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Sea Escape: A Novel

Sea Escape: A Novel

Written by Lynne Griffin

Narrated by Tavia Gilbert


Sea Escape: A Novel

Written by Lynne Griffin

Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

ratings:
4/5 (8 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 12, 2010
ISBN:
9781400187980
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

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.
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 12, 2010
ISBN:
9781400187980
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Lynne Griffin is the author of the novels Sea Escape and Life Without Summer, and the nonfiction parenting guide, Negotiation Generation. Her third novel, The Last Resort, will be published by Simon & Schuster in fall 2012. She lives outside Boston with her family. Visit her online at www.LynneGriffin.com.


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Reviews

What people think about Sea Escape

3.9
8 ratings / 8 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    "A thoughtful and deeply moving but complicated love between mother and daughter from two different eras. The daughter uncovers the details of her parents' marriage, thru letters and between the spaces each line is written, and more secrets unspoken...and discovering a common thread of secrets mother and daughter unknowingly share. Characters you will despise and some you grow to love.
  • (4/5)
    I very much enjoyed "Sea Escape". My own mother and I lived together for almost fifty years. Ours was a fiercely uncomfortable relationship, alleviated with brief spurts of biting humor. When my mother became ill, and grew weaker and weaker, I continued to care for her at home. During this time, I also went back to college, worked full-time and cared for our numerous rescue animals. In "Sea Escape", I saw glimpses of my own difficult relationship with mother, noting that as I grew older, I wondered more and more about her past. A daughter will always question her own persona if she is unsure of the woman she calls "Mother". I highly recommend "Sea Escape" for daughters, mothers, and lovers of a good read.
  • (5/5)
    Thoroughly enjoyable---and yes, I did not see the end coming but I should have. I feel as though I know Laura very well and she is beautifully described through the emotional upheaval of dealing with her mother.
  • (3/5)
    Laura Martinez, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and neonatal nurse finds herself pulled in all directions and can't seem to prioritize her time. When her seventy-seven-year-old mother, Helen, has a stroke, Laura starts to feel overstressed as she juggles her various roles. While trying to find a way to help Helen heal, Laura learns some truths about her family history and searches for a way to make peace with her mother and gain hope for the future.Lynne Griffin's Sea Escape is an emotional journey that spans three generations of women. It is through Laura that we learn the current situation and the progress of her mother's recovery from her stroke. The past is revealed from Helen's memories of her parents and of her own marriage, and her perspective is augmented by the letters her long-dead husband sent her when he traveled the world as a soldier in Korea and later as a reporter.Griffin does a nice job with the shifting viewpoints and jumps in time. The reader is never lost, and the revelations of significant moments are well timed. The writing is vivid and moving, but unfortunately, there are several aspects of the story that are bothersome.In particular, Laura's and Helen's behavior is sometimes a bit unrealistic (can't say what without spoilers). Further, although most readers will be more than satisfied with the ending, some of us will find it difficult to fully accept the convergence of the plot lines as Griffin has written it.Despite some flaws in the plot, there is much to like about Sea Escape. It is easy to relate to the characters' joys and sorrows, and Griffin's descriptions of Helen's hospitalization and rehab are true to life. The novel will appeal to readers who are attracted to stories that revolve around families, marriage, and parent-child relationships.
  • (4/5)
    Laura Martinez is struggling to manage her career and relationship with her family when her mother, Helen, suddenly becomes debilitated by a stroke. Mother and daughter have not had the most successful of relationships since, after the death of her father, Joseph, Laura's mother has become distant and cold. Now it's up to Laura to bridge the distance between the two and discover the secrets of her parents' strange marriage. Drawing on a series of old letters from her father to her mother, Laura begins to trace the delicate faults in her mother's heart and comes to understand that, now more than ever, their relationship needs to be mended. Reaching far into the past, a dual narrative emerges focusing not only on Laura and her mother's painful relationship, but also of the early days of Helen's relationship with Joseph. Theirs is relationship marked with tenderness and love, but also with painful separations and deception. As the novel winds forward, Laura struggles to close the distance between herself and her mother while also juggling the feelings of resentment towards her husband and her frustrations with her children. As it winds back, Helen draws on her ingenuity and creativity to craft beautiful designs in fabric to take her focus off of missing Joseph and having to raise her children virtually alone. Tender and stirring, Sea Escape becomes a novel that carefully crafts the fragile bond between mother and daughter and shares the way that the tragedies of our past can affect us even today.Though I don't read much women's fiction, I did end up really enjoying this book. The two story lines blended together well and enhanced each other in a way that made the story very full bodied and well rounded. Sometimes when a book goes the dual narrative route, I find myself more interested in one section than the other, but surprisingly in this book that wasn't a problem. I found both stories to be entertaining, and because they dealt with such different issues, the scope of the novel was larger and more diffuse.One thing I have to admit is that I didn't like Laura very much as a main character in the beginning. She seemed very whiny and plaintive at times, and at others she could be remarkably selfish. Of course, there were moments when she could be incredibly loving and altruistic, but for the most part, I had a hard time getting close to her. I didn't understand why she kept losing patience with her husband because he seemed to be just about perfect. I'm not sure if this drama between them was an artificial construct to keep the tension running high in the book or if it was just Laura taking out her stress on an innocent target. Whatever it was, I didn't much like it. I do think Laura had some incredible moments though. She gave and gave to her mother, never shrinking back when her gifts were not accepted, and she was constant in her love for her children, which I admired. I just got a little tired of the "woe is me" attitude she had and felt like she wasted critical time being wounded and sorrowful when she could have been learning how to open herself to the love that other family members, like her husband and sister-in law, wanted to give her.Though Laura and her mother were very different kinds