cover image Sandwich


Catherine Newman. Harper, $26.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-334516-4

Newman (We All Want Impossible Things) returns with a slight story about the pleasures of beach time and the trials of middle age. Rocky, an anxious and volatile writer in her 50s, spends a week at her family’s aging Cape Cod vacation cottage with her preternaturally patient and easygoing husband, Nick; their two grown children, Jamie and Willa; and her sweet parents. Much of the novel, which Rocky narrates, has a light, comic tone. She details the ingredients of elaborate picnic lunches, describes swims in a nearby pond and days at the beach, and kvetches about the impact of menopause, which afflicts her with sudden rages and the realization that “activities that may injure you include ping-pong, napping, and opening a tub of Greek yogurt.” This amiable tone contrasts sharply with Rocky’s horrifying memories about the loss of two pregnancies when Willa was a baby. As the week wears on, she feels increasingly compelled to reveal secrets from that period to her family. Although a sudden medical emergency and squabbles between Rocky and Nick add some suspense, the novel gets bogged down in cloying banter and anticlimactic revelations. Rocky may content herself with the discovery that “it’s just everything, all the time. EVERYTHING.” Readers, however, are likely to be less than satisfied. Agent: Jennifer Gates, Aevitas Creative Management. (June)