Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

This was a selection for my book club, which met on Tuesday night. I really enjoyed the book and was looking forward to a good discussion. However, I ended up not going. I actually got off of work early on Tuesday and decided to mow the yard. The weather has been absolutely beautiful around here lately, and I love being outdoors. So, I really don't mind mowing at all. But, that meant that I didn't have time to get to book club and see what everyone else thought about this book. So, I guess you're stuck with my random thoughts.

The only other book by Shreve I've read is The Pilot's Wife, and that was years ago. I don't remember too much about it, but I know I liked it at the time. So I came to this one with few expectations. Each chapter is devoted to one of the main characters, and I usually like this style when all of the characters are well-developed. In this case, it works. The story is set in the Northeast during the early 30s just after the Stock Market Crash. We meet Honora and Sexton as newlyweds. I liked being able to see how Honora and Sexton each perceived things. It shows a great deal how differently men and women think sometimes. They're both young and naive and don't really know what to expect from marriage. In fact, they don't really know each other all that well because they didn't date very long. The other characters are woven into the story as their lives intersect with Honora and Sexton. McDermott works in the mill and becomes involved in union organizing. Alphonse is a little boy from the town who also works in the mill. Vivian is a socialite that vacations on the coast each year. It's interesting to see how Shreve brings all these characters together.

I really enjoyed the setting, and I love this time period. Though I'm thankful I didn't live through it, the Great Depression is fodder for some really interesting books. The reader can tell that Shreve did her research into this time period. In letters from her mother, Honora gets advice on how to make the little they had go a long way. Her mother included recipes that took very few ingredients and told her how to make her own cleaning supplies, etc.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It's a quick read but not fluffy. It deals with relationships, but it's not overly sentimental. The author seems to have the knack of hitting that middle ground, which provides a glimpse into what makes us all human and how we interact with each other especially during difficult times.


Iliana said...

I wasn't a big fan of The Pilot's Wife but I keep hearing a lot of good things about Anita Shreve's books that I think I really need to revisit this author. For all I know it was just right book/wrong time thing! Thank you for this review. It does sound like a book I'd enjoy so I'm keeping it on my radar!

Tara said...

I read this but to tell you the truth, I don't remember much about it. My favorite Shreve has long been Fortune's Rocks, though it has been a while so I'm not sure how I'd feel about it now.

Lisa said...

iliana, I enjoyed this one, but I'm not ready to rush out and buy all her books. I read The Pilot's Wife so long ago I really don't remember that much about it. I'll probably try another Shreve book some time.

tara, I think I have Fortune's Rocks on my bookshelves. I'll have to pull it down.

BooksPlease said...

I enjoyed Fortune's Rocks more than Sea Glass. I like Anita Shreve's books - most of all I enjoyed The Last Time They Met, but recently I read a review that slated it - we can't all like the same things.

Lisa said...

Margaret, I think that seems to be the consensus for most people. I really need to read Fortune's Rocks, I guess.