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Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

Body Surfing (2007)

by Anita Shreve

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1,758516,445 (3.27)39
At the age of 29, Sydney has already been once divorced and once widowed. Trying to regain her footing once again, she has answered an ad to tutor the teenage daughter of a well-to-do couple as they spend a sultry summer in their oceanfront New Hampshire cottage. But when the Edwards' two grown sons, Ben and Jeff, arrive at the beach house, Sydney finds herself caught up in a destructive web of old tensions and bitter divisions. As the brothers vie for her affections, the fragile existence Sydney has rebuilt for herself is threatened.… (more)



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Summer on the New Hampshire coast.
I originally read this book back in 2010 and only gave it 3 stars. Then a friend recently gave me an abridged audio version and so I decided to give it another go. The shortened version was more enjoyable and I gave it 4 stars this time around, maybe I was just in the mood for it - or maybe the full version lost my attention somehow.

Sydney is only 29, but has already been divorced from one husband and bereaved from a second. While she reassess her life, she takes on the job of coaching Julie, the not-so-academic daughter of Mark and Anna Edwards. They are spending their summer at the beach house - quite a mansion to be just a summer home - and Julie needs help to get her through her final year at school.
Everything seems fine until Julie's two older brothers, Ben and Jeff, join the family for their summer vacation. Jeff is involved with Victoria, a local girl he's known from childhood, and an announcement is expected. Ben is single. The presence of Sydney rather upturns the apple-cart and events proceed from there.

As others have commented, there was rather too much description of what characters are wearing, which doesn't really add anything for me and starts to irritate after a while. Otherwise, the characters were well drawn, even in the abridged version, and I'd completely forgotten the ending, which helped.

I didn't purposely set out to read all four books in the Fortune's Rocks quartet, in fact, I didn't originally realise that they were connected. I did, however, start to wonder whether the house on the New Hampshire coast that each of the novels revolved around was in some way connected; it seemed it was sharing its history with us through each of the novels. I love the reappearance of characters or features from previous works, so this was a bonus for me.

Fortunes Rocks Quartet (my ratings)
Fortune's Rocks (5 stars)
The Pilot's Wife (5 stars)
Sea Glass (5 stars)
Body Surfing (3, 4 stars) ( )
  DubaiReader | Aug 29, 2018 |
I like this book very much! I would have enjoyed deeper character development because I wanted to get to know the main character even more; she intrigued me. Or, maybe the circumstances of her life intrigued me so I wanted to know more. This was the first book I've read by Shreve and perhaps this is her style. That said, I couldn't put the book down and I've just purchased 'Testimony' by her and will review after I've read. ( )
  vickiayala | Sep 22, 2016 |
can't recommend. Sydney was written all over the place - she registered as several different types of person within the story, but none of those types seemed related to the next. i couldn't get into the story because i couldn't understand her motivations. there were characters that could have been developed more - Victoria was more of an object than a person, which didn't seem fair, considering how hefty a role she played in the story. i might pick up another one of Shreve's books to see how she deals with another story, but i won't be purchasing this book. ( )
  cyrenitis | Dec 2, 2015 |
I didn't warm to the main character, partly because I couldn't understand why she didn't work things out earlier - because I did. Stupidity never endears me to a character. Perhaps Sydney's attention was distracted by her manic vigilance - she notices clothes, how someone breathes, the details of a room and she even deduces what other characters are probably thinking. Whether she is right - another matter entirely. I'm inclined to think a character as naive as this one makes for a fairly unreliable narrator. Perhaps it would have been a more satisfying choice had Shreve decided to write from a more omniscient point of view. Instead, everything is filtered through Sydney's interpretation. Characters who obsess over what others are wearing come across as shallow to me, and led me to wonder if other people actually notice such details more readily than I do. (I think some do, some don't.)

I listened to the audio book, which means I wasn't bothered by the short paragraphs others have mentioned, but it still felt choppy and I wondered at times if I had skipped a chapter, or zoned out, as can happen so easily with an audio book. But I don't think this was the case.

The narrator did that really annoying thing whereby she changed her voice to emulate character voices, but for me it NEVER works when a woman attempts a male voice, or when a male attempts a female voice. I wish this wouldn't happen in audio books - instead, if voices are going to change, I prefer radio plays, which make use of completely different people. I'm not sure if this is a personal preference or if it's shared by many. But the narrator's voicing of Ben and Jeff resulted in a low, guttural, unnatural sound used by men who think they're hot stuff, and this didn't endear me to the men either. The characters of the mother and Victoria were voiced in a 'posh' voice, which I thought was overdoing it, because the listener can tell the characters of these women simply by what they do.

I did really enjoy The Pilot's Wife some time ago, but I didn't enjoy this story nearly so much. ( )
  LynleyS | Feb 8, 2014 |
a predictable story: there was too much negative future mother-in-law development. the mother-in-law is portrayed as cunning and mean but she was not cunning enough to nip the romance thing in the bud by not hiring the girl with the troubled past. of course the future father in law could do nothing wrong.
the girl is looking for anyone to satisfy her need to have a family,as sleep with him as soon as possible. if the first love doesn't work out, theres another waiting. i felt sorrow for the family she joined instead of the usual "and everyone lived happily ever after".
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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Whitney, Katherine, Alli, Molly, and Chris
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Three o'clock, the dead hour. The faint irritation of sand grit between bare feet and floorboards.
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