Beach Reads

beach book recommendations

A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean

By Melinda & Robert Blanchard

In this charming book, a simple trip to the beach turns into much more than a visit! It is the true story of Melinda and Robert Blanchard, who decide they want to trade their life in Vermont for warm sand and balmy breezes on a small, quiet Caribbean island.

Running a casual beach bar becomes their goal. But what seems like a simple plan to open a business on the island of Anguilla is wrought with countless hurdles totally unlike ones they would encounter on the mainland. As the Blanchards navigate their way through calamities that are at times downright exasperating, their perseverance and determination are enviable.

Once they get the ball rolling, their simple beach bar morphs into a high-end restaurant attracting the rich and famous. It boasts a gorgeous dining room that opens up onto lush gardens and trickling water, and you’ll easily imagine the scent of bougainvillea as you read.

What becomes clear during the story is that they would never have been able to achieved their dream were it not for the warmth and friendship of the islanders they met. Their personalities take center stage in this book and you will be completely charmed by all of them. There’s Bug, who sings as he washes the dishes and always makes everyone smile, and Ozzie and Clinton, who dance as they chop in the kitchen. There’s the story-telling taxi driver, Joshua, and Shabby, the expert snorkeler who supplies them with plenty of lobsters. You’ll meet Garrilin and Lowell who are loyal and invaluable to the restaurant, and many more interesting characters. This lovable group of people quickly became part of the Blanchard family and they work tirelessly, with a great amount of pride.

Along with all the hard work, there are moments of pure bliss as a few hours off means a picnic at a secluded beach or finding a hidden bluff with a killer view. But all the progress and bliss becomes seriously jeopardized when Hurricane Luis, a Category-4 storm, heads straight for the island. You will hang onto every word as Bob Blanchard experiences this devastating storm first hand. You will be swept away from the very beginning with this book, so make yourself comfortable and be prepared to hunker in.

At Blanchard’s Table: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook

By Melinda & Robert Blanchard

Can a cookbook be considered a good beach read? This one can! After reading their book A Trip To The Beach, grab this luscious cookbook and hunker in again. Filled with down-to-earth recipes, many with an island flair, the offerings will have your mouth watering.

As you sweep through the book, after each recipe, Melinda has included useful and practical information. It’s as though she’s sitting down with you in your own home. There’s also exceptional photography, portraying life at their Caribbean restaurant.

The best part however, is that there’s a portrait of each of the endearing islanders who make Blanchard’s great. It is here that we get to pair a face with the names of those we have come to love within the pages of the novel. The perfect ending to a great beach read.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2021 issue.

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