Sea Glass Hardcover – Large Print, Apr 9 2002
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From its opening pages, Anita Shreve's Sea Glass surrounds the reader in the surprisingly rich feeling of the New Hampshire coast in winter. Vividly evoking the life of the coastal community at the beginning of the Great Depression, Sea Glass shifts through the multiple points of view of six principal characters; it's a skillfully created story of braided lives that bounces easily (even inevitably) from character to character. We learn how these lives come together following the stock market crash of 1929 and about the struggles of mill workers on the starkly beautiful New Hampshire coast during the following year. At the novel's center is the story of Honora Beecher, a young newlywed who compulsively collects sea glass along the beach as she collects unexpected friendship in her new beachside community, and Francis, a boy who discovers a father figure in the towering character of McDermott, an Irish mill worker, at a time when he most needs direction. Each character finds unexpected new purpose beyond the struggle to survive during that turbulent year among the dunes. First their lives barely touch, then they intersect, and finally they become inextricably bound. By the powerful and unexpected final scenes of the story, every point of view, every brilliant shard of life depends deeply on all the others. It is a very satisfying read--confidently told and deeply felt--with as many subtle colors and reflections as the sea glass that permeates the narrative. --Paul Ford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In addition to spinning one of her most absorbing narratives, Shreve here rewards readers with the third volume in a trilogy set in the large house on the New Hampshire coast that figured in The Pilot's Wife and Fortune's Rocks. This time the inhabitants are a newly married couple, Sexton and Honora Beecher, both of humble origins, who rent the now derelict house. In a burst of overconfidence, slick typewriter salesman Sexton lies about his finances and arranges a loan to buy the property. When the 1929 stock market crash occurs soon afterward, Sexton loses his job and finds menial work in the nearby mills. There, he joins a group of desperate mill hands who have endured draconian working conditions for years, and now, facing extortionate production quotas and reduced pay, want to form a union. The lives of the Beechers become entwined with the strikers, particularly a principled 20-year-old loom fixer named McDermott and Francis, the 11-year-old fatherless boy he takes under his wing. A fifth major character is spoiled, dissolute socialite Vivian Burton, who is transformed by her friendship with Honora. As Honora becomes aware that Sexton is untrustworthy, she is drawn to McDermott, who tries to hide his love for her. The plot moves forward via kaleidoscopic vignettes from each character's point of view, building emotional tension until the violent, rather melodramatic climax when the mill owners' minions confront the strikers. Shreve is skilled at interpolating historical background, and her descriptions of the different social strata the millworkers, the lower-middle-class Sextons, the idle rich enhance a touching story about loyalty and betrayal, responsibility and dishonor. This is one of Shreve's best, likely to win her a wider audience. 6-city author tour. (Apr. 9) Forecast: Expectations of brisk sales, indicated by the one-day laydown, will likely be achieved. Readers should find timely resonance in the setting of 1920s economic turbulence.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Set in New England during the Depression, a young salesman, Sexton Beecher marries a bank clerk, Honora. The names are important: they echo time, heritage and personality and thereby keep this story on track. She is everything her name implies, that is, honorable, lovely, intelligent, curious, and clever. She begins a collections of colorful glass that has been washed up on the beach. The salesman, a rogue, is attractive and persuasive but flawed by self delusion. Living in a beach house outside a mill town, they are beset with financial and emotional problems. Anita Shreve creates an exciting dramatic situation by uniting their upper-class neighbor, a communist trade union organizer and two mill workers, a twelve year old boy and a thoughtful, kind man with the Beechers. Their common goal is to help others cope with intense poverty, and a mill workers strike. The efforts of the strikers is rewarded by violence and death.
It is a very attractive story, rich in detail and held together most deeply by the character of Honora and the colors of her sea glass, beautiful things which endure the chaos of the time.
Each character may or may not be developed enough for some readers, but they characters are there to support the main plot, much like the supporting actors in many movies or the marginal actors in films.
Honora Beecher, a naive young woman, marries Sexton, a husband with less than adequate ethics and behaviors. Her struggle to find peace and joy within her home mirrors the struggles of the mill workers as they battle management in an attempt to garner higher wages and better working conditions. Honora wishes for the same things in her own life.
