Complete with a furnished garage the gang dubs a “pass out room,” the Cape Henry House represents freedom from barracks life, and Bosner and co. party there—and in the nearby bars, restaurants, strip joints, and dance clubs, where minor trouble always awaits them. Bittick adeptly captures the feel of nights spinning out of control, of young mens’ edgy banter that can quickly explode into anger, of uncertain flirting and scarf-some-greasy-food mornings, and above all his sailors’ urgent camaraderie, as together they seek relief from their drudging days—and the likelihood of deployment—in nights whose wildness never quite disguises their innocence or, at times, loneliness.
The author served in the Navy himself, and the novel pulses with authentic details, not just about blow ups and beer pong. Bittick marvelously captures the niceties of washing helicopters or the annoyance of aviation mechanic Bosner realizing, while working in a gearbox assembly shaft, that his hands are covered in blood rather than the hydraulic fluid he expected. The novel’s rich characterization and scenecraft are engaging, but readers looking for page-turning plotting will find little in this evocation of a passing moment
Takeaway: This hard-partying slice-of-life powerfully evokes being young, enlisted, and not yet sure who you are.
Great for fans of: John "Chick" Donohue and J. T. Molloy’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever, Rosie Schaap’s Drinking With Men.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A
Cape Henry House is a work of fiction in the coming of age, interpersonal drama, and humorous fiction sub-genres, and was penned by author Jolly Walker Bittick. Intended for the general adult reading audience, the book’s central plot follows a group of sailors who take a house away from the base. Thinking that this home will be a chance to kick back, relax and have a few parties, what follows is a heartfelt exploration of the bonds which a group of common souls can make, and how those bonds see them off into a world of adventure when they are sent out into the real world.
Author Jolly Walker Bittick has crafted a magnificent work of interpersonal drama with plenty of laughs, pathos, realism, and camaraderie that will surely warm the hearts of those who read it. One of the features which I found particularly impressive about this piece was the attention to detail in character work and development, describing not only the roles of each sailor in their work capacity but also how the dynamics of their roles lead them to respect, laugh with and occasionally clash with one another, as well as the wider cast of the story. I also really enjoyed how the house almost became its own character within the plot as a symbol of togetherness, craziness, and the chaos of naval life. Overall, I would certainly recommend Cape Henry House to readers looking for accurate realistic fiction about contemporary naval life, books with a warm heart at their core, and for fans of enthused and accomplished dramatic writing.