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Cottage by the Sea

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From bestselling and award-winning author Robin Jones Gunn—a poignant novel about a woman who must care for her ill and elderly father, hoping to mend both his health and their relationship.

A daughter’s gift of time, a father’s silent wish.

Erin Bryce and her best friend, Sharlene, count the day they start their wedding planning business as a very happy day. So much so that they name their company The Happiest Day to reflect the fulfillment of their long-held dream as well as their clients’ longing for a wedding celebration to match the exhilaration of being in love. As a bonus, the two women utilize their business to help Erin’s son Jordan and his fiancée, Sierra, plan a grand wedding.

But the two friends aren’t prepared for the cloud moving in to cover the sunny, successful start of their business. Erin’s father, who lives in a small coastal Oregon community with his brusque, downright odd second wife, Delores, develops a medical problem that puts him in the hospital. Erin responds by rushing from Southern California to her father’s—and oh, yeah, Delores’s—cottage by the sea.

What greets Erin when she arrives sends her tumbling down a bewildering path to a different kind of happiest day. Her journey tosses her through highs and lows of hurt and healing, betrayal and renewal, wrong assumptions righted, and the brightest future one could ever hope for. All just around the corner, at the cottage by the sea.

274 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 3, 2012

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About the author

Robin Jones Gunn

134 books2,092 followers
ROBIN JONES GUNN is the much loved author of over 100 books with more than 5.5 million copies of her titles sold worldwide. Her Father Christmas books have been made into 3 Hallmark movies. Her popular Christy Miller series now continues in Christy & Todd: The Married Years and The Baby Years. Robin's novels and non-fiction works have received multiple awards and are a favorite with book clubs and study groups. Robin and her husband have a grown son and daughter and live in Hawaii.

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5 stars
265 (36%)
4 stars
258 (35%)
3 stars
161 (22%)
2 stars
30 (4%)
1 star
6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 89 reviews
Profile Image for Laura de Leon.
1,041 reviews29 followers
July 19, 2012
My opinions on this book are mixed-- conflicted, even.

I have to start out by saying that I've been reluctant to read Christian fiction. One reason is that I really don't want to read a book that preaches at me. That was not an issue at all with this book. The other is that I really don't want there to be a shortcut, where God reaches down and fixes everything, and the righteous live happily ever after. This was an issue for me with Cottage by the Sea.

On the one hand, I really liked Erin and the way she handled a very tough situation with faith and strength. In fact, I thought all of the characters were interesting. I liked the writing in this book, and I felt it delivered the story as intended, with only a few exceptions.

I thought the book portrayed a very real, very tough situation, as Erin attempts to come to terms with the ups and downs of her past, and she tries to mend ties with her father who both loved her and hurt her. Overall, her reactions were exactly as they should have been.

So why am I conflicted about this book?

There is an early section where Erin describes her husband's history of depression. The book gives realistic detail about his sinking into a state which threatened her family. When she couldm't take any more, she turned to her mother, who told her to pray. And she did. And everything got better. By the time the book takes place, he is the rock she can rely on. And this bothered me. Because if prayer was the cure for depression, I know of several people that would be living happier lives. If prayer had given her strength, and pointed her to someone (a therapist, a religious leader) that had given him the help to fight his way out, with her by his side, I would have been very happy. But that's not what happened.

On the other hand, this was a bit of history, not the meat of the book. So I wasn't going to let it get in my way. And indeed, there were no more miraculous interventions through the majority of the book.

Unfortunately, the end of the book was riddled with them, situations which suddenly veered off the path that events were leading them to. Erin still suffered loss, but too many other things were cleaned up far too neatly for me, in a way that I didn't feel honored the rest of the events or her journey.

