted a ceiling or fixed the crumbling 1895 wires in the basement—feet first, that was the only way they were leaving the house.

It was the classic Euro look—shiny and well groomed to the point of New Jersey.

In the photo on the CD cover, Penya (she assumed) looked like a creepy hitchhiker, in the same way that Neil Young looks like a creepy hitchhiker.

Families were nothing more than hope cast out in a wide net, everyone wanting only the best.

No one in Florida did. Swimming was for the tourists, splashing around in a way that would never equal the calories in a single Cuban sandwich. ( )
  novelcommentary | Feb 27, 2021 |
This is the 3rd book that I have read by Straub in the last 4 months. She writes well about the today's family filled with gays, straights, old, young etc. In this book we have 7 people coming together in Mallorca for a 2 week summer vacation at a private home. Franny and Jim are a couple from Brooklyn who should be celebrating their 35 anniversary. Jim, however, had a major lapse and had an affair with a 23 year old intern at the magazine where he had worked for 30 years. Her Dad was a board member and the result was his firing. Franny is furious and is dealing with it. Their daughter Sylvia is an 18 year old ready for her 1st year at Brown. She deals with the usual stuff. Bobby is the eldest son at 28 living in Miami with is 40 year old personal trainer Carmen. Finally there is Franny's life long gay friend Charles who is there with his younger husband Lawrence. Straub throws them all together like a chef making a stew. She uses 3rd person narration with each of the characters combined with witty prose so that it is a good read. There are many plot points and interactions. The characters are not all likable and the ending was a little too simple. Straub is a solid writer who can make 300 pages pass very pleasantly. Having just read 3 of her books, I will take a break from her and wait for her next. ( )
1 vote nivramkoorb | Nov 20, 2020 |
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Celebrating their thirty-fifth anniversary and their daughter's high-school graduation during a two-week vacation in Mallorca, Franny and Jim Post confront old secrets, hurts, and rivalries that reveal sides of themselves they try to conceal.

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