Image of a beach house deck with chairs and items such as bathing suits and clothes drying on the side of the deck. Another beach house is in the background. Text says "SANDWICH A NOVEL BY CATHERINE NEWMAN AUTHOR OF We All Want Impossible Things." Cover blurb says: "'Sandwich is joy in book form. I laughed continuously, except for the parts that made me cry. Catherine Newman does a miraculous job reminding us of all the wonder there is to be found in life.'-Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Tom Lake"


SANDWICH rating: 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Don’t tug at my heartstrings, as a rule. It annoys me.

I don’t like three-hanky, or even two-hanky reads. One hanky might be okay if there is also humor.

SANDWICH by Catherine Newman (HarperCollins, June 18, 2024), is a dead-realistic novel about three generations of family vacationing at Cape Cod. It’s one-hanky, and also hilarious. The menopausal protagonist, Rocky, is in her “sandwich” years, caught between grown kids and aging parents. This book may be TMI for some readers with the intimate details of Rocky’s struggles in her body, but I could relate 100%.

Rocky’s family has always rented the same downscale beach house for a week in the summer, and even the kids hold it sacred, and resent the owners changing “their” furniture. One beauty of this book is the flashbacks, as Rocky remembers past vacations when the kids were little (sand, in and all over everything!), and some excruciating day trips when she came all alone.

When Rocky’s British mother and Jewish father turn up at the beach house, they have revelations of their own that throw Rocky into a tailspin. With everyone together and Rocky moving into a new phase of life, it’s time for Rocky to unburden herself of her own long-held secret.

There is love in these pages. I was reluctant for the novel to end. This is an ideal summer or fall choice for a book club that doesn’t shy away from the truth about body parts, marriage, parenthood, and aging parents. Betcha either Reese or Jenna have already picked SANDWICH for their Book Club, and we just don’t know it yet. Well deserved.

Reading in context:

The novel that SANDWICH most reminds me of is nearly 100 years old: THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C. Sherriff (original publication, 1931). The middle-class Stevens family always rents the same run-down boardinghouse at the beach in West Sussex, and the family vacation vibe is dead on. It’s thoughtful, well paced, and loving. When Scribner/Simon & Schuster released a 90th anniversary edition in 2021, NPR favorably reviewed it. It has also been republished by Persephone. Gone are the days when the middle class could get away for a fortnight (two weeks). A family of four could rent this Bognor Regis “beach hut” for in September for two weeks for around $3,400 if it were available. It isn’t.

Want some realness on children becoming young adults, senior parents, and how both leave your heart raw in middle age? Read the tender and glorious essay collections by Mary Laura Philpott, BOMB SHELTER: LOVE, TIME, AND OTHER EXPLOSIVES (Simon & Schuster, 2022) and I MISS YOU WHEN I BLINK (Simon & Schuster, 2019).

For the straight dope on menopause (I’ll take pills and patches, s’il vous plait), I recommend HOT AND BOTHERED: WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT MENOPAUSE by Jancee Dunn (Penguin Random House, 2023).

What I’m reading right now:


#Sandwich #CatherineNewman #vacation #family #TheFortnightInSeptember #RCSherriff #BookClub #Menopause #MaryLauraPhilpott #BombShelter #IMissYouWhenIBlink #HotAndBothered #JanceeDunn

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