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Monterey Bay

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  143 reviews
A beautiful debut set around the creation of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium—and the last days of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row

In 1940, fifteen year-old Margot Fiske arrives on the shores of Monterey Bay with her eccentric entrepreneur father. Margot has been her father’s apprentice all over the world, until an accident in Monterey’s tide pools drives them apart and
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published July 19th 2016 by Penguin Press
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Myndi It isn't. That's a liberty she took during the writing of the book. That is my favorite park ever, a park that defines my childhood, and I immediately…moreIt isn't. That's a liberty she took during the writing of the book. That is my favorite park ever, a park that defines my childhood, and I immediately checked to make sure that the train I'd climbed on a million times as a child hadn't killed Ricketts! It didn't. I believe I found somewhere the author was asked that question and she confirmed it was a fictionalized detail.(less)

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Average rating 3.15  · 
Rating details
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Elyse  Walters
Mar 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I can't think of a book I was looking forward to reading more than "Monterey Bay".
My hopes were high.... Possibly a little too over-zealous! I'm in Monterey or Carmel often on weekends....hiking, at the beach, or at our friends.
I have more photos stored on my iPhone of Monterey and Carmel than of any other place in California.
Our family had a membership at the Bay Aquarium for about 15 years - starting with the opening weekend --Oct. 20, 1984. ( our daughter just turned 3 years old--Oct. 1st).
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this book for a few reasons - it is on the Tournament of Books longlist for 2017, and I always scan through that looking for interesting titles; the location is not far from where I was born, and I love all things ocean; the connection to Steinbeck, albeit a Steinbeck I've not yet read. He has been making a resurgence in my reading life in the last few months that does not appear to be waning anytime soon.

This story uses characters from Cannery Row, focusing on Margot Fiske, the daughter
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I most likely would not have picked up if it hadn't been on the Tournament of Books longlist. In addition to be on the list there is also a strong connection to Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

The book alternates in time between the 1940's and the 1990's. In the beginning the 1940's part is a very straightforward, easy to follow plot, the 1990's, not so much. It took me almost 200 pages of this to really figure out what was going on in the 1990's part. I don't mind confusion when I'm read
Mike W
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Margot Fiske has travelled the world with her wealthy father as his fortunes have waxed and waned with unique uses of agricultural and industrial properties. Now fifteen, Margot is used to an independent lifestyle, her father being too busy to do much more than acknowledge her existence by cooking a hurried, stand up dinner on some days. Having left their most recent home in The Philippines and arrived by boat in Monterey Bay, Margot is weary and her mood depressed as her father begins a new ven ...more
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelf-awareness
You'd think that a book about Monterey Bay with the title Monterey Bay would have a little more enthusiasm for the place....

My biggest problem with the book is the narrator. She's 15 and has everything figured out. She's a snot-nosed brat who looks down her nose at everyone and judges everyone and everything far too harshly. She doesn't seem to grow or expand as a person from 1940 to 1998, and her single-mindedness was just too single-minded. I do not care what she had a lady-boner for Ricketts
Kristen Beverly
The writing and descriptions in this book are absolutely stunning. But for some reason I just didn't connect with the story. I found myself not caring if I finished it or not. I finally just sat down this morning and made myself finish it off. The author can write - there is no doubt about that. So I'm looking forward to what she puts out in the future - hopefully it will be something that I can connect with a bit more. ...more
Jennifer S. Brown
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This fictionalized story of the beginnings of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is exquisite. The majority of the story is the backstory, as it were, to the Aquarium, the rhyme and reason for its existence. We delve into the life of young (and in a dual 1998 timeline, elderly) Margot Fiske in 1940, a complex woman whose brief affair with Ed "Doc" Ricketts, leaves a lasting impression. Her path crosses with John Steinbeck as well, although this is solidly a novel about a complicated young woman coming in ...more
Book Riot Community
Fifteen-year-old Margot Fiske arrives in Monterey Bay, California, right at the height of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, the novel that made the area famous. Steinbeck himself is there, hiding out at the home of Ed Ricketts, the biologist Steinbeck made famous. Margot manages to get a job with Ricketts, over the protests of the author and her father, helping Ricketts out by making drawings of sea creatures. But her relationship with him turns personal and puts the future of the Monterey Bay aquar ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreakingly beautiful, Monterey Bay is an engrossing tale of love – and what happens to the people, places and things we try so desperately to preserve.

The scope of this book is staggering. In 320 pages you meet John Steinbeck, his muse Ed Ricketts, and Margot Fiske, a driven, intelligent young woman who is unwavering in her attempts to make her place in the world; you’ll travel from Canary Row-era Monterey California, to post-World War Two Manila, and back to Monterey in 1998; you’ll see t
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Welllll, I was pretty excited that it was about the Monterey area including the aquarium. Half-way into the book I was concerned that the story would taint my love and nostalgia for the area. Upon some excellent advice (well just don't let it taint anything for you), I finished it. I never connected much with any of the characters, the story seemed a bit disjointed and flat. Vague descriptions of the area were disappointing.............the one upside - now I'm interested in reading more about Ed ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
When I read the description about this book I was very excited. I've been to Monterey, I've seen the aquarium and Cannery Row. I was all excited about the history of the place because it is beautiful there. However, apparently I had set my hopes in a different direction than where the author was wanting to take me.

