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Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  490 ratings  ·  39 reviews
When Sam Bax, that charming daredevil of a Boston lawyer, sails his boat into a storm off the coast of Maine, Elizabeth "Olly" Bax, his wife and ardent sidekick, becomes a widow at the edge of seventy-seven. With no pretense of "courage", Olly grieves, coping with the warmth and awkwardness of family ties and trying to rethink her own life. Realizing that her risks are as ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 9th 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published 1975)
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Diane
Laurie Colwin was a beautiful writer. Unfortunately she died very young and left us with only four novels and three collections of short stories. This novel is about love and grief. Olly Bax loses her young husband, Sam, in a boating accident. (Sam is the bright and dangerous object of the title.) The rest of the book is Olly's movement through grief and love. Colwin has beautiful, lyrical language and tremendous character development. Her writing is to be savored. There has been some criticism ...more
Magdelanye
If you are fond of tortured introspection and comlex relationshio dramas. you might like this book better than I did. For all her delving and explanations and classifications, it remained unclear to me just why the narrator felt the urges she resisted and indulged, and if I hadnt learned a thing or two from this book, I would have dismissed it as boring.

Mike Coleman
An elegant escape and a great beach book. I've always admired Laurie Colwin and the unique world she carved out in the novels she wrote in the 1970s and 80s before her death in 1992 at the age of 48, and this is one of her best. Writing about the romantic experiences of mostly happy, well-adjusted young New Yorkers, she's like Woody Allen without the neurosis. There is a warmth, a gentleness and gentility to her work, so unlike the many angry anti-Establishment novels from the same period. No wo ...more
Lauren
"We ordered a massive breakfast. There was a sheen on everything, on that cheap Formica table, on the dented cream pitcher, on those horsey locals in their muddy boots. I thought I would keep it with me forever, the faint whiff of horse the place exuded, the faded design on the plates.
As I looked at Charlie, looming up on his side of the table, I felt something close to gratitude, but it was only love and respect, mixed with something in me that he had freed and enlightened. If you can drink li
...more
Jane
When you read the story synopses of her novels, something about them seems very conventional. Love is either longed for or interrupted, and then something else happens that may be a solution for the longing or interruption. Also, the characters are usually people of privilege: money, education, New York address, culture, rarified occupations.

But, what the characters say to each other is surprising, and how they come to know themselves is full of struggle, mishaps, and insight. The worlds of this
...more
JodiP
Colwin died far too early, at age about 48. This is a lovely, lovely book of grief and re-building. There were so many paragraphs that were beautiful, and the way she led you to understand the characters and their relationship was achingly well-done.
Kathleen
This book is one of my all-time favorites. Was entranced with the story and Olly the main character is a flawed yet lovable character with a cool wit. Ms. Colwin writes such great character studies. I have purchased so many copies of this book and gifted them to friends. It is dated by now, but the emotional lives of these characters are relevant for comtemporary life. I believe I first read this book in the early eighties and still remember parts of it clearly, probably because I've reread it s ...more
Nina
I just love her writing. It is always so beautiful and smooth. Even if you can't get behind the characters decisions, you still love them and care about what happens to them. I wasn't prepared for the serious nature of this particular book since most of her other writings I have come across feature almost no sad topics. It is good to know she can go there and still carry her appreciation for how wonderful life can be, even in the face of a tragic event.
Deb
a 27 yr. old woman becomes a widow after 5 yrs of marriage. how she copes, how she lives life and learns to enjoy life is all at the hands of the author. The book is a fast read and one that makes u feel good -- not depressed -- the writer leaves one thinking! I've read other books by Laurie Colwin and haven't been disappointed yet.
Miranda
While I love her writing, I had a difficult time relating to Olly. I thought Part 1 was excellent but Part III seemed strange. How can cheating on the love of your life be such a wonderful choice? Maybe the book just made me uncomfortable, but I couldn't relate.
Beverly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeannine
Hard to rate.

I read most of it, because it's Laurie Colwin, but it's one of her earlier works (1975, I think) and it's mostly a lot of narrative that doesn't really go anywhere. Young woman loses husband. Young woman reflects on relationship with said husband. Young woman falls in love with brother-in-law (husband's brother). Young woman goes to a conservatory for the summer and embarks on affair with a cellist even though she loves brother-in-law. Kind of lost me at that point.

