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The Cape Ann

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  1,209 Ratings  ·  142 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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Feb 02, 2016 Suzy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Suzy by: Star Tribune
4 1/2 stars

Step into 6-year-old Lark Erhardt's world for a while and meet her parents, Arlene and Willie, her friends, her extended family and the townspeople of Harvester, Minnesota at the end of the depression in the late 1930's. Sullivan paints a such a vivid picture of small town Midwest America told through Lark's eyes that you feel you know these people, their day-to-day lives, their strengths and foibles and their concerns, large and small, and that you are somehow a part of their communi
Jul 11, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Faith Sullivan's The Cape Ann" is a rich tapestry of characters, plot, and genuine emotion. The novel is written from the perspective of little Lark Erhardt, and Sullivan writes believably in this character throughout the novel. Your heart will ache for the members of the sleepy Minnesota town. In particular, you will feel for Hilly, war hero whose shell shock leaves him mentally damaged but whose heart remains intact, as he struggles to please all around him.

"The Cape Ann" invokes intense emot
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".

May 30, 2016 Bibi rated it really liked it
I rushed to read this book after reading Goodnight Mr. Wodehouse which is also by the same author. Both of these books are set in the fictional town of Harvester in Minnesota. Many of the same characters can be found in both books. The Cape Ann was copyrighted in 1988 and covers a period of approximately 2 years while Goodnight Mr. Wodehouse, published in 2015 moved the story along to 1961 and covers several decades. Each book can be read independently; Goodnight Mr. Wodehouse focused on Nell St ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Because I recently read Faith Sullivan’s “Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse,” I followed with this novel because Nell Stillman, the protagonist, is closely connected to the principal characters in “The Cape Ann.” Nell, now retired from teaching third grade, whose long, challenging years have been sustained by her reading life, continues to care for her almost 40 year old son, Hilly, the young soldier who returned to Harvester, Minnesota, suffering from shell shock after WWI.

Lark Erhardt is the six-year
Jan 23, 2016 Candice rated it really liked it
I was inspired to read this after reading Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse. Set in the same fictional town of Harvester, MN, this earlier book visits some of the same characters. Narrated by Lark Ehrhart who is 6 when the book begins and 8 when it ends, it gives a child's perspective on growing up in a small town in the late 1930s to early 1940s. Lark is a charming narrator whose youthful perspective on life is at times heartbreaking and at times amusing. My heart ached for her and her mother Arlene as ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Debbie rated it really liked it
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.
Suanne Laqueur
Mar 14, 2016 Suanne Laqueur rated it it was amazing
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 and I'll be reading more by this author.
Laura Lepovetsky
Oct 05, 2016 Laura Lepovetsky rated it really liked it
Cape Ann, Massachusetts was my favorite place to vacation. When I saw this book at the library, it had to come home with me. Although the story has nothing to do with my vacation spot, I found a treasure between the covers! I loved this book.

I won't go into detail, as I've seen many others already have, but I do highly recommend this book. I'd have given it 5 stars except for the ending. I felt a little let down with it, but in thinking about it...I see that Ms Sullivan leaves the rest to us...a
Apr 29, 2010 Mona rated it really liked it
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
Lynnee Argabright
What a surprisingly perfect little book! For my taste, it was the right pace, had realistic characters and dialogue, thoughtful narration from the eyes of an intelligent 5-8 year old, and phenomenally beautiful (without showing off) style. The cover and title make it so easy to blend in with everything else, but this book from the 1980s is so good. While I am not convinced it's my favourite book, I thoroughly enjoyed and respect it. It is a beautiful book recommendation and a book that I would r ...more
May 20, 2014 Cecilia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: borrowed-from
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
I was intrigued by the description of this book and reading from a child's (Lark) perspective. It wasn't the feel good book I expected it to be, and it certainly didn't end like I thought it would from the description.

