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Sea Glass [Paperback]

Anita Shreve
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Paperback £8.99  
Paperback, 21 Jan 2003 --  
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Book Description

21 Jan 2003

When an English biographer, Mr Moxton, sets out to write a story on the Rose Street Massacre of 1983, he interviews elderly Honora Beecher, one of the few remaining survivors. Centred around union labour and the textile mills of Depression-era New Hampshire, the massacre involved Honora's husband Sexton. Nearly fifty years have passed and, although she has plenty of time to reflect, the story is still hard to tell. Moxton wants to know everything and sets out to get Honora's and her late husband's life story to tell the tale.

Seen from the alternating points of view of Mr Moxton and Honora Beecher, this is the story of two divergent lives, each experiencing love and loss, sorting our the past and looking for one thing and finding another.

--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (21 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316089699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316089692
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,451,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Anita Shreve's new novel Sea Glass represents a remarkable advance. She previously caught the attention of many readers with Fortune's Rocks and The Pilot's Wife, beautifully crafted novels with rich and subtly observed characterisation. But however impressive those books were, Sea Glass has the same adroit creation of character, but the prose is even more rich and allusive. This is a story of the human heart, of the demands of the past, and of the necessity for pragmatism in human relationships. It's 1929, and Honora Beecher and her husband Sexton are enjoying their new marriage in a cottage on the coast of New Hampshire. Honora is renovating the rundown property and searching for pieces of coloured glass washed up on the beach. Sexton attempts to buy the house they both adore, but with disastrous results: like many other Americans, he is a victim of the stock market crash and is financially wiped out. He is forced to work in a nearby mill, where a labour conflict is having violent results. The couple's struggle to maintain their marriage in the face of dangerous forces that threaten to overwhelm them is vividly and poignantly told.

Shreve has written nine novels and throughout her work she has painstakingly honed her storytelling skills with elegance and intelligence. She is particularly skilful at depicting interlocking lives, as in Sea Glass, and adroitly invests each with its own portion of love and tragedy. If you want to be one of the "early adopters" of Shreve's cherishable novels, now is the time:

In the wet sand by her foot, a bit of colour catches her eye. The glass is green pale and cloudy, the colour of lime juice that has been squeezed into a glass. She brushes the sand off and presses the sea glass into her palm, keeping it for luck.
--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


superbly read by Emilia Fox and Kerry Shale, and when it ended I decided to listen all over again. (Christina Hardyment INDEPENDENT MAGAZINE) --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Honora sets the cardboard suitcase on the slab of granite. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read - beautifully constructed 31 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Anita Shreve is one of my favourite writers. She writes books that are beautifully constructed with lyrical prose that carries the reader along.
In this new novel Shreve takes the setting from two of her previous books, Fortune's Rocks and The Pilot's Wife. The period in time of this book falls betweens that of these previous two books. The story is told from the viewpoint of numerous characters which span the social classes in the town of Ely Falls.
The story centres on two characters, Honora and Sexton Beecher who are newlyweds. They move to the town of Ely Falls where they buy a house. Unfortunately events take a turn for the worse and they are financially ruined. Sexton is forced to take a job at the local mill where workers like McDermott, another character who tells the story, are setting up a union and attempting to fight for the rights of workers. It is a story that raises interesting moral issues from this period in history, child labour and the oppression of manual workers. This is juxtaposed with Vivian's story, a young society girl in a privileged position.
This is another wonderful story from a fantastic writer who never fails to maintain reader interest.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and emotional novel 26 Mar 2003
Sea Glass is partly set in Fortune's Rocks again, and interweaves the famous house from that book and The Pilot's Wife, which adds interest for her readers. I did like this book, but not as much as the other two I mentioned. Hence, the 4 stars. I was interested in the rise of unionism, and the desire for improved working conditions and pay in the factory. However, I felt some of the lesser characters were a bit too similar.
The use of the collection of sea glass added to the atmosphere of the book, and felt like Anita Shreve territory. I do recommend it - but if it's your first Anita Shreve....then I recommend Fortune's Rocks more.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender, beautifully written story 12 Jun 2002
Anita Shreve weaves a wonderful plot and captures you with her poetic prose from the very first page. Franco-Americans, child labour, poverty, The Great Depression and union movements all feature in this novel. Honora, the heroine, collects sea glass washed up on the beach but her husband, Sexton, describes it as "other people's trash". Yet to Honora, the smoothly rounded edges and pearly hues of the glass are exquisite. They symbolise Honora's escape from their rocky marriage and the gloom of The Great Depression. Perhaps they even represent a glint of hope found in the ruins of the heady days of The Prohibition? The novel weaves strong characters into the story: Alphonse, a Franco-American child from the mills, McDermott his kindly benefactor and Vivien, Honora and Sexton's privileged neighbour. Honora's mother writes to her daughter in short, succinct letters, yet her maternal tenderness and concern are so cleverly revealed.
Having read "The Last Time We Met", I wondered how Anita Shreve would match the ending in Sea Glass. All I can say is that it is poignantly perfect!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visting Familiar places at different times. 5 Dec 2006
By Aly
This is the most enjoyable of the more historical Shreve books I have read. Also it is set in the same place as Fortune's Rocks - the main characters live in a house formerly owned by the main people in that previous novel - which is lovely to recognise parts even though the stories and characters are unrelated. Also there is a side story in another Shreve Book - A Wedding in December - which although being set in more modern times features a character fascinated about an event which occured in Halifax harbour in the past. The same event appears in this book in the history of Honora's Uncle. It was another small part which you would not miss if this is the first Shreve book you have read - but it really added to my enjoyment of the book recognising places and events. Excellent story - wonderful characters - un-putdownable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Period fiction with a difference 3 Feb 2009
I love Anita Shreve - her work is unique amongst novelists in that while I'm reading her books real time seems to stand still. I find myself so locked up in her made-up world that I lose sense of where I am and everything going on around me becomes muted white noise. I don't think another author has ever delivered that depth of escapism for me.

