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The Vacationers: A Novel
by Emma Straub
Paperback : 320 pages
15 clubs reading this now
5 members have read this book
An irresistible, deftly observed novel ...
"Delicious . . . richly riveting . . . 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.”—People (four stars)
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.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2014: Here's the funny thing about family: there's no one you love more than your relatives, and yet they're also the people who push your buttons the most. Emma Straub has captured this dilemma in her pitch-perfect second novel The Vacationers. The Post family’s vacation to the Balearic island of Mallorca is one fraught with jealousy and quiet secrets. It's an anniversary for parents Franny and Jim, who are making amends for some rocky marital misgivings; their son Bobby and his much-maligned older girlfriend Carmen have a financial favor to ask; and high school-age daughter Sylvia has made it her mission to lose her virginity to her Spanish tutor. The novel is warm--not just for the sunny beaches that surround Mallorca, but for the compassion and humor that Straub imbues in her characters. The Vacationers is a summer read for sure, but you'd be hard pressed to find a smarter one. --Kevin Nguyen
Leaving always came as a surprise, no matter how long the dates had been looming on the calendar. Jim had packed his suitcase the night before, but now, moments before their scheduled departure, he was wavering. Had he packed enough books? He walked back and forth in front of the bookshelf in his office, pulling novels out by their spines and then sliding them back into place. Had he packed his running shoes? Had he packed his shaving cream? Elsewhere in the house, he could hear his wife and their daughter in similar last minute throes of panic, running up and down the stairs with one last item that had been forgotten in a heap by the door. ... view entire excerpt...
Discussion Questions1. Franny and Charles have been friends for a long time. How does their close relationship affect other people on vacation with them?
2. From the outset, the Posts aren’t too fond of Carmen. Do you think she is treated fairly or unfairly by her boyfriend’s family?
3. How does Bobby and Sylvia’s relationship as adult siblings evolve over the course of the novel?
4. At the start of The Vacationers, Jim and Franny’s relationship is on the rocks, and it later comes dangerously close to falling apart. Is it possible to rebuild trust once it’s been lost?
5. This is a story about what we try to conceal from others, even from those closest to us, sometimes even from ourselves—and what we choose to show them instead. Have you ever felt like you’ve had to put on a good face for others?
6. What was the last vacation that you went on, and who did you go with? Did it give you a different perspective on your day-to-day life at home?
7. Do you think Bobby handled his financial difficulties the right way? Should he have kept these problems to himself or come clean to his family sooner?
8. The infidelity in Charles and Lawrence’s relationship is dealt with in a way that markedly contrasts with the other instances in The Vacationers. Does infidelity always have to be a big deal in a relationship?
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