Friday, June 5, 2015

Beside the Sea; Veronique Olmi Page

Beside the Sea; Veronique Olmi Page
Tin House Books - 2012

Beside the Sea is a deeply haunting story of fewer than 120 pages that packs a punch.

A single mother leaves home with her two young sons telling them they are going to see the sea. Stan is 9, and a good son, polite, obedient and protective of his young brother, Kevin, age 5. Stan is always guarded and anxious to please his fragile mother.  With just a few personal items and clothing in their travel bags, and very little cash, it's evident that the unnamed mother has not thought things through before they leave home.

Instead of the trip to the sea being a happy event, it is anything but.  It's winter and the sea is angry and frightening. The flea-bag hotel where they find a room is disgusting, and during their brief stay, it becomes quickly obvious that the mother is troubled, depressed and anxious and her paranoia has only intensified.  Her children, especially the older son, Stan, seems to be used to her erractic behavior and understands his mother's need to sleep away some weekends while the boys amuse themselves.

The reader senses early on that this story is unlikely to have a happy ending.  I loved how this story hit deep into the fractured mind and the darker side of motherhood.  This is definitely not a book for all readers, but those who do read it will not forget the story.


4.5/5 stars
(library)

15 comments:

  1. This short book sounds quite good, Diane.

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    1. It was, but only for readers who do not mind the dark side.

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  2. I've been meaning to read this book for years! Thanks for reminding me.

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  3. Every so often I like to read books that explore the darker side of society too. I do need to be in the right frame of mind.

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    1. I'm weird, I even like dark when I'm feeling blue :)

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  4. I'm so pleased that you decided to read this one. It is so powerful! I don't think I'll ever forget it.

    It is interesting to see the US cover for this book for the first time. It is very clever. Just seeing those two little boys in bed brings tears to my eyes. It is a fairly average picture, but anyone who's read the book will appreciate the power of it. I hope your review persuades a few more people to give it a try.

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    1. Yes, you realize that the cover is so appropriate after finishing this powerful story. Thanks again Jackie. I bought several of the books on your list and wish-listed the rest.

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  5. Thanks for a great review Diane. This does sound intense. I'm going to add it to my to read list. I like that it is short.

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  6. This sounds like an intensely emotional read. I never have issues reading about the darker sides of society. They intrigue me for the most part even if some are more difficult to read. I'm going to check this one out.

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    1. Definitely intense. I am drawn to the darker side of society as well, even though I get depressed from time to time....crazy but true.

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  7. Even I can take a trip to the dark side when it will such a short one :)

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