Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Shining Sea, by Anne Korkeakivi

Review by JJ Marsh

What we thought:

With an epic sweep following one family over half a century, through loss, adventure, success and love, this is a story of adaptation. From the latter half of the last millennium to the modern day, Korkeakivi’s characters mature, rebel and learn to accept themselves and each other against the backdrop of unprecedented social change.

The Gannon family are thrown into uncharted waters when patriarch Michael dies suddenly at the age of forty-three. Identities and personalities thus far fixed need to realign and shift to fill the gaps.

Told largely through the eyes of Michael’s widow, Barbara, and her son Francis, their individual experiences are varied and character-forming, and vividly real. Francis’s sailing adventure in the Hebrides will stay with me a long time.

Woodstock and freedom; Vietnam and death; AIDS and counterculture; this is an evocative yet concise American novel of self-discovery in which successive generations try to define themselves and their notions of home.

No character escapes the shadow of war and its repercussions. Nor does anyone manage to disentangle themselves entirely from the family web.

A wonderfully sensory journey through the last fifty years, this book feels like looking at old family video footage while privy to its secrets. Hugely readable and somehow ominous in the light of current events.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Spilt Milk by Amanda Hodgkinson or The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Avoid if you don’t like: Changing narrators, a broad canvas, time jumps

Ideal accompaniments: Pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, a cold beer and The Joni Mitchell Tribute Album.

Genre: Literary fiction

Available on Amazon

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