June 15, 2012

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Barbieri is a truly great summer or beach read about woman who finds refuge with her daughters on an island off the Maine coast. Her story is one that many women could relate to (at least to some degree), but it has an underlying fantasy side to it which makes it that much more interesting.

Book Description
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.” – The Cottage at Glass Beach

My Thoughts
The Cottage at Glass Beach is centered on Nora, who escaped to Burke’s Island with her daughters after she found out about her husband’s infidelity. He is a politician, so she wasn’t able to deal with this in private, unless she got away. Sounds realistic, right?

As someone who has never been to Maine, I can’t tell you if the portrayal of the town or people in it would be accurate, but I loved how she wrote about it, and she made me want to go visit somewhere in Maine one day. The fantasy aspect to the island is one of my favorite parts of the story, and without it – I don’t think this would have been such a good book. While on this island, Nora is searching for clues to the mysteries in her past, as well as discovering herself and deciding what to do in the future.

The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was how the author wrote the ending in too abruptly. Not everything was explained or tied up, so to me, it would have been better if she could have spent at least 10-20 more pages with the ending. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it for others to read.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Cottage at Glass Beach, Harper, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Steph said...

Ohhh sounds like a good book to read by the beach or on a trip

Selina said...

Agree! Sounds like one I want to read this summer.

Anonymous said...

Seems to be a good book with a twist that I would like too