I'm not sure if I should just accept this as part of the Christian Fiction genre, and give this book a shrug, but avoid the genre, or count it as a weakness of this book, and continue to carefully explore others.
Profile Image for Karenita.
131 reviews18 followers
June 27, 2020
A sweet, gentle and realistic story about a life’s important decision. Move and take care of a father on his death bed or carry on with your own life. Heartfelt.
Profile Image for Joy Gerbode.
1,601 reviews10 followers
February 14, 2013
Wow! I am still trembling with the emotions! This is one of the best books I have ever read. There was SO MUCH to like I hardly know where to begin.
1. Each chapter began with an Irish blessing. I am in love with all things Irish, so this made it special to me from the beginning!
2. The protagonist of the story constantly reflects on things her mother said, or things her mother had written in her journal, and they were truly profound things, all helping me with my current journey to develop a more intimate relationship with God.
3. It was about an aging parent, facing his last days of life ... since I just put both my parents in a nursing home last summer, this was subject matter that really hit home to me.
4. There were depictions of one of the prettiest parts of our country ... the Oregon coast ... with it's beautiful sunsets ... but even descriptions that made the many gray days shine with a beauty of their own.
5. There were lots of people relationships ... some good, some not so good ... and many lessons for each of us to learn about those relationships.
6. It was a tender story of love ... between a father and daughter ... between a father and son ... between a sister and brother ... between a husband and wife ... between business partners and best friends.
7. There were a few comical moments ... MANY tears shed as I read the book ... delightful scenes and horrible scenes ... and the entire book can be summed up in this quote: "It's a brutal mercy when things like this happen. But you and I both know that if you dig past the brutal part, you'll find the mercy."

WHAT A FANTASTIC BOOK!
Profile Image for Ali.
299 reviews1 follower
November 7, 2012
I found myself frustrated by this book. I was excited with her starting her new business and wanted to hear how that was going to work out. Then before she even went on her first appointment she gets the call that sends her rushing to visit her father (which I would have too, don't get me wrong). While there we see that she hasn't had the best relationship with her father because he remarried and moved away after her mother died. He expresses in his way that he wishes she had visited before and she promises to come again soon. But once she is home, she finds other things that are more important than her relationship with her father and doesn't visit him or seem to keep in very good contact with him for the next 18 months. She finds out that he has had relapses in his illness quite a few times over the past 18 months and now is bedridden (for the past 3 weeks and she had no idea!!). She rushes up to see him and finds that she will have to be the main caretaker for him.

Mixed in with all of this are offshoots about her previously bad relationship with her husband, how her mother was perfect, her business partner wanting to sever their partnership, her step-mother leaving for what seems no reason, and what a horrible relationship her brother has with their father.

I felt it was hypocritical when she would comment about wanting to heal the relationship between her father and brother. SHE didn't even have a good relationship with her father.

I was frustrated by the whole business partnership topic also. I didn't see how that actually made the book better.
Profile Image for Lena Morrison.
413 reviews1 follower
July 21, 2018
I really don't like it when I feel like books are in between 2 or 3 stars. :/ That's the case for this book.

I like Robin Jones Gunn's writing, but it seems I need to be in a certain mood for reading. Robin's stories are usually more focused on emotions and deep truths rather than original plots and plot twists. That's totally okay, I think, but I feel like reading a book with a really engaging plot right now. That's why I gave it a lower rating.

The story was pretty good, and I felt the emotions were realistic. Robin knew what she was doing as she wrote. It was sad, but also infuriating how Delores acted (at least at first), but it was wonderful seeing how Tony came back.

I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a light and sentimental read. The rating I gave it is because of the way I felt about it as I read. However, I know that Robin's style is more ordinary and simple because of her audience. That's alright, but it just isn't for me.
Profile Image for Andi Tubbs.
903 reviews64 followers
July 10, 2012
Erin and her friend Sharlene have just started their own wedding business called The Happiest Day, when Erin receives a phone call that her dad has had a stroke, she rushes to the Oregon coast to see how he is because his new wife Delores is not at all what Erin believes is right for her dad. Her father tells her to go back home since she has just started her own business, she does. During her son Jordon's wedding reception which her father and Delores were suppose to attend she finds out that her father has had more strokes. When she arrives again her father is a shell of a man. This breaks Erin's heart. To her surprise her husband Mike, thinks the cottage that her dad and Delores have fixed up is quite appealing and the coast as well. This book hit home as a dear friend suffered a stroke two years ago and it's been hard to watch him suffer. I've known him since I was a baby. I loved how this book had characters from Love Finds You in Sunset Beach Hawaii.
Robin has written a book of healing and love. This is one you don't want to miss!
33 reviews
August 7, 2013
Loved it! For anyone going through the death of a loved one, or previously unloved one, this is a great journey of self-inspection and learning to put yourself in other's shoes.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,055 reviews136 followers
February 26, 2018
A daughter’s gift of time, a father’s silent wish.

