Book review: If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go

Judy Chicurel

Tinder Press, €15.99; ebook, €9.99

You can almost smell the dope wafting from the Starlight Hotel over the rotting boardwalk in this evocative debut novel.

It conjures up a long summer at the tail-end of the hippie era in a decaying seaside town in Long Island. Once a desirable resort, Elephant Beach is now down on its luck, populated by a tough working class community and deeply scarred by the Vietnam War.

Narrator Katie is one of a crowd of young people who hang out at the seedy Starlight Hotel, getting stoned and falling in love.

She’s fixated with damaged Vietnam vet Luke, but it’s her relationship with her girlfriends that’s at the centre of the novel.

A mixture of tough cynicism and hopelessly romantic naivety, they are brilliantly realised.

This is an absorbing book that completely conjures up a disappeared world.

By the end, like Katie, you’ll be sorry to leave Elephant Beach behind.


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