Places by the Sea
By Jean Stone
Bantam Books, April, 1997
I’ve always enjoyed books that are set on bodies of water; oceans, lakes, rivers… Perhaps that is why I was attracted to this used bookstore find, Jean Stone’s ‘Places by the Sea.’ The front cover featured seashells and a pretty cottage by the water, while the back flap promised an enthralling, emotionally charged story of friendship and betrayal, forgiveness and love. The novel did not disappoint.
Forty-year-old Jill Macphearson seems to have it all — a glamorous career as the anchor on a popular Boston television news program, a handsome and successful fiancée, and two beautiful children. After her mother’s death, Jill finds herself with the unwanted task of returning to her childhood home on Martha’s Vineyard and settling the family estate. A lonely and unwanted child, Jill left the island twenty years before and never looked back. Sorting through the family heirlooms, she comes across her mother’s diary and learns some shocking family secrets, which cause her to re-evaluate everything she has ever believed about herself, her family, and her roots.
This story had a little bit of everything; mystery, romance, suspense. The author has an almost magical way with words which drew me into the setting immediately. She managed to weave an intricate storyline with many subplots, and made me care about every one of them. While the writing was superb, I have to admit that it took me awhile to warm up to some of the characters, mainly Jill’s childhood friend, Rita. While I understand that this character had a rough upbringing, I found her to be a little more vulgar at times than I thought necessary, and some of her scenes left me cold. Even so, I enjoyed the interaction between her and Jill.
All in all this was a wonderful, emotion-packed story with just the right blend of soul searching, action, and romance. Definitely worth reading.
Reviewed by Honeybee