Wendy's Reviews > Sea Glass

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

really liked it

New Hampshire, 1929, just before the Great Depression, newlyweds, Honora and Sexton Beecher, have moved into an abandoned beach house to fix it up and save for a house of their own. Sexton, an ambitious typewriter salesman, finds a way to take a loan to buy the house. However, he "has risked everything he owned on the eve of the single biggest economic disaster in American History."

Quillen McDermott, a loom fixer at the local mills, works hard to keep his younger brothers out of the mills. Alphonse, an 11-year-old mill worker, looks upon McDermott as a father-figure, following him around like a faithful puppy. McDermott and other workers are meeting secretly, talking of forming a union and planning a strike.

All along, Honora has made a hobby of collecting sea glass on the beach. "It's the individual bits that interest her, the ability to pick them up and let them fall through her fingers and guess at the story behind each one." Boston socialite, Vivian Burton, summering nearby, meets Honora on the beach and becomes a loyal friend. Losing his job, car and bank loan, Sexton takes a mill job to hold onto the house. "Something inside him would be irretrievably lost if he failed to keep the house that he had ruined himself to buy." Honora's marriage has been completely altered and strained, but she remains hopeful. The strike brings everyone together for a common goal, but it will also change all of their lives forever.

This was my first Anita Shreve read. I'm told the beach house in the center of the story is the same house that connects a trilogy of Shreve's stories, including "Fortune's Rocks" and "The Pilot's Wife," which I enjoyed the audio version. Sea Glass is such a touching tale of love, honor, heartship and friendship, among other things. A smooth and very enjoyable read.

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