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The Cottage at Glass Beach: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Heather Barbieri

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8413143,474 (3.2)12
Member:smartchiksread
Title:The Cottage at Glass Beach: A Novel
Authors:Heather Barbieri
Info:Harper (2012), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Maine, beach

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The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

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Quick beach read. The story line was interesting enough, but the child characters, ages 7 and 12, were much too wise and perceptive, and their vocabulary too adult. The magical realism was clumsy. ( )
  phyllis.shepherd | May 18, 2014 |
The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

I loved this book about relationships, the sea, mothers, daughters, aunts, with a bit of magic realism thrown in just for the savoring.
Our main character, Nora, has found out that her husband is having an affair and with their lives in the Boston limelight, as he is in politics, remaining in the city with their two daughters is too painful for her to bear as they attempt/or not to work things out.
Nora and the girls head back to the island where she spent her early childhood before her mother disappeared at sea. Her mother's sister, Nora's aunt, still lives there in the family home and the cottage where Nora's mother & father lived until shortly after her mother's disappearance is still standing empty as if waiting for Nora & her girls.
Friendships are built in a short time. The philandering husband comes to the island a couple of times to check up on his 'wife' & daughters and to try to talk Nora into a legal separation so things can maintain the status quo with the 'marriage' & the girlfriend. Seriously...........how stupid does he think his lawyer wife really is? The girls become fascinated with the sea, boating, with the seals & other marine life. They begin to sneak to the sea, playing with a boat there on the sand while Nora tries to decide what to do with her life.
I really liked this book. I enjoyed the characters and the way in which they related to one another. I liked the bit of romance and the tautness of the storyline with the girls in danger of the sea. A perfect read for a summer's day. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Sep 10, 2013 |
The Cottage at Glass Beach is a beautifully written novel that centers around Nora Cunningham and her two daughters as they leave their Massachusetts home and take a summer trip to Burke’s Island, where Nora grew up. They stay at a cottage at Glass Beach. This is the cottage where Nora grew up, and the same beach where her mother mysteriously disappeared when she was just a child.

Nora's husband's infidelity is what prompted the summer getaway. She is at a crossroads in her life and having mixed emotions as she both hates her husband for what he has done and yet cannot completely break free from him. While at Glass Beach Nora reconnects with her estranged Aunt Maire.

I enjoyed The Cottage at Glass Beach, I like the mystery woven into the storyline. Aside from the question of what happened to Nora's mother, there's a mysterious stranger who appears on the beach one stormy night with little recollection of how he got there. He is a fisherman named Owen Kavanagh and he soon becomes a part of these peoples daily lives on the beach.

Irish fairy tales are a part of the story as Nora reads these myths to her daughters. Nora's youngest daughter Annie finds a friend of the beach as well, a young boy her age who makes he promise not to tell anyone about him. The mysterious events on the island continue as Nora's daughters meet an older man named Reilly, who is a native of the island and was there the day Nora's mother disappeared. Nora discovers hidden truths about her past and about her mother. There are plenty of secrets just under the surface, waiting to be revealed.

While I found myself drawn in by the dreamlike quality of the prose, I felt more of an outsider looking in. I didn't fully connect with any of these characters. I felt like there was too much bouncing back and forth from character to character and I was never fully drawn in. Owen washes up on the beach and when he and Nora begin to have a heated conversation, I felt like he was still this stranger and I wondered why she would even be having such an emotional connection to him. I would have liked a bit more character development on the part of Owen.

This is a novel about finding oneself, about facing the past in order to move on. I wondered what would become of Nora and her girls and the new people who had come into their lives. The ending of the story surprised me.

As I said, the writing captivated me and I could easily envision the sights and sounds of Burke’s Island. I loved the beach side setting and the way the ocean and the mysteries it contains were woven into the plot. I think the author was inspired by one of my favorite novels, Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

"She understood that now. That this was part of a journey begun years ago, left incomplete, the site of her abandonment, of beginnings and ends. The island had been waiting for her. Everything circles back on itself in the end, she thought. Everything is connected. The geography of the land, and of the soul."
p. 301, The Cottage at Glass Beach

disclaimer:
This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, such as this one, I am under no obligation to write a positive review.
I received a free review copy of The Cottage at Glass Beach as part of a virtual book tour in exchange for an honest review.
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-cottage-at-glass-beach.html ( )
  bookworm_naida | May 26, 2013 |
Very coastal Maine. About a woman who retreats to her family's cottage with her daughters after her philandering charming politician husband puts them in the media's eye. She learns some secrets about her family, bonds with an aunt, and possibly gets romantic with marine life. Not quite sure. The Celtic supernatural element was rather mystically vague and the ending felt unfinished. By the author of The Lacemakers of Glenmara. For those who like a little Celtic supernatural with their beach read. ( )
  amanderson | Mar 31, 2013 |
From the cover blurb, I was a little hesitant. I was afraid it would be another romance set on a beach. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case. It was part coming home novel, part mystery, with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in. The mystery unveils itself a little at a time, and keeps you guessing up to the very last page. I must say that I found Ela to be a bit irritating, and unlikable. As mother of a daughter, I feel guilty saying this, but it is true. She seems totally unreachable. I found myself thinking, "Well send her to her dad!! Get her some counseling! Just get her out of this story!" Sorry, Ela, but you're a selfish brat. Some of her actions were justifiable, but seriously, the child needed counseling. I can understand her being upset about her parents' separation, but she took it too far. The fact that both parents were so caught up in themselves that they couldn't see the child was mentally unstable was, sadly believable in this day and age. All in all, it was a good read. Plenty of twists and turns. Not boring at all.

Read this book if....
*you love mysteries
*you love stories with a beach/ island setting
*you love stories about survival after divorce / separation
*you love stories with a supernatural element

from my blog: http://freespiritbooks.blogspot.com ( )
  smartchiksread | Jan 23, 2013 |
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Epigraph
The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. - Kate Chopin
Dedication
In memory of my mother, Michelle LeMay Doran.
First words
Don't be afraid.
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Book description
Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, forty-year-old Nora Keane is a picture-perfect political wife and doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she - along with the rest of the world - learns of her husband Malcom's infidelity. Humiliated, hurt, hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters - Annie, seven, and Ella, twelve - and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides. Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades - not since that long-ago smmer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night, while sitting alone on Glass Beach, below the cottage where she spent her childnood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman, Owen Kavanagh, shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt's friend Polly suffests, a selke, a mythical being of island legend, summoned by her heartbreak; or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles? Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own, a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course-and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past. (ARC)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062107968, Hardcover)

The Cottage at Glass Beach

Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and a doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcolm.

Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters—Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve—and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.

Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades—not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt's friend Polly suggests, a selkie—a mythical being of island legend—summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?

Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own—a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:48 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Learning of the infidelity of her husband, Nora Cunningham packs up her daughters--Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve--and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine where her mother disappeared at sea long ago. Just as Nora begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own--forcing Nora to finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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