Body Surfing

by Anita Shreve

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Featured image for Body Surfing

A fab book, deeper than some of Shreve’s recent work. She’s back in the same house on the New England coast that has featured in several of her other novels. This is good if you’ve read them. If you haven’t the exposition about the house’s history is probably a bit incestuous and certainly extraneous to the story here.

Sydney Sklar, only about 28 years old or so I think, has already weathered two marriages: divorcing an aviator who was likely to kill himself and being widowed by a doctor who, well, just died. She comes to the house as an employee, tutoring eighteen year old Julie, and gets caught up in another family’s web.

Shreve does place very well:- I feel like I know the coast and the sea here and I could have told you we were back at the same house before she did. The characters can seem a bit watery too, but I’m not really complaining. They don’t always feel like real people but I like them that way. I also like the way the writing flips between present and past tenses; it could drive you nuts but the device is used well and it doesn’t.

All in all: a good read.