Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > The Cottage At Glass Beach

The Cottage At Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri
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's review
May 14, 12

bookshelves: arc-are, blog-reviews
Read from May 12 to 13, 2012 — I own a copy

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of The Cottage At Glass Beach, particularly because it hints at mystery and magical realism. It's a combination of elements that I delight in and are guaranteed to attract my interest. Unfortunately, I was left distinctly underwhelmed by this novel, which couldn't quite resolve into the enchanting read I hoped it would be.
While I quite liked the storyline, which is accurately described in the blurb, little was actually resolved by the end of the novel. The larger questions are left unanswered and I think some readers may dislike the ambiguity of those answers that are provided.
I found I wasn't really able to really identify with Nora, whose passivity was draining. She rarely initiated anything despite expressing the desire to deal with her husband, and solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance and her air of detachment from everything going on around her is something that I found off putting. While I really liked the way Barbieri portrayed the sibling relationship between Ella and Annie, individually they were just a touch too precocious, though Annie is sweet and Ella plays the part of a stroppy preteen well. Aunt Maire was my favourite character, her warmth, her regrets, her memories served to create a well rounded character that gave depth to the absent character of Norah mother, Maeve. Surprisingly Owen barely registers, he is absent from much of the story both physically and emotionally.
What I mostly struggled with while reading, was the overly formal tone of the novel. There were instances of lyrical, evocative phrasing, particularly in the descriptions of the island landscape, but the author was unable to sustain this through the book. The dialogue was often stilted, and overall The Cottage At Glass Beach just never seems to quite find its rhythm.
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