Cape Henry House
Jolly Walker Bittick
Independently Published (2021)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (11/2021)
You never know when you’re going to be inspired. Moved by an old song on the radio and a comedic coming of age movie, author Jolly Walker Bittick grabs hold of the moment and pens, “Cape Henry House” a novel set around a crew of sailors and their escapades during a three-week period in 2008. It’s a whirlwind tale full of drama, adventure and friendship as the group creates lasting memories and forms lifetime bonds.
Based on true events, the story is genuine and appealing and I knew from the start “Cape Henry House” was going to be a laugh and a wild ride. In that, it does not disappoint. The author writes from a place of blissful nostalgia as he portrays an authentic recollection of events through his narrator, Petty Officer Third Class Bosner. As a reader, you can feel the author’s delight in reminiscing about these times through his protagonist.
Life in the military is rigorous at best and the story begins with our 21-year-old narrator, Petty Officer Third Class Bosner, as he unfolds a clear picture of the structure, the discipline and the grueling hours spent on shore during his time as a helicopter greaser in the U.S. Navy.
The house on Cape Henry Avenue becomes the gang’s party place when two of the guys move into the house upon the invitation of a newly married couple looking for roommates. The excitement of having a place to call their own to relax and have a few beers after a hard week of work intoxicates the friends and sets the tone for the entire tale.
The story is well-written and the author paints a clear picture for readers through his casual, easy-going style. The dialogue and other interactions between characters provide many laugh-out-loud moments. It is definitely a character-driven novel that revolves around one central character—not Bosner, but the house itself! Cape Henry House seems to take on a life of its own and puts a new perspective on the age-old statement, “If these walls could talk!”
I would like to have learned more about the guys in their work element. The party scenes reminded me of National Lampoon’s Animal House where good times ruled. While those scenes are absolutely fun, it seemed like a never-ending party at times. For me, it’s in those precious few moments when we catch a glimpse of the characters in their more vulnerable states where I could craft a deeper understanding of what drives them and form a deeper connection.
Overall, it’s clear Jolly Walker Bittick enjoyed himself immensely writing “Cape Henry House.” He has successfully created a tribute to a seminal point in his life, as well as an outrageous coming of age saga.