The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan
One of the good things to come out of the Pandemic is the myriad of ways that events can now be accessed virtually instead of in person. This has been a godsend in such times. Just last week I signed up for an author event called 'In Conversation with Karen Swan' that Woman and Home magazine were running and which was available to all. Definitely check out your favourite magazines for such events, normally they would be publishing their guides to summer reading now, so there is lots out there. It's also worth checking out your favourite authors as many of them are doing events on social media. It's a great way to learn more about the writing process, access readings and maybe even get a sneak peak into the next book!
Karen Swan's books over the years have become a staple for me. She usually publishes a novel twice a year; a perfect beach read and a super Christmasy novel, many of which have made it onto my 'keeps' bookcase where I store my most favourite books and it was lovely to meet the author behind these beloved books.
One of the first things that strike you about Karen Swan's novels are the beautiful locations, which she researches extensively. Karen did admit that her next summer novel was due be set in Costa Rica, but sadly the research holiday has had to be cancelled due to the Pandemic. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. The Hidden Beach is a little gem of a summer read. The location does not disappoint - set initially in Stockholm before moving the majority of the action to the beautiful summer islands of the archipelago. Her novels always make me ache to explore these places.
Bell works for a Swedish family as a nanny looking after the couple's 3 children. One day she takes a call asking her to pass a message onto Hanna, the Children's mother, telling her that Hanna's husband has awoken from a 7 year coma. Bell was unaware of Hanna being married. As most of Stockholm decamps to the archipelago, Bell desperately tries to hold the family together as freshly awake Emil wants his family back.
Well goodness me, I could not put this novel down! The landscape and settings do not disappoint and there is a real escapist feel to this as we take a peek into the lives of the rich. The family drama is very well written and, at times, heartbreaking. Karen Swan employs a flashback technique in her writing which gives insight into the characters' passions and the point in which they spill over into obsession.
Picking up a Karen Swan novel is like treating yourself to a copy of Hello magazine, we see the opulent lives, the beautiful villas and designer clothes and yet we wonder how much is a carefully curated facade and how happy the people really are.
Karen Swan has not disappointed with this novel, maintaining the high standards of her previous writing. The location is marvellous and it is pure joyous escapism. The perfect summer read.