of women, as I read I began to see a lot of similarities between them. Both of them were strong and independent and felt that they could handle pretty much anything on their own. Both women were stubborn as well, making the same mistakes and butting their heads against the same walls over and over again. I think that although their passions differed, they had a lot of the same temperaments, and felt that they were both a little too independent at times, which made others in their lives feel unnecessary. I think Laura tended to be a little more high strung than her mother, but both let emotion run very high in their lives and let their emotions rule them at times. It was interesting to see how different the women were, while still being the same. I think this is one of the reasons they had so much trouble connecting with one another.A lot of this book is about the spirit of forgiveness and the need to let go of resentment. It was a constant theme in the book, from the relationship between Helen and Joseph to the later struggles between mother and daughter. I think the book dealt with this nicely. When is it okay to let go and forgive, and when do you stop the recrimination, not only towards others, but towards yourself? This story held many secrets that, once revealed, had the capacity to heal the people who kept them hidden and the people to whom they were revealed. The book spoke about the the road not taken and the dreams left behind. One of the things I found most interesting was the way the characters dealt with their secrets and lost desires. They all were alike in that they kept these things hidden, and buried them so deeply inside themselves that they were almost forgotten, leaving only feelings behind as painful reminders.I also really liked the sections in the book that dealt with Helen's sewing. Helen specialized in creating curtains and window dressings, and though I have never tried my hand at that particular craft, I thought it was interesting to hear about the interesting creations she was working on. Her main motivation for doing these things was not only to earn money while her husband was away, but to dress up a rather shabby life and to give her husband something special every time he came into town. Though she abandons her sewing after Joseph dies, later sections of the book find her once again picking up her needles to share her gift with a special family member. I loved that I was able to live vicariously through these sections and get lost in the descriptions of fabrics and thread and the creations that came from loving and talented hands.I think that this would make a great read for those who gravitate towards women's fiction and also for those who like character driven novels. I think this is my first foray into this genre, and although I had some quiet niggles with the main character, I found the book very diverting and well constructed. I think the author did a wonderful job working so many different themes and ideas into her tale and felt that there was a real cohesion between all the aspects of the story. I am glad to have given this book a try and I am looking forward to reading another of the author's books, Life Without Summer.
  • (4/5)
    Laura Martinez longs to restore the closeness she once had with her mother, Helen. But Helen seems to live mostly in the past, encased in her beautiful home by the sea, reading long ago love letters from Laura’s father who died many years ago. Helen is remote, cold at times, and critical. It is only Laura’s ten year old son Henry who seems to touch her heart. When Helen suffers from a stroke, Laura finally feels as though she can be of use to her mother, and maybe, just maybe, find a way back to her.Lynne Griffin’s novel Sea Escape is set on the coast of Massachusetts and introduces readers to two women – Laura and Helen – and their difficult relationship. The book opens on the day of Helen’s stroke, then winds it way backwards through flashbacks to Helen’s earlier life as a young woman who turns to sewing beautiful fabrics together in order to create her dream home. Slowly, Griffin begins to uncover the essence of who Helen is and how her marriage to Joseph, a journalist who is away more than at home, helped shape her. Griffin alternates between Helen’s story from the past and Laura’s memories of her childhood, to bring the story full circle.Neither woman is particularly likable at the beginning of the novel, especially Helen who is seen initially only through Laura’s eyes. But, with the flashbacks told in Helen’s point of view, the reader begins to understand the barriers Helen has erected which are fueled by her unresolved grief. Likewise, Laura’s desire to be perfect – running herself into the ground to be the best wife, mother, and daughter – starts to make sense. As Helen lays in a hospital bed, Laura begins to read her father’s letters – letters which hold the key to her parent’s marriage and secrets long buried. By uncovering her parent’s history together, Laura begins to put her own life and needs into perspective.Sea Escape is the type of book that delves deeply into the lives of women – their challenges, desires, fears, and relationships. It is also a book about mothers and daughters and the ambivalence that often develops between them. Finally, this novel deals with long term grief and the difficult road to recovery.I mostly enjoyed this book, especially the parts told from Helen’s perspective as she grows from a young girl into a married woman during the 1960s and 1970s when America was embroiled in the Vietnam War. It is Helen’s story that anchors the book.It took me awhile to develop empathy for both Laura and Helen – women who I didn’t understand until I was well into the story. At first I felt this to be a weakness of the writing, but later came to appreciate how Griffin reveals the danger of pre-judging someone before we know their history. It is easy to label a person cold, bitchy or uncaring based on their outward behavior, but only when we learn their life experiences can we grow to see why they might behave as they do. And it is through that process that empathy develops.Sea Escape is a good summertime read for those who like women’s fiction set in New England.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book. A great book about not only mother/daughter relationships, but also about family relationships. Having a mother who is a manic drepressive touched close to home in some parts of this book. Her characters come to life, I felt like I got to know each and every one. I enjoyed the home, "Sea Escape" and was longing for one of my own. This book would be great for bookclubs to discuss as there are many topics to touch upon, relationships, infidelity, miscarriages, and the devastating effects of strokes. I am intrigued enough by this book to check out her other book "Life Without Summer."
  • (3/5)
    Laura is in the sandwich generation--she's got two kids at home, a thriving nursing career, a loving husband, and a very difficult mother who shut down years ago when Laura's father died. When her mother has a massive stroke, Laura breaks her mother's long held demand for privacy by beginning to read to her the letters her father wrote to her mother years ago, describing their perfect love. Or at least that was always the story. As the letters unfold, a different tale of her parents lives and relationship emerges, and Laura finds she has more in common with her mother than she ever dreamed.