4 stars - a really enjoyable read
At the age of twenty-nine, Sydney has already been once divorced and once widowed. Trying to regain her footing, she has answered an ad to tutor the teenage daughter of a well-to-do couple as they spend a sultry summer in their oceanfront New Hampshire cottage.
But when the Edwardses two grown sons, Ben and Jeff, arrive at the beach house, Sydney finds herself caught up in a destructive web of old tensions and bitter divisions. As the brothers vie for her affections, the fragile existence Sydney has rebuilt is threatened.
Reason for reading
I’ve been a big fan of Anita Shreve since reading Eden Close many years ago and was avidly awaiting this novel’s paperback release.
“Three o’clock, the dead hour. The faint irritation of sand grit between bare foot and floorboards.”
I was happy to see the Beach House that has been a theme of Sheve’s earlier novels make another appearance - it’s interesting to read about the history of a house and the people who lived there lives within it in such different ways.
This particular tale revolves around Sydney, a woman twice married, once divorced and once widowed - who spends the summer at the Summer House tutoring the Edwardses teenage daughter.
The themes of the novel are family dynamics and secrets, love, marriage and deceit - and all are thrown together in a novel made up of broken paragraphs containing disjointed snippets of information, conversations, feelings and beautiful descriptions of Sydney’s thoughts and surroundings.
The novel explores Sydney’s relationship with Mrs Edwards - an awkward one - and the love that develops with Mr Edwards and Julie - as they welcome her into their family. And then of course their are the sons, Ben and Jeff who between them weave a web in which Sydney becomes entangled.
It’s hard to review this novel without giving away the story line - and there are so many twists and turns along the way I’d hate to reveal any secrets. It’s a beautiful book, well written and thought provoking - but one which can be devoured in a couple of sittings. Buy yourself a copy - you won’t be disappointed.
The Beach House
Some fellow readers have asked which Anita Shreve novels I’d recommend and in which order they should be read. Personally I’ve enjoyed all of them, although A Wedding in December is my least favourite. The Beach House that is owned by the Edwards family in Body Surfing also makes an appearance in the following novels:
1. Fortune’s Rocks
2. Sea Glass
3. The Pilot’s Wife
4. Body Surfing
I’d suggest starting with Fortune’s Rocks and reading on from there - and then visiting some of her other novels....Continua