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. With the subtle wit, lyrical language, and brilliant insight into the human heart that has led her to be called "an author at one with her métier" (Miami Herald), Shreve weaves a novel about marriage, family, and the supreme courage that it takes to love.
Deceptive love and stark betrayal form the icy core of this dark 12th novel from Oprah-anointed (The Pilot's Wife), Orange Prize finalist (The Weight of Water) Shreve. Set adrift at 29 by the sudden death of her second husband (her first divorced her), smart, underemployed Sydney (no last name) signs on for a quiet New England oceanfront summer of tutoring 18-year-old Julie, the intellectually slow but artistically talented and strikingly beautiful daughter of the fractious Edwards clan. The family includes Julie's brothers 35-year-old Boston corporate real estate man Ben and 31-year-old M.I.T. poli-sci professor Jeff and the three children's parents. Sydney is half-Jewish, and Mrs. Edwards is anti-Semitic. Family tensions escalate when Julie disappears, then resurfaces in Montreal as the lesbian lover of 25-year-old Helene (a body surfer who frequented the beach near the Edwardses' home). Jeff and Sydney bond during their search for Julie, nights of passion leading to plans for a joyous wedding, which get very complicated when the couple returns to Edwards central. Shreve's devastating depiction of the family's dissolution the culmination of sublimated jealousies suddenly exploding into the open is wrenching. Shreve's omniscience is asserted with such ease that it often feels like she's toying with her characters, but her control is masterful, particularly in the sure-handed and compassionate aftermath.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An all nighter type of book!
I started reading this book and thought what a waste of money but then this whole new story unraveled and i couldn't put this book down. I stayed up till 2 am one night just to finish it. I was in tears from the last couple of chapters all the way to the end. Anita Shreve does an amazing job at writng an in depth book about love, feud between brothers, family relationships, and takes you on an amazing journey.
Ending was disappointing. The characters of the brothers were never really developed. I didn't even had a preference for one over the other until the end. I did like the setting and certain relationships that developed, but overall I was a little disappointed. It left me feeling empty.