28 May 2021

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

I'm down to only 3 Anita Shreve books left in her entire repertoire and I'm really hoping they're all a lot better than this one. I can't remember the last time I felt so bored by a story, and it has all the things I usually like! 

Sea Glass is about a freshly married couple in the 20's who are just starting to find their groove living together when the husband. Sexton, goes out on a huge financial limb for them to buy their house right before the recession. He then loses his job and has to go work for one of the mills where they're known for terrible wages and working/living conditions.

She is learning in a way she might not have for years what it is to love someone who is changing, and not necessarily for the better."

There is a lot of content about the rise and fall of Sexton and Honora's marriage, which, usually I would drool over. Honora becomes resentful of Sexton when she finds out he's lied to her about their financial status and driven them into poverty with bad decision making. There were some bits I really liked related to this topic but I was so distracted by other plot points that seemed to have no value. This whole book could have been about their marriage and Honora's inner monologue as she stayed home trying to scrape pennies together and I'd have loved it way more.

Some of the distracting plot points relate to the mill workers' strike. There are a lot of narratives brought in from the viewpoints of very random characters such as mill workers, neighbours, etc. and I still have no idea why they were included. There are also a number of handwritten letters from Honora's mother which I actually did enjoy. I think it would be so hard back then to send your daughter off to live with a man you barely know on her own for the first time some distance away. Just helplessly mailing letters hoping to get a reply and then hearing they're totally broke...

the strike in the novel actually did happen in the textile mills of New England in 1928

The book is set in New England in pretty much the exact same spot as Shreve's Fortune's Rocks, which I found strange as there was no character overlap and to my knowledge she's never referenced the exact same places twice. The mills where Sexton goes to work and then eventually on strike are a prominent setting in both books and I wonder if they had an impact on Shreve somehow.

This is unfortunately my least favourite book by Anita Shreve so far and I really hope the only 3 I have left are much better. She has a ton of amazing fiction novels that I would highly recommend but this isn't one.

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