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Rescue: A Novel [Hardcover]

Anita Shreve
1.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 30 2010
A rookie paramedic pulls a young woman alive from her totaled car, a first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma--streetwise and tough-talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter Webster, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely. Soon Sheila and Peter are embroiled in an intense love affair, married, and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast.

Can you ever really save another person? Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off track, and for the first time in their ordered existence together, Webster fears for her future. His work shows him daily every danger the world contains, how wrong everything can go in a second. All the love a father can give a daughter is suddenly not enough.

Sheila's sudden return may be a godsend--or it may be exactly the wrong moment for a lifetime of questions and anger and longing to surface anew. What tore a young family apart? Is there even worse damage ahead? The questions lifted up in Anita Shreve's utterly enthralling new novel are deep and lasting, and this is a novel that could only have been written by a master of the human heart.

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"From its opening car crash, 'Rescue' is worth the ride....No one can create the beginning of a complex relationship like Shreve....Shreve gets deep inside these characters, and her insights draw us into their lives.... A story of hope and fear, of promises made and broken.... Shreve creates a little world, peoples it with believable characters, and puts them through agonizing and joyful moments without a false note or a dissonant figure of speech."—Brigitte Weeks, Washington Post

"A paramedic and the troubled young beauty he saves propel Shreve's engrossing latest...With the insistent thrum of life-and-death EMT calls as background, Shreve's vividly told tale captures the deep-seated fears of mortality and loneliness that can drive us to test the bounds of family and forgiveness."—Joanna Powell, People

"Rescue is Shreve at her best....Shreve knows love may be intense, life-changing and passionate, but it is never enough. Her characters bruise each other as much as they comfort each other...."Rescue" is full of themes Shreve loves: How a moment can change a life; loss and love; forgiveness and pain."—Mary Foster, Associated Press

"Compelling.... Fans of Anita Shreve will likely devour this new novel."—Sara Vilkomerson, Entertainment Weekly

"A thoroughly absorbing, perfectly paced domestic drama. Alternating between life-and-death scenarios Pete encounters on the job and the fraught family tension between father and daughter, Shreve pulls readers right into her story."—Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

About the Author

Anita Shreve is the acclaimed author of 15 previous novels, including A Change in Altitude; Testimony; The Pilot's Wife, which was a selection of Oprah's Book Club; and The Weight of Water, which was a finalist for England's Orange prize. She lives in Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

