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The Cape Ann

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  814 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Lark Erhardt, the six-year-old narrator of The Cape Ann, and her fiercely independent mother dream of owning their own house; they have their hearts set on the Cape Ann, chosen from a house catalog. But when Lark's father's gambling threatens the down payment her mother has worked so hard to save, Lark's mother takes matters into her own indomitable hands. A disarmingly in...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 2nd 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,186)
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Pamela Pickering
I tend to enjoy coming of age novels so it wasn't a surprise that I enjoyed this one. Although I thought the author made the main character's voice more mature than a 5-6 year old, I really enjoyed the picture she painted of life in the late 1930s. Sadly, I wonder if it wasn't similar to the childhood my mom may have had (family strife). Good story telling. I am looking forward to the sequel "Gardenias".

Debbie
I very much enjoyed this book. It really was not the warm feel good book I expected. Set at the end of the Depression in small town Minnesota, it is the story of 6 year old Lark Erhardt. Lark lives with her mismatched parents in a makeshift apartment attached to the train depot where her father works. Major events in Larks life and the lives of the townspeople and other relatives are filtered through Lark's keen but naive eye. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Wendy Kobylarz-Chouvarda
I first read this about five or six years ago, then came back to it to see how Sullivan manages to write a novel for adults from the point of view of a six, seven & eight-year-old girl. Not only has the book held up since I last read it; I think I appreciated it more this time. This is the magic of the novel: you feel for Lark, the protagonist and narrator, you feel as if you know her, yet despite her abusive father, crazy friends and the bitingly sad story of Hilly Stillman, it is not sacch...more
Mona
Apr 29, 2010 Mona rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mona by: Aerin
This is a difficult book to explain because it's one of those books that doesn't have a clear-cut plot running through it. For the same reason, it may be difficult to understand why I loved it.

It is the Great Depression, World War II is looming, and six-year-old narrator Lark Erhardt lives with her mother and father in a small room next to the train depot where her father works. More than anything else, Lark and her mother want to build a new home, and they pore over brochures featuring a model...more
Cecilia
Loved this book. A review on the back compared it to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and as I initially started reading, I was worried it was way too close to that book to be considered good in its own right. The novel ended up taking a unique direction though and proved itself. For much of the book, I hated Papa (Willie), but then he would have moments of genuine kindness that would give him a believable element of humanity. I think he really did love Lark in his own way. I suppose I should have been a...more
Beth
This is a poignant story of a child's memories of her parents' troubled marriage. She learns a lot of lessons in the time period recounted, about compassion, friendship, etc. I especially liked the story about how she and her mother befriended the shell-shocked young man who everyone else in town was embarrassed by. That was very touching.

The writing was quite good, although from time to time it seemed like the child had WAY too much insight into human nature for the age she was supposed to be....more
Suanne Laqueur
I can't quite say why, but this is possibly one of the most wonderful books I've ever read. I loved every chapter, every paragraph and every word. Fantastic, unforgettable characters in Lark and her mother. The six-year-old point of view was delightful.

HIGHLY recommend.
Alison
Thanks Cati, for Cape Ann! It was a great read. At first, I had a bit of trouble believing that this six year old girl, Lark, had so many adult thoughts. Since the story was told through her eyes, sometimes I felt that it was unbelievable that she grasped the weight of the situation: Situations a six year old ought not to know or comprehend. For me, I felt that it was an indictment against the Catholic church. I wasn't offended by it, but for me, it confirmed my thinking that a lot of the dogma...more
Jane
The narrator of this book is Lark Erhardt, a little girl living with her parents in a train depot in Minnesota during the depression. Lark and her mother dream of one day having the Cape Ann house they have picked out from a book of designs. The depression, her father's gambling habit, and other family problems keep them from realizing their dream.