Erin Bryce and her best friend, Sharlene, count the day they start their wedding planning business as a very happy day. So much so that they name their company The Happiest Day to reflect the fulfillment of their long-held dream as well as their clients’ longing for a wedding celebration to match the exhilaration of being in love. As a bonus, the two women utilize their business to help Erin’s son Jordan and his fiancée, Sierra, plan a grand wedding.

But the two friends aren’t prepared for the cloud moving in to cover the sunny, successful start of their business. Erin’s father, who lives in a small coastal Oregon community with his brusque, downright odd second wife, Delores, develops a medical problem that puts him in the hospital. Erin responds by rushing from Southern California to her father’s—and oh, yeah, Delores’s—cottage by the sea.

What greets Erin when she arrives sends her tumbling down a bewildering path to a different kind of happiest day. Her journey tosses her through highs and lows of hurt and healing, betrayal and renewal, wrong assumptions righted, and the brightest future one could ever hope for. All just around the corner, at the cottage by the sea.
Profile Image for Kate | KatesBookNook.
225 reviews12 followers
June 14, 2021
I’ll always love Robin Jones Gunn’s books. They always touch my sentimental and dreamy heart, and I love how she weaves all her stories together with cameos of beloved characters from other books. This one included Sierra from the Sierra Jenson series, Love Finds You on Sunset Beach, and many others as well as a quick visit to Glenbrooke and the Wildflower Café that you can read more about in the Glenbrooke series (love that series!). This one I only gave 3 stars because I didn’t connect with the story as much as I have with the others, maybe just because of the older age of the characters.
Profile Image for Gayla D.
36 reviews
August 8, 2018
This is by far one of my favorite reads. I could relate to Erin in so many ways as my mother had many strokes and I was her caregiver. How this author wrote this is exactly how I felt during my journey with my mother and her health. Thank you for putting it all on paper so others can read and possibly feel how it is to live through such an experience.
143 reviews
October 12, 2018
A poignant story about a daughter's decision to stay with her father after he falls ill. She must decide the best course of action because she's being pulled between caring for him, having him move back to where she lives and the fact that she just started a business with her best friend.

It was a very good read with a pleasant ending.
Profile Image for Mollie Dirig.
5 reviews
August 2, 2020
This was a hard one to read. It is a beautiful story that I can relate to on an intimate level. Having recently lost my beloved grandmother, being in the room with her when she took her last breath, reading about Erin and her father reopened that sore spot in my heart. Have your tissues ready when you read this one, it’s a tearjerker.
1,249 reviews8 followers
April 27, 2018
Isn't it amazing how you think you have things all set up for your life and your future and then just in one second, everything changes. i like this book because this is what happened, and Erin really learned a lot and was drawn closer to God in the process. Very well done!
May 9, 2020
I really enjoyed this book with all the emotions and phases a person/family goes though when health issues arise. The author did a great job making you feel like you were there or you knew someone in that situation.
217 reviews
December 19, 2020
A pleasant read. Begins each chapter with a lovely Irish blessing. A little too much Bible quoting for me, as I like people to describe their personal experiences with the oneness.
Beautiful descriptions of the Oregon coast and the feelings of being there.
Profile Image for Dorothy A..
264 reviews
June 15, 2018
I enjoyed this book and it was a very easy read. Very touching and emotional.
Profile Image for Laura Schrillo.
397 reviews2 followers
July 6, 2018
A sweet book about doing what is right even when it is difficult and the hidden blessings God sprinkles in our lives.
451 reviews
July 21, 2018
Family relationships are difficult. This book deals with them honestly.
231 reviews
September 1, 2018
A little heavier than the usual Robin Jones Gunn; however, still an amazing book!
804 reviews3 followers
October 4, 2018
Liked the Irish blessings at beginning of each chapter.
Profile Image for Natalie Moore.
68 reviews2 followers
November 5, 2018
A beautifully crafted, heart warming and tear bringing story of a daughter's love for her father.
60 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2020
Christian author- fiction book, easy read
Profile Image for Eunice.
335 reviews4 followers
October 10, 2020
Sad, poignant, hopeful. Have the tissues ready. ❤️ As usual Robin gives us encouragement for our Christian walk. 15+
6 reviews
February 17, 2021
Parts of it I loved and parts upset me. Without spoilers, there were some conflicts between the narrator and the antagonist that frustrated me.
Profile Image for Kathleen (Kat) Smith.
1,612 reviews81 followers
June 13, 2012
Two squeezes meant simply that I love you; three squeezes in return meant I love you too! That was the way things were communicated silently in the Bryce family, only Erin really needed this confirmation from her father which was always left with wanting more.

