Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sea Glass

Our circle met today and talked about Anita Shreve's Sea Glass. Most thought it not a bad book, perhaps emphasizing story over characterization. A notch above a Danielle Steele.

Points raised: the sea glass- symbol of beauty to be found in the unexpected, treasure from trash, symbolic of survival and even transformation in hardship, lives tossed and turned in the sands of time. One of our members brought some sea glass which she placed in a white dish. She had also done a watercolour of bits of sea glass! Wonderful.

Writing style. Most agreed that the different chapters given to each character's voice was a bit choppy and distracting at first but as the characters linked up and the story came together more as a unity this was not minded so much. I thought, as a writer, this was a relatively easy technique to pull off. It would be harder to put in the good narration to bring out the characters motivations and thinking.

Who was the most realistic character? Some thought Vivian ( as I did) , others disagreed absolutely and thought she was the least realistic. The mother, though her voice was small, was universally thought authentic. Honora- some thought her personality was a bit enigmatic , others thought that her character came through clearly from her actions and decisions in the story. Loyal, resourceful, hard working, well liked, compassionate, a woman of her time. McDermott and Alphonse, well portrayed but Sexton was less fleshed out; there was less back story on him.

The time period: Most thought the author did a good job of her research although some thought the mention of the Halifax explosion and some details were a bit forced, didn't seem natural or intrinsic to the story. All thought the details such as recipes and household tips from Honora's mother were dead on. Were the details of labour unrest in New England mills authentic? Probably.

The House: I tried to bring up the role of the house which inspired Anita Shreve's three books- The Pilot's Wife, Fortune's Rocks and Sea Glass but members didn't seem much interested in this. It was of great interest to me, my friend Ami having just written her first novel The Birth House inspired by the house she lived in which had been the house of a midwife in the community.

Next book- Adultery by Richard B. Wright

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Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)