The characters are all believable and well-drawn. Lark's father is misguided and strict to the point of abuse, but one can sympathize even with him as...more
Claudia
I like the way this book was written from the point of view of a little girl from the time she was 6 until she was about 8 or 9. It is fairly depressing, but also interesting to see things through the eyes of this girl. The vocabulary was definitely beyond a girl of her age but that didn't really bother me. What did bother me was the ending. It just seemed to leave you hanging. The parents' behavior (especially the dad) was also disturbing, but I suppose it rings true, sadly, for many children....more
Gwen L
Loved this book, a Minnesota author and I was sad for days after I finished wondering what my new friend Lark was up to.
Julie
Lovely story taking place during the depression in South Central MN narrated by a 6 year old girl.
Stephanie
This depression-era story is told by a 6 year old little girl. In much the same way as "To Kill a Mockingbird", little Lark Erhardt comes of age by observing the world around her. She doesn't always completely understand, or agree with the events, but she is so determined to fit them into her little frame knowledge that she quickly endears the reader. Surrounded by characters like her domineering, gambling father, her independent mother and the strong beliefs of the nuns at that teach her chatec...more
Brenda
I read this book for a book discussion. The story was tender and emotion touching. The author constructed a solid story. There are many topics touched in the story, these topics can make great discussions. Some examples are: poverity, women working outside of the home, generational friendships. I can see why this story is considered a "classic" because the author did a wonderful job of touching on social issues. The setting in Minnesota interested me because I have driven through some of the tow...more
Laurel Bradshaw
From back of book:
Lark Erhardt, the six-year-old narrator of The Cape Ann, and her fiercely independent mother dream of owning their own house; they have their hearts set on the Cape Ann, chosen from a house catalog. But when Lark's father's gambling threatens the down payment her mother has worked so hard to save, Lark's mother takes matters into her own indomitable hands. A disarmingly involving portrait of a family struggling to stay together through the Great Depression, The Cape Ann is an u...more
Sheri
I think about 4 1/2 stars is about right for this book. I absolutely loved it but would not call it amazing because I save 5 stars for a book that blows me out of the water! Very very cute 6 year old girl, Lark, is the narrator of the story. It takes place during the depression and her mother is strong and wonderful and her dad is a real jerk. He is catholic and lays all kinds of things on this little girl that she dreams and worries about.
The characters in the book are lovely and well drawn. T...more
Lori
Jul 03, 2008 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Lori by: my mom
I loved this book. The main character is a young girl, about 6 at the beginning of the book, and you see life through her eyes. The insights of the little girl are funny, too. Even though the book takes place in the late 30's, if I remember right, I could still relate to the small town Minnesota atmosphere as I spent a lot of time in the country at my grandparents' farm in Minnesota. It's a good, relaxing book to read at night. The sequel, Gardenias, which takes place mostly in San Diego during...more
Mary
Just the right book for a rainy day read. Faith Sullivan is a Chippewa Valley Book Festival author for 2011 so I am reading her books. This one is written through the eyes of a six, then seven and eight year old girl name Lark Ann. At times, especially in the beginning, Lark's responsibilities, her language, her relationships seen too mature for such a young child. Set in the Great Depression and extending to the beginnings of the United State involvement in WWII, the extended family struggles t...more
Debra
I did like this story! I felt connected to the women in this tale.... I fear I have felt and experienced what they did, in regards to men..... I want to know more... I want to know what happens next, now....It ended too soon.. there is so much more to the story!
Margaret
Jul 29, 2011 Margaret added it
Shelves: 2009
This was a good story - told from 6 year old Lark's point of view as she grows up in Harvester, MN during the end of the Depression/start of the war years. I enjoyed hearing about her struggle between what she learns at catechism and what happens in real life and her misconceptions about where babies come from was funny and endearing. Her pretend persona of Mrs. Brown fares her well in helping her to understand the grown-up world. This was lovely, amusing, poignant and a little sad at times - mu...more
Lee
Excellent novel set in Minnesota during the Great Depression. Narrator is a woman telling the story of her childhood during primary school. Great character development - one of the really nice things is how complex and realistic the characters are. By telling the story in the past tense Sullivan avoids the problem of attributing adult thinking and reflective insights to children-- something that really bugs me in some of the novels with "child" narrators told in the present tense (like Monkees)....more
Rainzen
Oct 26, 2008 Rainzen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I don't know what it is about this book, but I was absolutely taken to it by the second page and that doesn't happen very often.
I was instantly hooked to Lark and her intelligence and yet innocence at the same time.

Sadly this book is not well known but I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys good literature, this is a coming of age story during the time of the depression. It shares the story of a mother and her daughter deciding to stand up and take control of their lives.
Louise Behrendt
Loved it the first time I read it; loved it again. The story of five-year old Lark, growing up in Harvester, Minnesota during the depression, told from Lark's perspective; lovely in its description of the joy and simplicity in cooking and cleaning (yes, there is, too!) and pain in Lark's witnessing of adult events--a miscarriage, spousal abuse, and cruelty to a "shell shocked" WWI vet. Well worth the re-read time.
Dianne
I loved this book. If you like books set in the 1940's and about struggling people but a good story, you will love this. It will help if you were raised Catholic, not that it is a religious book by any means, it's just that you will understand it better. It is told in the voice of a 6 year old, a very wise 6 year. It is precious! It will remain one of my very favorite books of all time.
Dianne
Evie
Set in the Great Depression, The Cape Anne is a book of persistence and determination. Though the perspective is softened in a minor fashion by the main character being a child, the story still packs quite a punch as it pulls at your emotions. Anyone who went through a childhood where they later reflected that they didn't realize how tough times were will feel a kinship with this story and its protagonists.
Katharine
It was okay. A nice novel, the kind I call an "and then" book as it reads from this happened and then this happened and then this happened.

There was nothing wrong with it; I enjoyed it. I had to laugh in some parts and feel very sad in others. Sections brought back memories and feelings of my own childhood, and I loved how certain words and phrases could have sprung right out of my mom's or aunts' mouths.
Jenna
See what a child sees. Journey with six year old Lark through a few years of her life as she tries to understand the things happening around her. Learn how Lark gets through each of life's events from learning to swim and making new friends to the hardships of watching her father gamble away the family savings. Dreaming of a new home and pleasant life, Lark soon realizes that not all your wishes come true.
Donna
I enjoyed this book about a family's financial struggles after WWI and going into WWII. Told from the perspective of a six year old girl, it brought back so many feelings and perceptions of life from childhood. Many social, financial, religious, and family issues are addressed. I loved the way the characters were portrayed--they were extremely real. I was sad for it to end; wish there was a sequel.
Michelle Barnes
I've read about 100 pages and the story is going nowhere fast. I hope it picks up.

Ok the book did pick up a little about half way through and did have some really funny parts. But there was no real plot to the story, I didn't think. I probably wouldn't have finished had it not been a book club book. I think "mama" could have benefited from reading Love and Respect.
Dee Schwinn
It was a unique view of the depression through the eyes of a young girl. I wanted them to get The Cape Ann. I guess, though that was not meant to be. It covered many topics--gambling, poverty, religion, abortion, infidelity, war, growing up, child abuse, wife abuse, divorce, suicide....all from the eyes of Lark. I hope they make a go of it in California.
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