Cocoa Beach

Morrow. Jul. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9780062404985. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780062405005. F
During World War I, Virginia Fortescue escaped her New York City life by driving a Red Cross ambulance through combat zones in France. While picking up a new group of wounded soldiers, Virginia met the kindhearted and handsome Dr. Simon Fitzwilliam, and their bumpy relationship began. Only five years later, in 1922, Virginia, with her three-year-old daughter, Evelyn, arrives in Cocoa Beach, FL, to settle her estranged husband's estate and finds herself inspecting the shipping business and the ruins of a plantation home she's just inherited from him. Unconvinced that Simon had died in the fire that destroyed the house, Virginia sets out to investigate. With more exterior action than interior introspection, Williams's (A Certain Age) latest novel feels less engaged in emotional relationships and more focused on the impact of World War I and Prohibition. Given the multiple criss-crossing story lines, the neatly tied-up conclusion is especially impressive.
VERDICT The historical details will draw fans of PBS Masterpiece period dramas; it's also a great choice for readers wanting a book long enough to be taken on vacation but easy enough to read that it can be enjoyed in short bursts of concentration. [See Prepub Alert, 1/16/17.]

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