I’m very pleased that I got to be a part of the TLC Book Tour for this book!* If you’re one of my regular readers, you know that I don’t usually accept ARC’s for review, but I have read previous works by Heather Barbieri and enjoyed them so much that I asked TLC Book Tours if I could be a part of reviewing her newest book, The Cottage at Glass Beach.
For simplicity’s sake, here’s the synopsis from the TLC page:
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 Malcolm’s infidelity. Humiliated, hurt, hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters, Annie, seven, and Ella, twelve, and takes refuge with her maternal aunt 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, 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 young 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 past.
Man am I a sucker for books set in small coastal towns. The Cottage at Glass Beach is no different. I loved reading about the simple life of the people living on Burke’s Island - the neighborliness, the fresh healthy food, the breezes coming in from the sea, the storms, the cottages… I would love to live in a town like this. And this town proves to be a great place for Nora to escape from the humiliation of a messy public divorce. She finds a true friend in her Aunt Maire, and explores what’s best for her and her daughters while putting together the pieces from her childhood.
I liked Nora, overall. She was the perfect image of a woman stifled by a hectic, busy life who rediscovers the simpler joys in life. Nora really tries to do what’s best for her children, and I respected that. I really loved Aunt Maire, cause she was such a sweet and spirited little old lady. Nora’s daughters play a large part in the story and while I really connected with the younger one, Annie, I couldn’t stand the older daughter, Ella. She was really ungrateful, mean, and just kind of a brat. (Although, I suppose this is pretty realistic of a young pre-teen girl.) I also really enjoyed the references to older times, and to the legends of the selkies.
My only complaint about this book is that I wish it had been longer. The 300 pages were taken up largely by description and by Ella’s whining, and it didn’t leave room for the story to completely develop or finish. I was left kind of confused by Owen’s place in the story, and I wish there had been a more concrete ending.
If you’re going to read a Heather Barbieri book, I highly suggest The Lace Makers of Glenmara, but The Cottage at Glass Beach is the perfect book to read on a lazy summer afternoon.
Sarah Says: 3 stars
About the author:
The author of two previous novels, The Lace Makers of Glenmara, and Snow in July, Heather Barbieri has won international prizes for her short fiction. She lives in Seattle with her family.
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The Cottage at Glass Beach was released on May 15th, so you can visit your bookstores or go online to purchase!
And the tour is far from over! Visit the other stops:
And thank you so much to TLC Book Tours for letting me a part of this tour!
* I received the ARC of the this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation or anything like that.