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Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye
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Safe from the Sea (edition 2011)

by Peter Geye

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1543377,562 (4.29)48
Member:Donna828
Title:Safe from the Sea
Authors:Peter Geye
Info:Unbridled Books (2011), Edition: First Trade Paper Edition, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:TIOLI Challenge - 2012, Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:12/2012

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Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
this book took me by surprise - based on the description, i would not have imagined loving it as much as i did - the writing was so mature and elegant that i didn't realize that this was his first novel - the characters were multidimensional, the descriptions were so clear that i could feel and smell the old farmhouse - the relationship between father and son and between son and his wife were so realistic, and, most surprising for me, the story of the shipwreck kept me fully engaged. a triumphant first work. ( )
  njinthesun | Apr 15, 2014 |
Truly enjoyed this.
Attracted to it because I had stumbled upon & read another book by this author(The Lighthouse Road)and because this has a major storyline of the Great Lakes freighter life and a barely survived wreck.
Traveling along the MI shoreline has made me fascinated by shipping life on the Lakes. That portion of the story-line is compelling as well.
I was surprised just how compelling this book was.
Family is complicated and fortunately these characters have the time and opportunity to discover each other with better understanding and find peace. ( )
  CasaBooks | Mar 14, 2014 |
Truly enjoyed this.
Attracted to it because I had stumbled upon & read another book by this author(The Lighthouse Road)and because this has a major storyline of the Great Lakes freighter life and a barely survived wreck.
Traveling along the MI shoreline has made me fascinated by shipping life on the Lakes. That portion of the story-line is compelling as well.
I was surprised just how compelling this book was.
Family is complicated and fortunately these characters have the time and opportunity to discover each other with better understanding and find peace. ( )
  CasaBooks | Mar 14, 2014 |
"Olaf nodded up at the sky. 'He taught me some things about navigating. Just basic stuff, but I was hooked. He said that a true seaman could sail around the world without anything more than a watch and a sextant and the sky to guide him. I didn't even know what a sextant was, just figured you knew where to go if you were in charge of one of those boats. I never reckoned there was any science to it. Wolf taught me how to take sun sights, how to chart our course, how to estimate our position using dead reckoning when the sky was cloudy and the shore out of sight.' He paused, cleared his throat. 'Now it's just a bunch of satellites telling you where you are and where to go. Back then it was still something beautiful to steer a ship." (pg. 62)

Noah Torr's relationship with his father Olaf has always been a tricky one to navigate. In this novel, Olaf's a crusty, weathered former sailor who is somewhat of a local legend along the remote northern Minnesota shoreline where he lives, haunted by his surviving a devastasting 1967 shipwreck that killed all 27 of his 30-member crew.

It's a story that Olaf has been reluctant to tell, but now that he's dying and his son Noah has returned home (ostensibly to "help him prepare the cabin for winter"), he unburdens himself of the secrets and guilt that he has carried for nearly four decades since the accident. In the process, father and son begin the rocky process of trying to understand and accept one another before its too late.

Yeah, the troubled-father-and-son-making-amends-on-one's-deathbed story has been done before, but it's a theme universal enough that it doesn't flounder in Peter Geye's hands as an author. For starters, Geye apparently knows his stuff (or has done a tremendous amount of research) regarding several key areas of the book. The descriptions of the northern Minnesota coast and its waters, as well as of boats and shipping and the shipping industry, are incredibly well done - not to mention the characters' hardy Norwegian heritage and Noah and his wife's Natalie's infertility struggles. I'd be surprised if much of this did not originate from Geye's own life - which is more than perfectly fine, particularly since Safe from the Sea is Geye's debut novel.

Moreso than the story and the writing (which seemed to me to be perfunctory and matter of fact, but is perhaps designed to be such to reflect the characters' personalities), Safe from the Sea is a story with a strong sense of place. As the reader, you absolutely feel as if you are right there in the fierce winter storm with the ill-fated sailors, even if you (like me) have barely set foot on a boat. Like Per Petterson's I Curse the River of Time (which I didn't care for much at all), you physically feel cold reading this novel.

(Our air-conditioner broke a few hours after I finished this and the temperature was a toasty 83 degrees inside our house. This would have been the perfect book to read under such conditions, believe you me.)

Safe from the Sea is one that many bloggers love, many calling it "stunning" and "gorgeous." I'm in the minority here and am not going quite that far (it's not going to be one of my absolute favorites of the year, as it is for many of my blogging peers), but it was a satisfying enough read for me, one that I appreciated, and definitely one that will make me seek out Peter Geye's work in the future.
( )
1 vote bettyandboo | Apr 2, 2013 |
Noah Torr is summoned by his dying father to said father’s cabin in the woods near Duluth Wisconsin. Olaf was an officer on the great freighters that ply mighty Lake Superior and in 1967 was one of only three survivors when his ship went down – comparisons to the Edmund Fitzgerald were, of course, inevitable in my mind. Noah is bitterly resentful of his father’s drinking problem and his ‘absence’ from his young life.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find this the “tautly written gem” that Joseph Boyden, one of my favourite authors, found. Geye has a powerful story to tell – of the night the ship sank and of the rifts and healings between father and son – but the book has more of a commercial, rather than literary, flavour.

I didn’t really connect to any of the characters—and was especially annoyed by Noah’s wife who gives him grief for being with his dying father, because she’s ovulating and wants him home to try for a baby. I mean, c’mon, his father’s dying and you’ll ovulate next month, won’t you? I was going to rate this a “4”, but decided while I was writing this on 3½ stars.

Read this if: you’re interested in a harrowing tale of how it just might be on a freighter that is sinking in stormy waters. ( )
1 vote ParadisePorch | Mar 20, 2013 |
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For Dana, of course. And for F.A., C.D., E.M.
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The officer stood the midnight watch, his hand easy on the wooden wheel.
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Book description
Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of Northern Minnesota. A heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father onlt partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since. When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other. Meanwhile Noah's own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility issues have marked her husband's life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape. (9781609530082)
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Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota, Safe from the Sea is a heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father only partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since. When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other. Meanwhile, Noah's own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward i… (more)

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