The Vacationers Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Vacationers

Franny Post, a Manhattan based mother of two, plans a vacation to Mallorca, Spain for her family and best friend well before she realizes that their lives are not as ideal as she would have hoped. Franny Post arranged to rent a house in Mallorca for a much needed two week vacation with all the people she loves most. Right from the start, Franny is a planner with all the details taken care of which is generally a recipe for disaster. The house turns out much bigger than expected and easily fits, Franny, her husband (Jim), her daughter (Sylvia), her son (Bobby), her son's live-in, much older girlfriend (Carmen), her best friend (Charles) and Charles' husband (Lawrence). The trip was planned well in advance of Franny finding out about her husband's infidelity with a much younger office assistant at the magazine where is the editor which led to his subsequent early retirement. Franny seems content to pretend nothing is wrong for the duration of the trip but that proves too much for everyone else.
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Sylvia is eighteen and about to start college in the fall. She was involved in an awkward social media situation right before leaving for Spain that involved photos being posted of her making out with several people at a party. Betrayed by someone she thought was her good friend and possibly her boyfriend, she welcomes the chance to run away and hide out for a few weeks and starts entertaining the idea of staying there forever. Franny arranges for a tutor to come help Sylvia with her Spanish during their stay and Sylvia immediately develops feelings for the twenty year old Joan (Joe-han). In a very predictable fashion, she loses her virginity to him and then he basically pulls away from her until it's time for them to leave.

Charles and Lawrence are in Mallorca at Franny's request but had reservations about going on a trip with someone else's family. Charles is a painter and Lawrence does the accounting for movies and they enjoy a quiet life split between Manhattan and Provincetown. Charles and Franny have been best friends for decades and Lawrence seems resigned to let them enjoy their "best friend time" and do his own thing. Lawrence and Charles had begun the process of adopting a baby before leaving and had already experienced the heartbreak of being chosen only to have the rug pulled out from them at the last minute. While in Spain, they get an email from the adoption agency saying that a mother has picked them but to enjoy the rest of their vacation as these things take time. Charles had always been reluctant about the adoption since he is older than Lawrence and would be content with a simple life with just the two of them. However, once they get the email saying that a baby named Alphonse may be joining their family, he's on board.

Jim and Franny are working through what to make of Jim's infidelity and how to proceed with their marriage. For over thirty years they have been married through both good times and bad and both their children acknowledge that their union is anything but perfect. Franny takes issue, not just with the cheating, but with the fact that the young woman involved is only a few years older than their daughter. Oddly enough, their marital issues just happen in the background of the trip without becoming a huge issue. That is, until all the tension comes to a head when it becomes clear that almost everyone there knows that Jim did and Charles ends up hitting him. Somehow this dramatic moment brings them back together and offers a release.

Bobby and Carmen occupy a space in the story almost entirely separate from everyone else. They met when Bobby was still in college and started working out at the gym where Carmen is a trainer. At least ten years older than Bobby, Carmen is a fanatic about her health and fitness. She is described as always being in work out clothes and generally doing various exercises by the pool. Workouts aside, she appears to be a kind, stable force in Bobby's life even though she has never been fully accepted by his family (most likely because she's so much older). Bobby was originally working as a real estate agent in Miami but when the market took a turn, he tried to give being a trainer a shot. That was clearly a mistake since, while he's gotten into shape recently with Carmen's help, he's not a fitness guru like she is. In an attempt to make easy money, he got involved in what seems like a protein shake pyramid scheme that cost him $150,000 in credit card debt and barely made him a cent. Part of the agenda for him going on the trip was to tell his parents that at 28, he needed help. He avoided dealing with this until Carmen all but forced him to spill one night at dinner. Up until this point, Bobby had almost been an irrelevant character. One night he takes Sylvia out with him to go to a club or bar in town and she catches him cheating on Carmen. Like all things, this comes out and Carmen leaves him and Mallorca for good.

By the time it's time to leave Mallorca, it looks like Franny and Jim's marriage is going to remain intact, Charles and Lawrence are preparing to welcome baby Alphonse into their home, Bobby is considering moving back to New York to get his life in order and Sylvia is more than ready to go out on her own at college.
Best part of story, including ending: I liked the combination of different types of people and personalities living under one roof. The whole point of books such as this is to have a seemingly simple trip, go awry which is exactly what happened!

Best scene in story: I loved when Charles admitted to Lawrence that in the early days of their relationship, he cheated. It was years ago when they had just moved in with each other and he never told him. In a great twist, Lawrence says that he knew the whole time but never said anything because it didn't matter.

Opinion about the main character: Franny is the stereotypical mother goose of this whole trip. I love how content with herself she seems to be when in reality she's kind of a mess.

The review of this Book prepared by Alexis Stern a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Vacationers

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   upbeat Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Other aspects:    -   best friends Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Jewish


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Island?    -   Yes Island:    -   on vacation City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Emma Straub Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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