Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: Safe from the Sea

Summary: Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota, Safe from the Sea is a heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father only partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since. When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other.  

Meanwhile, Noah’s own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility issues have marked her husband’s life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape.  

Peter Geye has delivered an archetypal story of a father and son, of the tug and pull of family bonds, of Norwegian immigrant culture, of dramatic shipwrecks and the business and adventure of Great Lakes shipping in a setting that simply casts a spell over the characters as well as the reader.-- Unbridled

Last weekend, Beth Fish Reads was telling me how much she liked the new novel SAFE FROM THE SEA by Peter Geye. When she described the book, I wasn't too sure it was going to be my cup of tea; however, I reminded myself that it's published by Unbridled Books which means I'm almost certain to like it.

So far, critics are raving about SAFE FROM THE SEA. It has already been named an Indieboud Indie Next Selection for October, a Publishers Weekly indie sleeper pick, and a Women's National Book Association "National Reading Group Month" selection to name a few. I have to say that I definitely agree. Despite my initial misgivings, SAFE FROM THE SEA was an excellent novel!

As is the case with almost every Unbridled book, the cover is just gorgeous. While I love the water and thought the scene was beautiful, I must admit that I thought this cover was geared more towards a masculine audience. It makes sense because the book is written by a man and is about an estranged father and son relationship; however, SAFE FROM THE SEA most definitely appealed to this female reader.

There are just so many amazing things about this novel -- the writing, the characters, the story and even the setting. Often times, I will say positive things about the first three, but I find that I rarely mention the importance of a book's setting. Well, in the case of SAFE FROM THE SEA, I think the setting absolutely made this book. Not only did I find the setting of the Great Lakes to be an integral part of the novel (almost a character in its own right), but I loved how the author incorporated so much about the Norwegian immigrant culture into the story as well as the shipping industry. I knew little, if anything, about these things, yet all of these elements seemed to be be a perfect backdrop for this story.

Probably what I loved most about this book was how well it touched upon a father and son's tumultuous relationship. When Noah learns that his father is ill, he immediately rushes to his side despite having not seen him for almost six years. Both men realize that they only have a limited time to be together, and they actually begin to talk to each other -- Noah's father even tells him the details about the shipwreck that forever changed his life. For the first time, Noah begins to understand his father and even forgive him for the pain he caused throughout Noah's life. It truly is a beautiful story about a father/son relationship as well as one about forgiveness and redemption. I just adored it!

This is Peter Geye's first novel and I have to say that I'm extremely impressed. The writing is superb from the descriptions, to the survival story, to the character development -- it's just so polished! I also loved how Mr. Geye explored family relationships as well as many other human characteristics; and I just felt like this novel was so honest and real. If you are interested in learning more about the author and his book, then you should definitely check out this interview.

SAFE FROM THE SEA would make an excellent discussion book for book clubs, especially male ones (but there aren't a whole lot of those out there.) The writing is absolutely beautiful, but the book also delves into many relationships such as parent/child ones as well as marriage. There is a reading guide available which explores some very thought-provoking themes including grief, loss, survival, guilt, fatherhood, family, and redemption. SAFE FROM THE SEA is just one of those books that is begs to be discussed amongst friends because it addresses so many universal life themes.

I really can't rave enough about this book (Beth Fish Reads was right!) It is an excellent piece of literature that is sure to stay in your thoughts long after you finish reading it.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Between the Beth Fish review and the cover, I'm about there. What impresses me is that you read her review and then just went out and read the thing. I rarely do that these days. I have so very little wiggle room in my reading schedule.

bermudaonion said...

Since this is an Unbridled Book, I figured it would be good - I'm glad to see I'm right.

S. Krishna said...

Wow, glad you enjoyed this one! Maybe I'll have to give it a read.

Mystica said...

I went to the link you mentioned and both your reviews are so positive! Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

good reviews, might try this one.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I only read the last two lines of your review because I just found out I'll receive it from LTER - yay! The author is coming to the Indie near me in a couple of weeks. Yay! Glad to see your rave review.

Beth F said...

Thanks for the shout-out. Now that my review is up I can come back and read yours. It's almost impossible to write about the impact of this book. This one is definitely in my top 5 of the year.

And I'm so glad you could relate to the setting. I grew up on the Lakes and it was completely familiar to me.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I read Beth Fish's review just this morning - you both have me adding SAFE FROM THE SEA to my wish list. I agree with some of the other commenters - forget the Good Housekeepin seal of approval,if it's from Unbridled Books you know it's a winner!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad this one surprised you. I've seen all the buzz and I'm hoping I'll enjoy it, too, though I don't usually read books heavy on the water themes. I was even hesitant to read Darcy's Voyage because of that and you know how much I love all things Austen. ;)