This book was a gift and I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as 'The Pilot's Wife' and some of Shreve's other books that I'd read and loved, but in fact it was superbly written and full of interest, especially the workers' rights aspect and the link of the house to the present day in her other works. She is a craftsman in her field - not to be mistaken with so many other novelists churning out period pap for the masses.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea glass itself 25 Aug 2002
By Rats
Delicious, sad book. Its refrain, the sea glass picked up by protagonist Honora and others, reminds of a nice folk story - unlikely to be well known in the UK - that seems pertinent to me. Here it is.
In Neapolitan tradition - in fact, also in a song and in Indian folklore - the sea lays on the shore "'e pazzielle", the little mad things ("crazelettes"?), which are a metaphor for the little things of everyday life, that give people their memory and their symbolisms. They mean life for those picking them, but cannot compete with the big swells - the forces of history - which ultimately take charge on people's lives, so the crazelettes are washed away and get forgotten.
The book's story, and the book itself, are just like that. Had Shreve not written it, few would have known of the Honoras and McDermotts of the 1930s. Swept by the Great Depression, the strikes, the thugs, they would lie unknown. And reading the book is like picking sea glass. Of course, the beauty of it is in the eye of the beholder - not all reviews on the US Amazon site are favorable - but my own eye certainly beheld it. I advise trying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read
Published 24 days ago by linda.j.m
3.0 out of 5 stars Trouble at the Mill
Shreve returns in this novel to the house in Ely Falls where Olympia Biddeford lived in 'Fortune's Rocks'. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kate Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding entertainment
Anita Shreve is a great writer and Sea Glass is a superb novel. The characters are believable and there is a strong story line . Read more
Published 10 months ago by Deborah Jane Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars sea glass
well written stroy that i couldn.t put down . very descriptive. sad and heart warm.well worth a readIn the textile-manufacturing region of New Hampshire in 1929, newlyweds Honora... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. Sheena J. Ellis
4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxing read
Enjoyed the characters in the book and how the situation they found themselves in developed. I would recommend it to other book groups for discussion
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. M. Muir
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Wonderfully written, I could perfectly imagine all the characters and the setting. Really atmospheric descriptions.A sad but lovely tale, would recommend.
Published 19 months ago by RosiePinky
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable look at the rise of unionism
I've never read any Shreve before and enjoyed this much more than I expected to. I thought the characters were all beautifully drawn, distinct and believable. Read more
Published on 21 May 2012 by daisyrock
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea Glass
This is the first Anita Shreve novel I read and bought it as part of a Christmas present for my sister-in-law as I knew she'd love it too. Beautifully written. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2010 by Rose Garden
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Anita Shreve
Set against the wall street crash of 1929 this was my first Anita Shreve. The story unfolds through the narrative of different charactors so you get all angles of the story as it... Read more
Published on 2 Sep 2009 by Dr Phibes
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and Hardship
At the centre of the story are Honora, bank clerk and Sexton, typewriter salesman who meet and marry at the start of the great depression. Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2008 by LindyLouMac
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