1.8 out of 5 stars
1.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I have a theory..... Jan. 20 2013
...and this is it: Ms. Shreve had been paid by her publisher in advance and she needed to produce a book quickly in order to fulfill the deal. "Rescue" is the result and I'd say the publisher (not to mention anyone who bought the book) was ripped off. I am an avid reader and have always enjoyed Anita Shreve's books, so much so I would buy them instead of checking them out of the library. I didn't purchase this particular novel, as I have access to free books through the military library. Given that the reviews were poor, thought I would just borrow the book and save my money. So glad I did however I am a little miffed that I lost about 4 hours of my life reading it! The whole story was weak and fairly predictable from the first chapter. I won't go into the story itself, as I don't want to ruin it for those who have not yet read it (and please, don't read it!)but I found a few flaws in the story line. Who edited this thing? Did anyone? Such a poor, poor effort from Anita Shreve. Very disappointing. Her past few novels have been not that well-written but this one takes the cake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a waste Nov. 10 2011
(...) I read it. And I kept waiting just like at the cinema when watching 'The Adjustment Bureau ' that proved to be no 'Inception'. I can say in earnest that all those famous people and journals praising the book have not read it. It feels like the author was on a deadline, had to deliver something and scoured for parts. I would not be impressed by it even if I were sixteen and tried to find myself in one of the characters. There is no substance, the dialogue is lame, situations highly predictable and the whole thing could have been written in twenty pages to avoid the constant drag. Now looking at the cover I get even more annoyed as it has nothing to do with the book, the two women photographed could be passing for the mother and daughter, except that they are plain, regular faces, as opposed to the extremely sexy, breathtaking, 'oh my God I can't believe my luck' depicted Sheila and Rowan. Laudable that a guy with a certificate in business decides to become an EMT instead, then get married to keep a child, then raise the child by himself and chase away the alcoholic mother who did not love him, but really? (...) this book is a casual easy read that stands mainly on Anita's reputation.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Just not worth the read March 21 2011
I guess I am not being too fair to Ms. Shreve, as I am comparing most of her novels to the first novel I ever read by her - RESISTANCE. That was a novel worth telling friends about, worth reading more than once, worth thinking - this would be a fantastic movie. Reading RESCUE - just p*ssed me off. The character of Sheila - just could not stand her from the first word out of her mouth, could not understand for the life of me - why Peter Webster would fall for her - he seemed way smarter than to fall for a woman with no redeeming values in her. Anyway - long story short - hated this book. For anyone who has not read Resistance - pick it up - you won't be disappointed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok Read Nov. 22 2011
I have read several Anita Shreve books. This was defintely not my favorite. I would give it a middle of the road rating because while I didn't find it great it was still an enjoyable read. I read it in a day, it was just one of those books that you could get through without paying much attention which is not typical of other Anita Shreve books that I have read(Fortune Rocks, Pilot's Wife, Sea Glass).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.4 out of 5 stars  132 reviews
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment Dec 6 2010
By Bella Lou - Published on
I am a big Anita Shreve fan and have read and own all of her books. I anxiously await their arrival. This one I got from the library and have to say I am glad I did not spend money on it. It is a maybe average book with none of what I enjoy and respect about this author. While I have not always loved all of her other books her writing has always captured me. Not this time...and honestly given the "story" the fact it all works out so perfectly is somewhat disappointing but unrealistic. I only gave it 3 stars (instead of 2) as I did feel compelled to finish it.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but... Nov. 30 2010
By My2Cents - Published on
As Rescue begins, Peter Webster, a paramedic in Vermont, is living with his seventeen year old daughter Rowan. Webster, is concerned about his daughter, her grades are slipping, she's drinking, rebellious, angry and distant. She has not been accepted into the college of her choice, Middlebury. Webster is reminded of earlier days when he met Rowan's mother.

Eighteen years earlier when Webster was a new EMT, one of his first assignments was responding to a one-car accident involving a young woman, Sheila Arsenault. Sheila had been driving drunk and crashed her car. Hospitalized and in serious condition, she recovers from the accident, but doesn't seem to learn her lesson about drinking. Webster can't seem to stop thinking about Sheila, and the two immediately begin a physical relationship. When Sheila quickly becomes pregnant with Rowan, the relationship moves into high gear, even though Sheila has just escaped from an abusive relationship. Webster and Sheila marry, and Rowan is born soon after. Sheila is not prepared for the stresses of motherhood, and she begins sneaking alcohol. When her drinking results in an accident, that could have threatened the life of the couple's toddler, Sheila is sent away to avoid jail time, and Webster raises his daughter with the help of his parents. A crisis year's later, sends Webster searching for Sheila.

I was afraid of giving spoilers as I wrote this review, but then realized that the product overview gives away quite a bit of the sparse plot. I thought the title was perfect as Websters job involves "rescues", and he tries to do the same for the women in his life.

The story was a quick read, and for me there really were not any surprises or plot techniques that made this story anything more than an average read for me. Having read ALL of this author's works, my favorite books of Shreves are still: Eden Close, Strange Fits of Passion, Resistance, and Testimony. This is one of those books that fans need to experience for themselves and decide. I do hope you like it. (Rating 3.5/5 stars)
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant but Unmemorable Dec 14 2010
By Anachronism - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One aspect of Anita Shreve's work I admire tremendously is her range. She is unafraid to tackle new concepts and scenarios. She is willing to tell stories about different types of people in very different situations. In Rescue, Pete Webster is a paramedic in rural Vermont who, at 21, impregnated and married an alcoholic beauty from Boston's suburbs.

