5 March 2018

Manhattan Beach Book Club: Week 1

Our fifth book club! Manhattan Beach was the book I nominated for our March Book Club so don't kill me if you aren't into it. 

I'll explain why I chose this book: I work in recruitment for the university here in New Brunswick and we do A LOT of travelling - long hours driving and hanging out in hote rooms. In late November I was away for a week with a bunch of other recruiters from the Atlantic provinces. I got talking about books with a woman named Trudy and she told me she just finished the audiobook of Manhattan Beach and really liked it. All she really told me about the plot was that the main female character is one of the first women to dive for the Second World War effort. I was sold at diving. I have always been attracted to books where I will learn a lot about one activity. And I'm literally just one bad breakup away from picking up diving as a hobby, so... 

When I went to London, Ontario, to visit Meg after the holidays I also travelled with my boyfriend Ben (London is coincidentally his hometown), and when I visited his parents I was happy to see that his mom Laurie was also reading this book. I know his mom is a big reader so I felt like this was good confirmation that Manhattan Beach would be an interesting read.

ANWAYS, I will say I've enjoyed the first 50 pages.

I already feel like it has a bit of a We Are Not Ourselves vibe, but probably just because it seems like it is going to be a family drama, and the narration is switching between more than one character. 

I was mildly horrified that the opening quotation is from Moby Dick (our god-awful first book club), but that I have been really digging the constant acknowledgment of the ocean:

"Anna watched the sea. There was a feeling she had, standing at its edge: an electric mix of attraction and dread. What would be exposed if all that water should suddenly vanish? A landscape of lost objects: sunken ships, hidden treasure, gold and gem and the charm bracelet that had fallen from her wrist into a storm drain. Dead bodies, her father always added with a laugh. To him, the ocean was a wasteland." 

I can't help but wonder if this is a bit of a foreshadow into the role the ocean will play in this book... I mean we already know gangsters must be involved somehow, as they reference loan sharks near the end of our first reading section ... but I guess we'll just have to read on.


  1. I'm giving the first 50 pages a thumbs up! Liking it so far.

    1. So far (as Meg said) this book is reminding me a lot of Matthew Thomas’ We Are Not Ourselves (book club last year for the new folks). I’m not sure if it’s the time period, or because they’re Irish, or what. I am enjoying it but honestly it’s so depressing to read about poor people and how hard it is for them to make ends meet. I feel so bad for them, it makes me feel like a bitchy commercial-driven human for even having a lunch to take to work.

      I loved this quote: “Having such a daughter required the riches of a man like Dexter Styles- but did such men have children like Lydia?” And the answer, Eddie, is no. The fortunate are fortunate and the unfortunate continue to become more and more unfortunate. Life sucks.

  2. So, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm not quite finished the book (since I was reading it when you visited in January! Then I was sidetracked by some YA novels and whatnot -- so many books, so little time and all). But, being further along than you I'll be careful what I say here. I am enjoying the change in narration, especially when it comes to the description and relationships with Lydia. And the ocean -- it's almost like another character in the book!

    1. I've gotten a little bit ahead of our schedule too and the relationships with Lydia are really good (and obviously heartbreaking).

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