Book Excerpt: Life's A Beach

Life's a bit of a beach these days for Ginger Walsh, who finds herself single at 41 and back home living in the family FROG (finished room over the garage) in the fictional town of Marshbury. She's spent a few too many years in sales, and is hoping for a more fulfilling life as a sea glass artist, but instead is babysitting her sister's kids and sharing overnights with Noah, her sexy glassblower boyfriend with commitment issues and a dog Ginger's cat isn't too crazy about.

You can almost smell the salt air as you take this rollicking ride with one slightly relationship-challenged single woman, one older BlackBerry obsessed married-with-children sister on the verge of turning fifty, one dump picking father, one kama sutra t-shirt wearing mother, one movie crew come to town with a very cute gaffer, plus a couple of Red Hat Realtors and a pair of evil twins. Reminiscent of her bestseller Must Love Dogs in all the right ways, yet very much its own animal, Claire Cook's new novel sparkles with warmth, wit, and wisdom, as you'll see in the following passages….

I was squeaky clean and my hair had been conditioned for at least two of the suggested three minutes when the water went cold. I did a quick rinse, then turned the faucet off. The plastic shower curtain moved a few inches, and a clean white towel magically appeared. Noah had already left when I woke up, but maybe he'd only made a breakfast run. Or maybe he just couldn't stay away. I smiled.

"Here you go," my mother said from the other side of the curtain.

I screamed. I wrapped myself in the towel and stepped out of my tiny square shower and practically into my mother. "Jesus, Mom, I thought you were . . . someone else."

"Noah? He left at six-twenty-five this morning. And tell him to watch that pebble business or he'll break a window." My mother started dabbing my shoulders with another towel.

"Mom, stop." My mother kept dabbing. There were no limits in our family. I could clearly remember sitting in the bathtub with a book one night when I was ten or eleven. My sister, Geri, had already gone off to college, and my parents had company for dinner. Suddenly, the door opened and four adults looked in at me and my bubbles. "Say good night to Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien," my mother said.

Today, my mother was wearing her Girls Just Wanna Have Fun T-shirt, and a couple of tiny beaded braids in her thick grey hair made her look like she'd just come back from the Caribbean. I was kind of wishing she were there now. "Listen," she said, "your father and I have found the townhouse of our dreams. The Village of Silver Springs. Fitness Center with personal trainers, billiards, bingo, indoor boccie ball, salsa lessons. You know how your father loves to dance."

"It's not just a townhouse, it's a lifestyle," a strange voice said.

I peeked behind my mother to see two women wearing red hats. They were measuring what I liked to think of as my carriage house with a bright yellow tape measure. My cat watched silently from the rumpled sheets of my still-pulled-out sleeper sofa.

On my best days, I could convince myself that, with me at the far end of my parents' driveway, and my sister and her family about a mile away, we had our own little Kennedy compound. On my worst days, I had to admit that I lived in an apartment over my parents' garage.

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