This book signifies the struggle of the period and its individual characters, because despite the depression, people's lives were not entirely consumed by just the larger economic state of the country.
I was pleasantly surprised once I began. I really enjoyed the variations of having each chapter being told through a different characters point of view, yet they weren't choppy and all intertwined to create one omnicient perspective. When I realized the time period the story was taking place in, I felt a little skeptical that I knew what was coming next. I was hoping it woulnd't be any Depression era story and my wish was granted. I felt the trials and tribulations that people had to endure from all walks of life was realistic, and tying in a few historical facts with beautifully written prose made this story a good summer read.
I never would have picked an Anita Shreve book myself but after this read I'm really looking forward to picking up another. I recommend this to people who enjoy Barbara Kingsolver's style and variation on character perspective, yet someone who is in the mood for something new, read this before the summer is over.
I think Shreve is so unique in the creation of her female characters. They are such strong women. I don't know if it is the stream of consciousness narration from Vivian and Honora that makes their emotions so clear to the reader or the everyday experiences that let the reader relate to them on a common plain.
The scenes are so well-constructed that you can literally feel the tension in the characters. When Honora and Sexton are together the first time you can feel the anxiety in Honora and the urgency in Sexton. Later, in the house when they are printing the papers and everyone knows that something is going to happen with the strike, I found myself gripping the book so hard my hands hurt.
There aren't many writers who have the talent to create such heavy characters and move them through heavy scenes without overwhelming the reader. And the great thing about Shreve is she is consistent. So far, every book I have read has been perfect.
Note: This book is one of three that take place in the same house but different time periods. I am not sure in which order she wrote them but chronologically they are: Fortune's Rocks, Sea Glass, and The Pilot's Wife.
Anita Shreve's latest novel, Sea Glass, starts out in these idyllic terms. Loving husband, hard-working couple, a first home, a satisfying hobby. It's a world infused with gadgets from the past, like a copiograph machine, the precursor of the photocopier, and with the habits of the past -- like making all your own dresses.
Sea Glass might, on the most superficial inspection, seem to be another one of those historical romances that view the past, especially the '20s and '50s, as the "wonder years," a safer and more innocent time than the one we live in now.
But Shreve's novel steers well clear of that shoal. Instead, this intriguing novelist seems bent on showing us that the 1920s were just as scary and unpredictable as our own times. The headlines Honora reads every morning suggest a world just as close to spinning out of control as the one most readers are familiar with today. Dozens die over the Fourth of July weekend, many in fireworks accidents. Others drown or crash their cars. With no warning, a ship explodes in the harbor, killing half a town. Soon the fragile harmony of the Beechers' perfect lives, seemingly unflawed by the kind of moral turbulence we experience in the 21st century, is blown apart by the stock market crash and a subsequent union strike.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this book. The language and descriptions are beautiful, the characters are mostly compassionate (except for Sexton, who engages us with a bit of ambivalence), and I loved... Read morePublished on June 19 2004 by Dinah Miller Md
If you read and liked Fortune's Rocks, also by Anita Shreve, Sea Glass is a must read. It was hard to put down.Published on March 29 2004
I couldn't put this book down. I loved the characters,
the time period and the setting. I felt like I was at the
ocean with them. MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR
Save yourself the money and a huge waste of time - this book was one of the most intensely dull I have ever read. Read morePublished on March 19 2004 by CountryGirl
i think that anita shreve books are just ok. i mean they could be better. i mean she just doesn't live an exciting life and she just makes it up. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2004 by corinne schinzler
The book started out interesting and about half way through became almost science fiction.Published on Feb. 4 2004
Anita Shreve used to be a respectable writer. Now she's a talentless hack. This book sucks. It makes annoying references to Fortune's Rocks (her second worst book- the novel that... Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2003
This is a depression era story, written with a deliberately unsophisticated tone, suggestive of the "common people". Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2003 by algo41
Sea Glass is a story about love and struggle. A newly married couple starts a new life together, venturing the unknown in a new place at the brink of the depression era. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2003 by Puteri Azlina