Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book Review: Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

Photo taken from Goodreads

 Book Info

Title:  Sea Glass 
Author:  Anita Shreve
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books
Language: English
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  384 pages 
ISBN - 10:  9780316780810
ISBN - 13:  978-0316780810
Source:  Gift


From Goodreads:

It is a house on the beach. Honora doesn't mind renting - despite its age and all its flaws, the old house is the perfect place for a new marriage. She and Sexton throw themselves into fixing it up, just as they throw themselves into their new life together. Each morning, Honora collects sea glass washed up on the shore, each piece carrying a different story in its muted hues.
Sexton finds a way to buy the house, but his timing is perfectly wrong. The economy takes a sickening plunge, and as financial pressures mount, Honora begins to see how little she knows this man she has married - and to realize just how threatening the world outside her front door can be.
Like those translucent shards that Honora finds on the beach, Sea Glass is layered with the textures, colors, and voices of another time. There is Vivian, an irreverent Boston socialite who becomes Honora's closest friend even as she rejects every form of convention. McDermott, a man who works in a nearby mill, presses Honora's deepest notions of trust - even as he embroils her in a dangerous dispute. And there's Alphonse, a boy whose openness becomes the bond that holds these people together as their world is flying apart."


One of the risks in writing a period novel is crowding your book with too much history that the story itself gets drowned within all the historical trivia.  Striking the perfect balance between historical fact and fiction is therefore essential in ensuring that the story presents an accurate portrayal of the chosen setting, yet dreamlike enough to remind the readers that they are traversing a fantastical realm.
Sea Glass by Anita Shreve is set in the Great Depression in America where it follows the lives of Honora and Sexton, a newlywed; Vivian, a flighty socialite; McDermott, a half-deaf Irish immigrant; and Alphonse, the young boy who has found a father figure in the latter; and Alice, Honora's mother.  Every chapter tells a story of a particular character that seamlessly blends into succeeding chapters that comes full circle towards the end.
In the tradition of this author's intense character examination, each of the cast in this book were given enough room to demonstrate their unique personalities and stories that by the end of this book, the reader feels like he/she is already friends with all characters and knows them inside out.  However, this does not mean that they are already very predictable; indeed, they - like the story itself - was very unpredictable and complex that the reader could only read on to learn what will happen next, any speculation as to what will come of this book would only be proven wrong towards the end.  But never fret, the ending is as remarkable, vivid, and profound as the rest of this story.
But.  Yes, I had a slight problem with this story.  I felt that it read a bit too slow and most of the significant events were all shown towards the ending and the beginning and middle chapters of this book was mostly dedicated to thoroughly examining each character's background.  I have no problem with detailed character descriptions, but this story had too much character background than need be.  There were a few other plot twists that could have been explored as related to each character's overview but were otherwise left untouched.  I think that leaving some threads hanging is not too much of a big deal but the character detailing could have been shortened a bit more in order to provide a better pace for this novel.
Other than the slow pace, I have no other issues with this book and would probably read this again and again.  In fact, my mother read this before I even had the chance to thumb through its pages and she was also very satisfied with how this turned out but felt that it did read a bit slow.  For those who do not mind an intensely detailed character overview and a slightly slow-paced book, Sea Glass would prove to be a very magically realistic story of that sadly unforgettable time of the Great Depression. 


If you have any questions on this particular rating, please refer to my ratings system here.


All opinions expressed in this book review are my own and not influenced by any party in any way.

Please contact me for questions, comments, and suggestions.  

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