Lark is a 6 year old girl attending catholic school and living at the railroad depot with her parents during the depression era; her mom is very independent and strong and her father is an abusive gambling-addict. Her family is dysfunctional, and I felt that many of the men in the
Sep 10, 2016 Patty rated it liked it
I struggled a bit with the 6 year old narrator as she sounded to mature for her age. I was heartened by her mothers courage and always doing the right thing. Saddened by her fathers rough treatment of 6 year old Lark. Beating her for biting her fingernails??? Because the didn't look pretty like a lady's fingernails should???!!! I just could never reconcile myself to Willies behavior. It annoyed me to experience his ignorance through the eyes of his daughter. The ending had a good vibe.
Dec 28, 2014 Wendy rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2016 Rahni rated it liked it
Probably 3.5 stars. A well-told tale that I mostly enjoyed, capturing a place and time (Minnesota in the early 30's) that I don't often read about. It reminds me of a thought I just encountered quoted in the last book I read that posited that, most of the time, childhood is not the carefree, innocent time that adults whitewash in their nostalgic reminiscences. I think that Ms. Sullivan often succeeded in telling a story from a had-to-grow-up-too-fast 6-year-old's perspective, but I was still reg ...more
Lisa A. Carlson
Oct 17, 2015 Lisa A. Carlson rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa A. by: Star Tribune
Shelves: fiction
Minneapolis, MN Author Faith Sullivan is the kind of writer who elevates the character narrative to the point where many of her voices are people who are naturally familiar to all of us. Set in a fictitious town in Minnesota this novel revolves around a young girl, her mother, father and the people who touch their daily lives. I must in part have been living under a literary rock because I had not heard of her until the Star Tribune featured her last month. The Cape Ann reminds us of human natur ...more
Dale Barlow
Dec 02, 2014 Dale Barlow rated it it was amazing
1st in a series of (so far) three books; a rather well to do woman marries a railroad station manager & they have a 6-year old child who still sleeps in the baby crib in the parents bedroom throughout this story (which ends with the child being 8-years old). Mother wants a home but every time headway is made re: saving money, father gambles it away. The mother has a sister in a bad marriage as well, but that husband has moved on to the state of CA in hopes that he will ask the sister to come ...more
Apr 11, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 23, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2009 Jane rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2015 Margi rated it liked it
This is Lark's coming-of-age story which starts in Harvester, MN and ends up on the road to Long Beach, CA. Lark lives in the back of the train depot where her father is employed. Her father is abusive and Lark very often escapes into her books and daydreams to deal with this and her parent's arguing. The story takes place in the 30's and 40's and the story's setting is very accurate. Lark and her mother dream of their own home, #127, the Cape Ann. It seems as though they will never get the mone ...more
May 27, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it
Drat! I only had time to read half of it and it's not renewable at the library so I'm back on the waiting list (32 ahead of me) It is obviously a very popular book. I am not surprised. Reading Sullivan's Gardenias first wasn't a problem. Her storytelling is captivating. I look forward to finishing The Cape Ann and will put myself on the waiting list at my library so I can stand in line for her other books. Well, worth the wait.

My rating is a "so-far" rating and I don't expect my opinion to chang
Mar 06, 2016 Terry rated it it was amazing
Having thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Sullivan’s “Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse,” I decided to make 2016 my “Year of Faith” and am reading other novels by her, or novels mentioned in her novels, like those by P.G. Wodehouse. I decided to start at the beginning of Ms. Sullivan’s work, so picked up “The Cape Ann.” I was a little worried at first as the characters in this novel were all in “Goodnight, Mr. Wodehouse,” and I knew what was going to become of them all. However, due to Ms. Sullivan’s skill as a writ ...more
Oct 14, 2008 Claudia rated it liked it
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
Jul 27, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2010 Stephanie rated it liked it
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
Aug 14, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it
Shelves: book-discussion
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
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
Jul 16, 2009 Sheri rated it really liked it
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
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