Georgia and Graham move back to Miami, where Georgia grew up, after they fall on hard times. They move into a ramshackle houseboat with their 3-year-o...moreGeorgia and Graham move back to Miami, where Georgia grew up, after they fall on hard times. They move into a ramshackle houseboat with their 3-year-old son Frankie, who is mute and hasn't spoken in a very long time. Georgia soon takes on a part-time job as an assistant to Charlie, a "hermit" who lives in a secluded stilt home in the middle of Biscayne Bay. Before they know it, Georgia and Graham will find themselves going through more changes than they ever expected when moving to Miami.
I saw author Susanna Daniel speak at a local book festival a few years ago, and was so charmed by her and the story of her debut novel Stiltsville that I immediately bought her book at the festival, had her autograph it, and looked forward to reading it. However I got bogged down amid so many other books that I had to read, and the book just fell off my radar beneath my other priorities. But I've never forgotten it, and it still has a place of honor on my TBR shelf in my bedroom (which holds the books which I most wish to read).
Now forward to 2013, and I get the chance to read Daniel's latest novel Sea Creatures, which also is about the stilt homes of Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay, Miami. I excitedly accepted the offer, especially since I live in South Florida (although on the opposite coast) and love the "idea" of Stiltsville. I wasn't quite sure what to expect with Sea Creatures.
Well, let me tell you, I was delighted. Some of the characters weren't very well fleshed out, like that of Georgia's father, but perhaps that suited the story, as her father was rather absent from her life most of the time, as he was often preoccupied with his own interests. But overall I loved the characters, and I loved the story and the setting.
Georgia is a strong, but somewhat confused woman, caught in a whirlwind and unable to get her bearings. She is doing her best, trying to muddle her way through the trials strewn in her path, but realizing that perhaps she has been going about it all wrong.
I found Georgia's husband Graham frustrating. He was hard to like at times. Of course, her son Frankie was suitably adorable.
But my favorite character was "the hermit" Charlie. An introvert, he realizes that he is better off living away from society and with minimal interaction with others, especially after a tragic event that left him shattered. He now leads an austere life in Stiltsville as an artist, and hires Georgia to assist him.
I loved Charlie. I loved his reserve, his social awkwardness, his creative genius, his hidden warmth. And on top of it all, he broke my heart.
I’m not a mother, but I thought that the author relayed a mother’s love beautifully, as she struggles to figure out how to do best by her son.
And there are times throughout the book when Georgia reflects on what motherhood really means, how it changes a woman, how her dreams and desires shift to accommodate the position. When once you may have done reckless and impulsive things, you begin to hold back, thinking of your children and the fact that they need you.
And mothers are flawed and human, and simply do their best, and often find themselves feeling inadequate and falling short of their expectations for themselves.
My final word: Why have I put off reading the author's debut novel for so long? After reading Sea Creatures, I am now eager to pick up her debut novel and experience her writing once again. She writes with authenticity and warmth and honesty, and her stories take place in my backyard, making me feel as if I've come home after a long, hard day and settled in my favorite chair with a cup of hot tea...and, of course, with a great book. Loved, loved, loved it!(less)
Since moving back to Florida years ago, I've been on the lookout for a great wildflower guide. I spent years in Washington State studying the local fl...moreSince moving back to Florida years ago, I've been on the lookout for a great wildflower guide. I spent years in Washington State studying the local flora and fauna there, and ethnobotany and herbology and aromatherapy, and I was interested in expanding my knowledge to the native flora of South Florida. I found a couple of books of interest, but nothing that quite fit the bill. Then I came across this book.
This book is a beauty! First there is the cover and binding. Thick, glossy, high-quality. Very impressive. The inside book cover has those handy flaps that are great for helping you save your place in the book. The book is paperback, but the cover is made from high-quality stiff paper that is going to hold up to field work and minor moisture contact.
The book is chock full of information, maps and diagrams. The state of Florida is divided up into four areas: Panhandle, North Florida, Central Florida and South Florida. It breaks down how to identify flowers by flower structure, flowering times, and distribution.
And although this is a wildflower book, it also describes Florida forests: Slope Forest, Upland Hardwood Forests, Mesic Hammocks, Uploand Mixed Woodlands, Sandhills and Upland Pines, Scrubs, Pine Flatwoods, Dry Prairies, Coastal Uplands, Shell Mounds, Pine Rocklands (Subtropical Pine Forests), Rockland Hammocks (Tropical Hardwood Hammocks), and Ruderal Areas (Disturbed Areas). And it describes Florida Wetlands in detail.
That's the first 78 pages. Then there are 400 pages of colorful wildflowers, along with trees, shrubs, and palmettos, all organized by forest or wetland area in which it may be found. Each entry includes a full color photo, scientific name, whether or not the plant is native, a description, flowering time, habitat, range, synonym, and any other comments. 752 plants are listed in this book, each one with a beautiful photo and description.
At the end of the book is a list of Places to Visit. This is divided up by habitat per county, and lists lots of national parks, state parks and wildlife refuges where you can go seek out wildflowers yourself.
My final word: Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!(less)