Pages: 304 pgs
Genre: Romance-Women’s Fiction, Family Drama
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
Summary (from Publisher):
Acclaimed novelist and nationally recognized family expert Lynne Griffin returns with Sea Escape—an emotional, beautifully imagined story inspired by the author’s family letters about the ties that bind mothers and daughters.
Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to her two young children when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in after the death of her beloved husband, Joseph. There, Laura hunts for the legendary love letters her father wrote to her mother when he served as a reporter for the Associated Press during wartime Vietnam.
Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words will have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother, a woman who once spoke the language of fabric—of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage—but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, she becomes increasingly determined to save her mother. As each letter reveals a patchwork detail of her parents’ marriage, she discovers a common thread: a secret that mother and daughter unknowingly share.
Weaving back and forth from Laura’s story to her mother’s, beginning in the idyllic 1950s with Helen’s love affair with Joseph through the tumultuous Vietnam War period on to the present, Sea Escape takes a gratifying look at what women face in their everyday lives—the balancing act of raising capable and happy children and being accomplished and steadfast wives while still being gracious and good daughters. It is a story that opens the door to family secrets so gripping, you won’t be able to put this book down until each is revealed.
I was not expecting to like Sea Change. I have not been in the mood for drama lately and this seemed to be exactly the type of book I was avoiding. It turns out that my reading moods are often wrong.
I love books about the homefront during wartime. It may be a flashback fascination from my History major thesis but the way that women manage their lives and make life go on as normal is nothing short of amazing to me. The letters from Joseph to Helen were so lovely and full of love that it was difficult not to feel a strong connection to their relationship. I found myself amazed at myself because of my attachment to Helen and Joseph because Joseph was mostly absent and Helen mostly in denial. It should have annoyed me but it didn’t.
I also loved Laura, Helen and Joseph’s daughter. She had to deal with so much with her mother’s stroke, her children and her brother. I had so much sympathy for her. She was clearly a gardener in a family full of flowers (to quote my lovely mother). I wanted to give her a piece of pound cake and a nice cup of tea (the solution to any problem) and just let her vent because she clearly needed to.
Sea Change is a beautifully written novel. I will come back to this one again someday. There is a huge shocker at the for anyone enamored with Joseph and Helen. It shocked and saddened me and that is all that this reviewer will say because I don’t want to spoil.