I have read five other novels written by Anita Shreve since 2003 when I first discovered I liked this authors descriptive style of writing. Although in this instance I could have done without quite as much detail of exactly what people were wearing.
This novel is divided into three sections covering the periods of 2002, 2003 and then finishing up with 2005. The protagonist is Sydney Sklar divorced then widowed, although still only twenty nine years old. Whilst trying to come to terms with what she wants to do with the rest of her life, she takes a job as a tutor. The position is at a beach house in New Hampshire the summer home of Mark and Anna Edwards, where her job is to coach their daughter Julie for her final year at school. Sydney neither feels like a servant or a member of the family, as Anna and Edward both regard her in a completely different manner. I was never completely sure either how Julie regarded Sydney. The dynamic of the household is changed completely when the two older sons, Jeff and Ben arrive to spend their summer at the beach house. It is their arrival that defines all that happens from then on. At times the plot felt a little disjointed, maybe as it concentrates on the emotions of the characters rather than the particular episodes.
At one time during the novel Sydney reminisces on the history of the house, which confirmed my thoughts that this is the very same beach house mentioned in the earlier novels, The Pilot's Wife, Fortune's Rocks and Sea Glass. A clever touch to choose to have a house rather a person as a recurring theme. Sydney feels that in comparison to the past history of the house, that what has happened to her there is inconsequential, compared to plane crashes, murder, unwed mothers and a war.
It is not a fast paced novel but that is normal for Anita Shreve’s emotional style as is the the way that she leaves us at the end of the novel with not all our questions answered.
An enjoyable read and as some of you correctly guessed the favourite of the selection I read while travelling recently.
Anita Shreve Author Profile – Goodreads
Anita was born on January 01, 1946 in The United States and she grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favourites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston. In the middle of her last year, she quit (something that, as a parent, she finds appalling now) to start writing. "I had this panicky sensation that it was now or never."
Joking that she could wallpaper her bathroom with re...more