Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Cottage at Glass Beach is a must summer read! Giveaway

Nora and her two daughters, Ella and Annie leave for Burke's Island in Maine. Nora used to live here when she was younger. Lately Nora has been feeling a powerful pull to return. Nora and her daughters are staying just for the summer. It is not long before the threee women have a man wash up into their lives...literally. His name is Owen. There is something mysterious about Owen. This will be the summer that Nora and her girls will never forget.
This book was way better than I could have imagine it to be. It had some aire of mystery surrounding it with the characters. While, I figured out where the story was leading pretty early on, I still kept reading and waiting to see how the big reveal would take place. Nora, I was unsure of in the beginning. I was not sure if she could hold her own but she did. She did it in a quiet way. Annie was a doll. She was just like any little seven year old girl...full of wonder, adventure and wise beyond her years. Ella, I could even forgive as well for being a brat. She did it because she was mad at her father but she was still a good sister to Annie.

I love to swim. So if I ever had to become a magical sea creature, I would want to be what was featured in this book. I don't want to saw, as I don't want to give anything away. You will just have to pick up a copy of this book to see if yourself. The Cottage at Glass Beach is a must summer read!


Heather Barbieri’s ancestors came from Western Ireland to the East Coast during the Famine, and the islands of New England have long held a fascination for her—their ruggedness, their sea glass, their storms and history. The author of two previous novels, The Lace Makers of Glenmara, and Snow in July, Barbieri has won international prizes for her short fiction. She lives in Seattle with her family. For more on Heather Barbieri and her books, visit her website: http://www.heatherbarbieri.com/



A Novel

by Heather Barbieri

Escaping the scandal in the wake of her husband’s infidelity, a woman attempts to reconnect with the place of her birth—a remote island off the coast of Maine—and comes to terms with her mother’s disappearance over three decades earlier.

Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, forty-year-old Nora Cunningham is a picture perfect political wife and doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she –along with the rest of the world – learns of her husband Malcolm’s infidelity.

Humiliated, hurt, hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters, Annie, 7, and Ella, 12, and takes refuge with her maternal aunt on Burke’s Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.

Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades—not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night, while sitting alone on Glass Beach, below the cottage where she spent her childhood, she succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman, Owen Kavanagh, shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt’s friend Polly suggests, a selkie, a mythical being of island legend, summoned by her heartbreak; or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?

Just as she begins to regain her balance, her young daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own, a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course—and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her past.


My ancestors came from Western Ireland to the east coast during the Famine, eventually finding work in the mines of Pennsylvania, but longing for the sea. The stories my grandmother told of those early years instilled an abiding fascination in me—for what it meant to be an Irish immigrant and for the rugged islands off the New England coast that reminded them of home.

I’ve thought of setting a novel in that part of the world for years, but had yet to find the right story—until, on one of my walks, I ventured along a rock-strewn Puget Sound beach and glimpsed a seal, bobbing offshore. The seal followed me the length of the shoreline, as if it were trying to tell me something. I remembered the myth of the selkie my grandmother had told me as a child, in which a fisherman caught one of the mythical creatures in his net and she became his wife, as long as he kept the fur she had shed hidden from her. I went home and did some research, discovering a lesser-known side to the tale—that selkies can be male too. (Who says men get to have all the fun?) Finally, the outline of a story began to take shape in my mind, one that cried out to be set in the northerly reaches of New England, just across the water from Ireland, where so many Irish immigrants had settled after coming to this country, as my ancestors had, too. A modern fairytale, grappling with serious issues of divorce, politics, betrayals, abandonment, illness (one of the characters has cerebral amyloidosis, a hidden, little-understood condition that took my mother early this year, which I wrote about in Cottage, both to process the experience and raise awareness), and, ultimately, survival and redemption.


I think of the book as The Good Wife meets Alice Hoffman—a blend of magical realism and domestic drama.


The plot in The Cottage at Glass Beach is more complex than my previous novels. While the book is character- and setting-driven like my earlier works, this book includes the development of deeper themes and the unfolding of a family mystery. I made an outline, while writing this book, which I’ve never done before. Rather apt, since we’ve been talking about charting a course—in this case, the narrative sort.


The overriding message is that it is possible to navigate life’s uncharted waters and find our own happiness and truth.


There are certain places that are hardwired into our consciousness, places that feel immediately familiar once we set foot upon them. New England—Boston and the Massachusetts coast in particular, where I spent time as a teenager—and Quebec, where my mother’s ancestors are from (and where a grand-grand-grand pere, Michel LeMay, for whom my mother was named, founded the village of Loftbiniere near the St. Lawrence River; a statue of him keeps watch over the town square to this day) are such places for me. The novel insisted upon being set off the coast of New England, a place where storms rage and clear, and people, past and present, have sought refuge, as immigrants or merely from their daily lives, or even from scandal, as Nora has done.

I’ve long been drawn to such islands, surrounded, as they are, by the ocean. There is something truly primal about them. They call out to us, don’t they? Partly because they are, perhaps, some of the best places to experience, firsthand, the transformative power of nature—on the land, and on our very selves—and the power of community, to compel us to pull together and survive. Cottage seemed to emerge from the very narrative soil of Burke’s Island, as much as from my imagination.

Now that you have read my review and the story behind the book, all that is left is to leave your name and email address to win a copy of this book.Thanks to the publisher, I have 3 copies to giveaway! Contest Ends May 31st.


skkorman said...

I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Michelle said...

I love book giveaways! Sounds like a good book.


Katie said...

Sounds like a good book!

Katie Loughlin

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I like the storyline of this novel and would love to read it.\

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Rick Estep said...

I'd be interested to read it. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

librarybooks at religious dot com

Jackie Tessnair said...

I would love to win this book...sounds interesting.Thanks...jackie_tessnair@yahoo.com

Judy said...

What a great summer read this would be!

Heather is a new author to me and I can't wait to read her books so I can get to know her better.

Thanks for the great interview and book giveaway. I'd love to win a copy of The Cottage at Glass Beach.