Friday, August 20, 2010

Review #80: Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin

Sea Escape Lynne Griffin

Simon and Schuster
Literary Fiction
Format: ARC

My Description:

This is a story about family and the relationships within and how they change through the years. It mainly tells the story of Laura and her mother, Helen. It begins with Helen suffering a stroke, witnessed only by her eight year old grandson, Henry.
Laura, supported by her husband, her daughter Claire and distant brother, Holden, she begins to piece together her mother's former life. 
In a way to reach her mother, she begins to read the letters Joseph, her father, wrote to Helen during their marriage.
Through these letters, Laura recognizes a calm wash over her mother's face and is grateful she can give that to her. But these letters also hold evidence of a flawed marriage, of failed hopes, of secrets, and of betrayal. 

Helen was a reserved, patient woman of strong faith who worshipped her husband, Joseph. While he was traveling and working as a reporter for the Associated Press during wartime Vietnam, she was left to create a home for them and their new family. Helen, stubborn and unwillingly to accept help from her father, supported her family by sewing. This became a great passion of hers as she dreamed of decorating their own home, instead of the shabby apartment they were forced to live in. His beautiful letters filled with love and hope for their family guide her through these difficult years. 

With these letters, Helen works through her struggles with being alone and continues to wait until Joseph comes homes to stay. Through miscarriages and the loss of a son, Helen finally gives birth to a healthy daughter, Laura. In time they make their home to a cottage by the shore, named Sea Escape. Decorated with love, it becomes Helen's oasis and where she eventually mourns the loss of her beloved husband.

Laura is a mother of two and works in the nursery at the local hospital. She knows she does not have a close relationship with her mother but that doesn't stop her from trying. All her life she witnesses her mother still waiting for her dead father, loving him more than her and never being fully present. Holding secrets of her own, she tries to be the best mother, wife, and daughter she can. 

The novel tells of Helen's story in her early years of her marriage and during present day with Laura and her family. 

My Review:

I usually don't read other people's reviews of books that I know I am going to review but, in this case, I did. I was surprised when I read that this reviewer did not enjoy this book. I felt it to be an incredibly moving account of a mother and daughter. But after a few hours of really thinking about this book, I know why I felt so strongly.

I related a lot to this story because of my Grandma. It doesn't take much for me to feel strong emotion when it comes to her.

Here is where it got me. Laura visits the church where her family were patrons and this is the conversation she as with the Father.

""Helen's always been a woman of few words. But her faith is strong, Laura. God is working within her, have no doubt." He was right about my mother's brand of faith. She wasn't one to talk about the depth of it. She wasn't a "holy roller", an expression she liked to use when she was annoyed with someone who dropped his or her religious persuasion into every sentence like a heavy bible. My mother's spirituality, like mine, was quiet and introspective, though her beliefs were more strongly held than mine. She was traditional church. No premarital sex. No birth control. No abortion. She said I was a menu Catholic. She believed I browsed the rules and chose only those that appealed to me."

This was my Grandma. But also, my Grandma lost her beloved husband early in life and  she lost a son. A calm and quiet took over her after these tragic events happened in her life and her relationships with family members were changed because of it. Her relationship with my mother changed.

I know this isn't an emotional post about my Grandma's life but this book hit home for me. I related strongly with the roles of the grandchildren. I recognized the controlled and some what anxious role of the daughter (as my own mother). I identified with the fierce need for advocacy when dealing with the care of an elder and all of the politics involved.

Rating:  5 stars/ 6 stars
I recommend this one if you are in the mood for a powerful, well written novel.  It has an energy that pulses through it. You feel the wind in your hair,so to speak, of the journeys of these two women and pray for a beautiful sunset beach as the final destination. I was just looking for a feeling of peace, much like I feel when I think of my Grandma.

Book Club Note:
With the mother/daughter relationship, the roles of caregivers, the history of Vietnam, and the troubles of marriages, book clubs would find a lot to discuss, I think. Mine, unfortunately, did not pick this one when I suggested it but, to their defense, I had a stack of 5 books there at the time. 

* Thank you to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for sending me this copy to read.

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

(The quoted material comes from an ARC so it may be different in the finished book)


Julie@My5monkeys said...

I love stories with mother daughter interaction. Will be adding this one to my pile.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I liked this book, but did not love it. I preferred the Life Without Summer story of last year. Have you read that one?

Tales of Whimsy said...

What a beautiful touching review. I love books that strike so close to home.

I always commend people who can face such enormous loss and still retain their faith and spirit.

Helen Ginger said...

It sounds like a complex book. One to be read slowly, with time to stop and ponder. Perhaps a winter book for me.

bookmagic said...

This sounds like a beautiful read, great review, very moving! I loved the cover

Lisa said...

Isn't it amazing when a book is so relatable? There's nothing an author can do to make it so, but hope that the readers who will connect, like you with this one, find the book.

Gina said...

Nice review! A "personal" connection to a book or the subject matter can definitely make a book rate higher on your like or dislike radar. So glad that you enjoyed this read and found a little piece of family within. Happy reading!

Jessica said...

Wow, this book sounds great! I don't usually jump at books that tend to make me emotional, but I think I'll give this one a try. :)

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Folks, I accidentally posted that the price was $35.00.
It is actually $25!


Go buy it!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

very beautifully said! I love the quote you included. i'm not one for the holy rollers either...i believe faith should be felt not shoved but that's another conversation....I appreciate the memories you shared of your Grandma. It's always nice to know a little more about my friends in the blogging world.