Rescue: A Novel Hardcover – Nov 30 2010
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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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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.
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)
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