If you enjoy reading stories of a place rather than of people, then this first novel is for you. But it is melancholy, and it does spend a preponderant amount of time covering a hurricane and its fall-out. This of course is so the reader might fully understand how the place—a Massachusetts fishing town—suffers and changes. It seems clear that the author loves this place, and wants to convey this love to others.
She does follow the lives of some characters more than others, including Elizabeth, an Irish immigrant, her otherworldly granddaughter Eve, and the practical Maggie, who emigrated from the Caribbean to live in Elizabeth’s root cellar and care for roosters. And she provides fascinating detail of life during the early decades of the 20th century, telling me that she knows her subject matter. Her use of language should be the envy of all writers: it is lyrical and original. The novel is fairly easy to read, despite the fact that there are at least ten point-of-view characters. But there is very little dialogue, and the lengthy narrative surrounding the storm of 1938 failed to move me. All the characters seemed to find life a chore. Perhaps life was hard then, but surely there were moments of joy, laughter, pleasure? I think it is probably a great book. But I won’t be reading it again.