The book was well written. However, I just had problems with the main character. She was the narrator and lacked any personality at all. And as I am not a oceanographer or whatever the
Kim McGee
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Margot has traveled around the world with her eccentric father and now they have landed in Monterey Bay California where her father is investing in a cannery. It is the 1940's and the heyday of Cannery Row and this is where she meets Ed Ricketts, a biologist who will capture her heart and his band of supporters none more than the outspoken and disapproving John Steinbeck. Margot has an affair with Ricketts that creates a wedge between Margot and her dad but frees the rebel spirit in Margot. Marg ...more
This book bills itself as a "creation myth" for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The creation of the Aquarium is fascinating in itself; it did not need to be turned into a story of hero-worship and unrequited love, a young woman trying to live up to and deserve a man more than twice her age and not particularly laudatory as written. It was also uncomfortable to read about Ricketts this way.

The parts of this book I enjoyed were the quiet background noise: The talk about the tanks, the discussion of th
Oct 03, 2016 added it
Having grown up on the Monterey Peninsula, I was immediately intrigued when I ran across this book. What I found was a book that hit all the right notes for me. It seems that Hatton and I were haunted by some of the same ghosts growing up in that area; she perfectly captured the feeling of the land and ocean and city as I knew them when I was young. "Haunted" turns out to be a good description of the story, as it is in many ways about how the events of our past stay with us throughout our lives, ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was grotesque at its best. The affairs the main character has at such a young age (with older men), the self - harm she occasionally partakes in with her pen knife, the porn photographs and drawings, the killing of many different marine specimens and alot more. It was very, very uncomfortable to read. I, obviously, loved the writing and that's what made me kept reading the book to the end. I loved the changing of time and point of view. Definitely a solid three star rating but un
Julie Dalrymple
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've spent a lot of time studying Steinbeck, and his friendship with Doc Ricketts always fascinated me. This book brought that relationship, atmosphere and history to life. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. It is poetic, creative and a little rough - which captures Steinbeck's Cannery Row well. It takes many liberties with the characters but overall is a solid depiction of the time and place and kept me enthralled throughout. ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I got my hands on an arc, but am not officially reviewing it. I really enjoyed it and will review if I get an official arc or when it comes out.
an imagined time and place spent with steinbeck and doc and the gang down on the water in old factory town , the young protaganist is a young woman taking her first steps of independence and sexual freedom and power. she trips
Cozy Cat Reviews
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book for all of us that advocate for the Sanctuary of our Monterey Bay. Its is a wealth of historical information that is interesting and fun about the Monterey Bay Aquarium creation and how we practice conservation on our Monterey Bay.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Nope. Don't bother.

It's a terrible 'history' of Monterey Bay and the aquarium. Doc feels like a completely different character from Cannery Row. The writing style is awful, full of unnecessary metaphors that make it take forever to get to the point. A simple early example: instead of slipping in to unconsciousness or slipping off after a head wound, Margo 'lets the universe knock her down'. Now imagine terrible lines like that for an entire book. I get that Hatton wanted to challenge Steinbeck's
Grace Sanchez
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to more details about how the Aquarium came into existence. This is a book where there are very few characters that are likable. One gets a good sense of Monterey when the canneries and fisheries worked together but not too much about when the aquarium launched. The main character is left to her own devices as a teenager and runs into some serious trouble. She was the only character that was described in detail in the book. I wanted more character development and more histo ...more
Margaret Bryden
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really had a hard time identifying with the characters of this book and their motivations. It all seemed rather pointless and sad in a way that is both dry and unimportant to you. Other than the eventual creation of the Monterey Bay Aquarium-which we all know happens- at the end of the book, the read was rather unsatisfying and melodramatic.
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting book. Being born & raised near there. & spending a lot of time there I was expecting a nostalgic story that would be comfortable to read. Instead it was a lyrical poetic intense story, beautifully written. Wasn't really about Monterey, Ricketts or the Aquarium. They were a nice background but it was more about Margot's thoughts, feelings, and place in her unusual world. ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved how the author wove the fictional/real life characters together. I loved the setting, Monterey is one of my all time favorite places. I enjoyed the imagined beginning of the Monterey Bay Aquarium with its creative roots with Ricketts/Steinbeck. I knew a little about Ed Ricketts and this just make me want to know more and to re-read Steinbeck.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous specimen of a novel! Seriously, the haunting writing and uneasy imagery pulled me in from the first pages, and my concern for Margot (so intelligent, so muddled, so deeply in trouble?) kept me flipping to discover where she'd land. ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable read
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
I don't often go into books blindly, but I am very glad I did with this one, as I seem to differ from a lot of other readers. I quite enjoyed this book, esp for the feelings it gave me.

I lived in Monterey for almost 2 years while my husband attended DLI, so while I'm not extremely familiar with the Bay, especially not it's history, it holds a special, often romanticized place in my heart. I think that in part led to the feeling that this book gave me. I read it over 2 days wondering why I was s
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book in Monterey as a gift for my mom on our annual family vacation. She read it that week and gave it back so I could read it. Two years later, I finally read it on this year's Monterey vacation.

I rarely read a book twice because there are so many great books to read. But this book... Hatton's subtle prose is so rich and nuanced I imagined going immediately back to page one after reading the last word.

Almost two decades of vacationing in this one place and Hatton tied together all
Leslie Rose
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lindsay calls this story a "creation myth" as it is a fictional account of the creation of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is also a story of thwarted love that unfolds across the decades. The story is told from the point of view of the main character, Margot and alternates in time from the 1940's when Margot, a teenager, first comes to Monterey, and the 1990's when Margot is an older woman and the Aquarium is completed. The story not only revolves around Margot & her father but includes non-ficti ...more
Melissa Osborne
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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