As Erin Bryce and her best friend Sharlene prepare for the launch of their new wedding planning business, The Happiest Day, she receives a phone call from her dad's wife, Delores telling her that he has had a stroke. Erin immediately leaves for the small beach side community of Moss Cove in Oregon to see how her father is doing. When he appears normal and back to the old self she remembers, she books a flight home and begins to prepare herself for her new business venture but also a future wedding for her son Jordan.

As Erin waits for her father and Delores to show up for the day of the wedding, she tries hard to keep her emotions in check. She blames Delores for keeping her father away and making all the decisions for him. When the day comes and goes with their presence missing, she phones her father's home and learns they are still there. Ready to unleash all her anger, Delores informs her that her father has suffered another stroke and this time he won't be returning back to his old self anytime soon.

In the latest novel, Cottage By The Sea by Robin Jones Gunn, the reader is drawn into the story between a love that is needed by both Erin and her father, Jack. Now with a stroke removing his ability to verbal communicate, Erin and Jack have to rediscover a way to connect after so many years and reestablish the love that both of them need before its too late. This is a timeless story of one of the great needs I believe a woman needs to have in her life, the love of a father and Robin does such a wonderful job at completing this through her novel. I was moved to tears by how well she made me feel for both Erin and Jack's needs.

I felt the frustration that Erin had toward feeling the care of her father was dumped on her shoulders while everyone else seemed to have a life to return to; her anger at Delores when she learns that Delores simply can not stay with someone who requires this type of care; and her crushing need to find a way to fix things between her and her father as communication between the two have a small window that seems to be rapidly closing.

The parts of the book I was immediately drawn to are the setting for the story, being a long time resident of Orange County in California, the reminders of the strawberry fields in Irvine, the John Wayne airport and the poetic way that Robin leads you into the story and magically paints a picture so well, you know it's real. Here's one of my favorite lines from the book, describing the ocean outside her father's cottage:

"Erin could now recognize the waves' varying sounds. She knew, just by listening to the intensity of the waves' roar through the open kitchen window, when they were crashing against the rocks and sending a spindrift into the air. She also knew when the sea was at rest, simply breathing in and out, sending the waves rolling to the shore and then curling them back. Today the sea was feisty. With a curled-up fist, it hurled the white-capped waves onto the shore. The salty avengers tumbled far up the sand before receding in haste and preparing for their next pitch. (pg 177)."

I received Cottage By The Sea compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Publishers for my honest review. This is such a beautiful book to describe the love between a father and daughter and one that Robin shared through her own personal experience. This one will tug at your heart strings and reel you in with all the emotion from words found on the pages. It truly will be unforgettable for me and one I will treasure. This one rates a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion and one that has found a permanent place in my library.
Profile Image for Victor Gentile.
2,035 reviews52 followers
July 6, 2012
Robin Jones Gunn in her new book, “Cottage by the Sea” published by Howard Books takes us into the life of Erin Bryce.

From the Back Cover: The Happiest day…may be just around the corner.

Erin Bryce and her best friend, Sharlene, count the day they start their wedding planning business as a very happy day. So much so that they name their company The Happiest Day to reflect the fulfillment of their long-held dream as well as their clients’ longing for a wedding celebration to match the exhilaration of being in love. As a bonus, the two women utilize their business to help Erin’s son Jordan and his fiancée, Sierra, plan a grand wedding.

