Book review: Our Holiday by Louise Candlish

Friday, June 21, 2024 Permalink

There was something about Our Holiday by Louise Candlish that reminded me of the very popular (novel and tv series) Big Little Lies. Perhaps it was neighbourhood / school politics playing out similarly in a small coastal community popular with wealthy holiday-makers. There’s certainly a pervading simmering tension present – between parents and their children, couples and families as well as unrest between the locals and the ‘blow-ins’ who’ve snapped up all of the best land and houses and priced permanent residents out of the rental and home-buying market.

Book review: Our Holiday by Louise CandlishOur Holiday
by Louise Candlish
Published by HQ Fiction
on 19/06/2024
Source: Harlequin, Harper Collins
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 0008614636
Pages: 384

Charlotte and Perry have owned their clifftop holiday home in Pine Ridge for years. They’ve worked hard for it – why shouldn’t they enjoy it? Even if the locals can’t afford to live in the village these days…

Now city friends Amy and Linus have bought a second home nearby and when the two families descend, they plan lazy days at the beach and evenings sipping rosé and watching the sun set from Charlotte’s summerhouse veranda.

But this summer is different. A group of locals – headed by the charismatic Robbie – will stop at nothing to make the second home owners pay for their holiday. By the end of their break, marriages will be torn apart, friendships shattered and crimes exposed.

And one of them will have lost their life.

We’ve got a few narrators and a couple of timelines traversing the month of August. We’re introduced to locals, Robbie and Tate, the former heading up ‘NFJA’ (not-just-for-August), a community group protesting against second home owners who visit their properties during summer and leave them empty the rest of the year.

And then there are the holiday-makers, Charlotte and Perry who’s son is visiting from university with a girlfriend. And Amy and Linus whose older child, daughter Beattie is nearing completion of high-school and overtly seems rather perfect. She joins the other adults as one of our narrators though so we learn all is not well in her world. In fact, I probably would have liked Candlish to explore her behaviour (and its genesis) a bit more.

The visiting families are near neighbours at home and though the women are friends (perhaps with a smidge of Amy trying to emulate slightly-older Charlotte) the men are very different and start to wear on each other quickly.

There’s the overt friction front and centre between the locals and the blow-ins, but there’s also a simmering tension between Charlotte and now retired Perry who’s a former alcoholic and seemingly still on shaky ground with his wife and son AND who’s having an ill-thought-out affair; there’s chest-puffing rivalry between the two husbands; as well as Beattie seemingly keeping secrets from her mother.

We jump around a little in time, but quickly discover a summer house (gazebo type thing) has somehow fallen off the edge of a cliff into the ocean. Early in the novel we learn that Charlotte’s lovely older property comes with a summerhouse, however Amy’s having one erected at their rather dilapidated house which is in need of renovating. And although the mystery of the falling summerhouse is perplexing things get interesting once the police discover a body inside. Which (of course) is why Candlish continues to unfurl the story in the present and near past, as readers try to guess whose summerhouse crashed into the ocean and who might have been inside it.

Candlish paces this well with several plot thread ‘reveals’ coming at just the right time. She also wraps those threads up… interestingly. I pondered the conclusion later. Was it fortuitous, and is that fair? Did good win out over evil (or bad)? Did people get what they deserved? Or perhaps no one really won after all and there were just lessons to be learned about not unthinkingly tinkering with the hearts of others, or maybe a reminder to take the time to understand others’ predicaments – walking a mile in their shoes and so forth. I’d suggest this is a good bookclub read given the moral or ethical dilemmas on offer.

Our Holiday by Louise Candlish was published by HQ Fiction and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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