Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber

Random House Publishing/Ballantine, ISBN 9780399181252, July 2018

Annie Marlow, living in Los Angeles and working a s a physician's assistant, has plans with her cousin and some friends for Thanksgiving day. When her mother calls just a few days before wanting her to come home for Thanksgiving instead, Annie stands her ground, and refuses to change her plans at the last minute. For a variety of reasons, I am cheering her on at this point, but I also know that this is a precursor to major guilt.

Early on Thanksgiving morning, she is awakened by a phone call from her aunt. A mudslide has swept her parents' home, and entire neighborhood, into the river. Her parents, brother and sister-in-law, and toddler niece, are all dead.

She has to return to Washington to deal with awful aftermath, painfully drawn out because of the class action lawsuit that follows. Annie can't deal with that from Los Angeles, so she stays in Washington, struggling with guilt and depression as well as the legal complexities.

Finally, prodded by her cousin, Gabby, she gets away from Seattle, to the seaside town where her family rented a cottage every summer when she and her brother Mike were growing up. She manages, with some difficulty, to rent the same cottage, and lands a job at the local medical clinic.

Annie also meets Keaton, whom she met just once, the last summer her family vacationed there. Keaton is big, silent, and hard to get to know, yet they are drawn to each other.

Her landlady, Mellie Johnson, is even harder to get to know--a complete recluse, prickly, far more withdrawn than Keaton ever dreamed of being.

These three, plus Keaton's friend Preston, head of the local animal shelter, shouldn't be the start of a wonderful friendship, yet they are.

This is a very character-driven novel, and the characters, both the protagonists and the problem people in their lives, are complex and interesting. I was completely drawn in and needed to keep reading.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.