cover image Save What’s Left

Save What’s Left

Elizabeth Castellano. Anchor, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-46917-0

Castellano turns the beach-read genre on its head in her clever debut. Fifty-nine-year-old Kathleen moves from Kansas to the little seaside town of Whitbey, N.Y., after her husband, Tom, makes the surprising announcement that he wants a divorce. Expecting a “bucolic paradise” and “small-town charm,” Kathleen buys a waterfront oyster shack and drives across country, but instead of beachfront bliss, she finds a two-room shed with a leaking roof and a rotting bulkhead, next door to a McMansion-in-progress, a monstrosity the locals call the Sugar Cube. Soon she finds herself engaged in an impassioned, one-sided correspondence with the town supervisor, detailing her grievances regarding the massive construction project. She also inadvertently takes a side in a local turf war regarding the development of a vacant waterfront property. And rather than meeting a handsome stranger as she’d hoped, Kathleen is instead surprised when Tom shows up, having bailed on a cruise around the world and purchased an Airstream, which he parks in Kathleen’s driveway. The plot, which culminates in some big, late-breaking twists, is a bit lopsided, but Kathleen’s character and worldview are impeccably drawn, thanks to Castellano’s idiosyncratic and assured voice. This witty send-up is a winner. (June)