These are entirely new characters for Shreve, and the story is compelling. Like most of her novels, she covers more than one important period of the protagonist's life. In that way, she is much more of a classic novelist than many of today's writers.

Webster's history is divided into two parts. We start with the crash scene where Webster meets Sheila Arsenault and extracts her from her ruined car. They date, and she is soon pregnant. They marry, and he has to balance work, an alcoholic wife and an infant daughter.

The second part reverses the first. Having raised his daughter, Rowan, from the time she was two, he struggles to get to know her as a young adult. High school graduation approaches and she is on the verge of making the same life-changing mistakes her mother made. He finds Sheila and brings her back into Rowan's life.

As a Shreve fan, I enjoyed the novel. It's filled with her insights into relationships and those little symbols and sayings that perfectly capture personal development. She is unusually gifted. The problem I have with Rescue is that it's sloppy and too short. We never get to know Sheila, except through brief encounters with Webster. We don't have enough to care about her, and understand why Webster would value her enough to want to bring her back to Vermont. We need to see her through more eyes, through more events. This is a book that too rapidly cycles through the major events. I think it would have been better as a 400-to-500-page novel.

The editing is also a bit sloppy. We need just a tad more to help us with the medical jargon. Webster begins more advanced medical training, but we never find out if he had to sacrifice that to raise Rowan. There's also a small piece depicting Rowan's participation in high school softball that makes several factual and player perception errors. It clearly was neither written nor edited by anyone who has played the game. I worry that Shreve's success means less attention to detail. This is not a novel of the depth and caliber of Fortune's Rocks or Eden Close.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you save someone else from their demons? Nov. 30 2010
By Mary J. Gramlich - Published on
Peter Webster was 21 when he literally saved Sheila Arsenault's life. His EMT team was responding to the call for medical assistance and they met. While these were less than ideal circumstances a relationship was formed and Sheila grabbed on with both hands to Webster's lifeline. Webster had the one and only thing Sheila craved - normalcy.

Sheila comes with excessive baggage to the relationship but Webster ignores it all and falls in love despite the huge problems. They have a daughter, Rowan and Webster prays that this will bring Sheila to her senses and have her stop the spiral of destruction she keeps putting herself into. But with all hopes and dreams this one for Webster is short-lived and he takes the matter of caring for his daughter in his own hands. Sheila cannot be a mother and a drunk and when he made her choose it left Webster alone to raise Rowan.

Life seemed ideal until Rowan hit 17 and beyond the regular adolescent angst Rowan turns angry toward him and Webster is powerless to figure out why. He reaches out to Sheila who has been gone for 15 years and the timing could not have been better as Rowan has found herself in a situation even an EMT can't save her from. Will Sheila being back help or hurt the life Webster has made he doesn't know but for Rowan any risk is worth taking.

This book is one that forces the reader to do self-examination in that it makes you think "what am I willing to risk for the sake of my child". More than likely it is everything and we are of course accepting of what the casualties this decision might bring. Anita Shreve always writes thought provoking books but this one hits home because we all at some time have to decide whether we are a help to another
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Disappointment Dec 27 2010
By Alice - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am one of the most ardent Anita Shreve fans around; I have read all of her novels and have loved them, recommending them to friends and giving them as gifts. However, her latest book, Rescue, totally bewildered me. I couldn't finish it. (I give a book 50 pages; if I'm not engrossed in it by that point, then I figure life is too short and there are too many other wonderful books to read.) I found the characters in Rescue to be totally uninteresting and unsympathetic. Every author is entitled to a "dud," but I was so looking forward to a new Shreve read and then....this!

(After putting aside Rescue, I turned to the book, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I recommend that Ms. Shreve read this book to remind herself what really wonderful plot and character development is!)
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