Great title, som
...more
May-Ling
i'm kind of in love with the title of this book - for some reason, it's super satisfying to 'get' a book title and feel like it's fitting. i'd mostly describe this as a page-turner, about a young widow as she gets past grief and begins her life anew. she's a bit emotionless for me to really identify with, yet the solid writing, the focus on patrick and her time at the conservatory make this an interesting read.
Jane
I read this one because a Goodreads article on Anna Quindlen, "Good Minds Suggest," listed this as one of her five favorite love stories. It's a good but not great psychological study of a young woman whose dare-devil husband dies young. Anna Quindlen obviously found more to love here than I do. I'm glad I've read it, but I won't encourage you to put it at the top of your list.
Melissa
The blurb says that the wife became a widow at the age of 77, but that is wrong. The wife is widowed at 27. Big difference. Just an FYI. That's not why the book was just ok. I did like the last third of the book. It is a very short book (180 pages). Had it been a longer book, I probably whould have given up on it.
Holly
Sep 13, 2013 Holly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Holly by: Mimi
Wow! Originally written in 1975, this book is about a young widow. How she met her husband, their short time together, her time of dealing with grief, and how she adjusts and gets on with life -- possibly even to love again.

Can I give this book 6 stars? The book grabbed me from page 1 and took me into the fictional life of Elizabeth Olive Bax. Some of this book is very '70's, although the behavior and thoughts of the characters are still accurate. However, it is definitely from a pre-9/11 world
...more
Karlan
This fast, romantic read is not my usual sort of novel, but I enjoyed most of it. Left a widow at 27, Olly gradually finds her way out of sadness to enjoy music, sex and love again.
Tracy
this book was interesting. part one and two had some beautiful passages and made an interesting story, then came part three. the writing was still lovely, though dragging in spots, but the story line, i just didn't get it. she just sort of dropped it on you and there you were, trying to figure out how fast she could make such an odd decision. guess part one was "shine on", part two "bright and part three "dangerous" ? just don't get it, ending doesn't fit with first two parts. confused.
Terri
Obtained this book from the bookswap shelf in our vacation condo rental. I had never heard of this author and did not expect much based on the title. But I found it to be a matter-of-fact exploration of a young widow's grieving process, although the last few chapters were a little trite. Was saddened to learn the author died in the early 1990's, but plan to read more of her writing.
Eric
Weird and often moving story about a young woman pianist suddenly widowed in her 20s. Dated in the best way, when you could land in NYC and find a cheap, cozy one-bedroom apartment on Bank Street (overlooking a garden, of course), smoke cigarettes and be sort of slutty without even knowing it. A little warm and fuzzy, like a nice old blanket.
Meredith Boginski
I tend to like books about relationships and family drama. But I found the main character's introspections to be pretty trite especially in Part II and III.

I also found myself getting irritated at having the narrator constantly tell me how to think about another character rather than letting me see for myself through actions/dialogue.
Dianne
Beautifully written yet disjointed book. I was engrossed by her prose, however it seemed very disjointed in the final third. Not quite sure what to think about this story other then possibly life throws you curve balls that alter your reality...hmm. I was still unsatified in the end.
sosser
she is so good. this little book was, like all laurie colwin's books, beautifully written, taking me inside the mind and experience of her characters. oddly, it fell apart a bit at the messy end - just when everything is becoming clear to the narrator. i would still recommend it.
kristy
really liked the first two sections of the book; couldn't really get into the third section. it must be deliberate how separate it is, but i still don't quite get it.

i've read her home cooking books-- now i've run to the library to pick up a bunch more of her fiction.
Kathleen
My very favorite of all Laurie Colwin books
Pam
This is a selection for my book club. At first I thought Elizabeth, the main character was without substance. I came to realize that the author allows the reader insight as Elizabeth gains her own in depth understanding of herself.
Laura
Enjoyed the prose as always with Colwin but the interior reflections on Olly's marriage got to be pretty similar after awhile. I did not fault Olly's choices per se but was not all that interested in reading about them.
Mary
I might have ruined this book by reading it in dribs and drabs, but I just didn't like it as much as the other two I've read by her. It especially did not hold a candle to "Goodbye without Leaving".
Nancy
This was her first story collection, and to this day, I love it dearly, for it introduced me to an author who was my metaphorical aunt for many years.
Kate
I picked this up because Powell's didn't have the Colwin book I was looking for, and this one was $1.95. Wonderful writing, but part 3 ruined it.
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Laurie Colwin is the author of five novels: Happy All the Time, Family Happiness, Goodbye Without Leaving, Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object, and A Big Storm Knocked It Over; three collections of short stories: Passion and Affect, Another Marvelous Thing, and The Lone Pilgrim; and two collections of essays: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. She died in 1992.
More about Laurie Colwin...
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen Happy All the Time More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen A Big Storm Knocked It Over Family Happiness

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