But the two friends aren’t prepared for the cloud moving in to cover the sunny, successful start of their business. Erin’s father, who lives in a small coastal Oregon community with his brusque, downright odd second wife, Delores, develops a medical problem that puts him in the hospital. Erin responds by rushing from Southern California to her father’s—and oh, yeah, Delores’s—cottage by the sea.

What greets Erin when she arrives sends her tumbling down a bewildering path to a different kind of happiest day. Her journey tosses her through highs and lows of hurt and healing, betrayal and renewal, wrong assumptions righted, and the brightest future one could ever hope for. All just around the corner, at the cottage by the sea.

I do not know about you but I like the sea. I like the sound of the waves, I like to watch the tide roll in or out, doesn’t matter. Hanging out by a beach or shoreline is immensely calming for me. That’s why I like the title “Cottage by the Sea”. One, it is the sea and a cottage brings up the idea of a warm, cozy little place. Everything that Erin needs. Erin gets tasked with having to take care of her invalid father who has suffered two strokes and cannot speak. On top of that the stepmother decides to quit as she feels she cannot deal with the husband’s incapacitation. So in that environment Erin is tossed and needs all the help from the sea and cottage that it can bring. Ms. Gunn has given us a marvelous story of forgiveness, reconciliation and the special relationship between a father and a daughter. Every one of her characters seem to come alive and it feels as if we are intruding on this family as we watch the story unfold before us. “Cottage by the Sea” is all about families and relationships and that is what makes this book a winner. I enjoyed this book a lot and am looking forward to more from Ms. Gunn.

If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to www.kingdomhighlights.org where they are available On Demand.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Wynn-Wynn Media for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Lisa Johnson.
2,561 reviews35 followers
November 3, 2014
Title: Cottage by the Sea
Author: Robin Jones Gunn
Pages: 248
Year: 2012
Publisher: Howard Books
Note: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. Follow my other reviews at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspo... and on twitter @lcjohnson1988
What a great story! This is a contemporary work of fiction, but it is easy to see very real emotions and actions in very lifelike situations as shown by the characters. The main character is Erin, who is a 50-something-year-old, married, mother of three. She and her best friend, Sharlene, have been planning for 2-1/2 years the opening of their bridal planning business called “The Happiest Day”. On their opening day, they get their first client and things appear to be looking good for the future.
All of Erin’s life she has sought the approval of her father. Just once she wants to hear him say he is proud of her or that he loves her. Her mother has died about five years previous, and her father has remarried and moved from California to the coast of Oregon. He has bought a rundown cottage that he and his wife slowly renovate to make into a charming home. It is called the Hidden Cottage and it is right on a cliff above the sea. He moved there saying that there was nothing left for him in California, which is where Erin lives. Ouch! Also, her father has been estranged from Erin’s brother Tony for 20 years. However, throughout her life her father and mother have been believers in the Lord, teaching their children by living their faith.
A health crisis brings Erin to Oregon and into the company of her step-mother, who Erin sees as abrupt, controlling, and sometimes downright mean. How could her father marry someone who is completely the opposite of his first wife? Erin’s anger grows and causes her to make assumptions about certain situations. Erin begins to spend time outdoors in Oregon, appreciating God’s creation. The reader can see Erin’s emotions reflected in the actions of the waves of the sea. As Erin spends more time with her father, she begins to resolve her issues with her father and love him more. She also is about to drive her business partner and best friend to exhaustion as Sharlene must handle the entire flourishing business alone while Erin is in Oregon. Sharlene begins to make rumblings of discontent. Will they be able to work things out? Will Erin be able to keep her share of the business? Erin has a wonderfully supportive and loving husband. Together they make decisions after praying first.
This book has it all on the emotional spectrum: love, forgiveness, mercy, anger, resentment, commitment, and much more. The author has done a great job bringing these characters to life and making their emotions easily identifiable with the reader. The way all the happenings are pulled together by the author to make a satisfying story that pulls at your heart strings is wonderful.
My rating for this work of fiction is 4.5 stars.
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