| book review: sea glass by anita shreve

Monday, 19 August 2013

Look at me go with my second post in the same day! So far I've only ever posted one book-related post on my blog, (which you can check out here), but that may be because I haven't had much time this year to read outside of school, with me being so busy with A levels. Before I began sixth form I was so hooked on reading, on holidays I could plough through around 5 or 6 books over a one week period, I found it so easy to get lost in a novel! To be honest I've really missed that experienced, studying languages has meant I've had to read books that I've found very difficult to enjoy, and as a result I avoided reading anything for enjoyment.

However this holiday I had so much free time on our lovely campsite in France, and so my love affair with huge and exciting novels was re-ignited! My top pick of the lot I read has to be Sea Glass by Anita Shreve. The way in which I discovered this novel was complete luck, being bored at the caravan I decided to go steal a book from Keycamp's little caravan where they kept books left behind or swapped by fellow campers. On a whim I picked this book after briefly scanning the blurb, not thinking much for it. What a gem it turned out to be!

A little background, the story is set at the time of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, and the book explores how a range of different personalities is affected by this disaster. The protagonist of the book, Honora is a selfless and committed woman who marries Sexton Beecher, a smooth talking albeit shady typewriter salesman, and they are hit hard as their mortgage falls through just as the crash hits.

As the story unfolds, many separate characters, such as Vivian, McDermott and Alphonse begin to cross paths. The fascinating thing is how each of their lives become intertwined; as Vivian is very well off and a socialite from Boston, whilst McDermott and Alphonse each experience very little happiness in poverty-stricken homes. As the group of people pull together towards the end, it is interesting to observe how each character shares the same values and desires regardless of social standing; all fuelled by a large protest in the local factories that risks the lives of many families with the threat of unemployment in a worldwide economic depression.

Another aspect of the book which I thoroughly enjoyed was Shreve's writing style. Beautifully simple and frank which allowed the reader to imagine each chapter play out in one's head. Personally I prefer novels with a minimal amount of description, it can be easy to forget what you're reading about when every adjective under the sun is being used. It was too easy for me to imagine exactly how each character looked and spoke, in other words, her writing painted a beautiful image in my head.

In summary, I found this book to be gripping from the very start, simply because it had all the qualities I look for in a novel and then some! I loved how the characters noticed tiny details about each other, a very human and commonplace thing when meeting new people. I loved the very minimal use of love and relationships, it's very clear the bond between the group was much more important to the writer. Of course I enjoyed the historical context to this story, but loved more that this did not dominate the ambiance of the book; which very easily could have become very gloomy given the devastating effects of the Wall Street Crash. All in all, a perfect read, one of the best I have read in a long time! Safe to say I will be picking up more of her books in the future.

Thanks for reading!

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