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Sea Glass Paperback – 21 Nov 2002


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Sea Glass + Fortune's Rocks + The Pilot's Wife
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (21 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349115176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115177
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,156 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.

Review

A beautifully visualised novel of emotional discovery (SUNDAY TIMES)

Shreve skilfully unfolds her story of interlinking lives, displaying an intimate knowledge of the workings of the human heart (WOMAN AND HOME)

A finely written story of human beings pushed to the edge (SUNDAY MIRROR)

When violence erupts, the ensuing tragedy is all the more heartbreaking when described with Shreve's polished restraint (DAILY MAIL)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Mar 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By OllyOctopus on 26 Mar 2003
Format: Paperback
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 By Mrs. Nicola Vanlennep on 12 Jun 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By Aly on 5 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback
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 By Psyche Out on 3 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Rats on 25 Aug 2002
Format: Paperback
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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