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Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Ann Hood(Author)

    Book details


This novel begins in 1969, and as Peter, Paul and Mary croon on the radio and poster paints are splashing the latest anti-war slogans. Suzanne, a poet, lives in a Maine beach house awaiting the birth of a love child she will name Sparrow. Claudia, who weds a farmer during college, plans to raise three strong sons. And Elizabeth and Howard marry, organize protest marches, and try to raise their two children with their own earthy, hippie values. By 1985, things have changed. Suzanne, now with a M.B.A., has taken to calling Sparrow "Susan." After personal tragedy, Claudia spirals backward into her sixties world—and into madness. And Elizabeth, fatally ill, watches despairingly as her children yearn for a split-level house and a gleaming station wagon.

In this beloved, critically acclaimed first novel, Hood's clear, brave, and penetrating voice captures the spirit of three friends struggling to resolve their lives in a complicated time warp called lost youth.

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Book details

  • PDF | 224 pages
  • Ann Hood(Author)
  • Picador; 1st edition (July 15, 1998)
  • English
  • 6
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Laurel-Rain Snow on May 19, 2013

    "Brilliant....[The Vietnam era] is vividly captured by Ann Hood."--New York Times Book ReviewIn 1969, as Peter, Paul and Mary croon on the radio and poster paints are splashing the latest antiwar slogans, three friends find love. Suzanne, a poet, lives in a Maine beach house awaiting the birth of a child she will call Sparrow. Claudia, who weds a farmer during college, plans to raise three strong sons. Elizabeth and her husband marry, organize protests, and try to rear two children with their hippy values. By 1985, things have changed: Suzanne, now with an MBA, calls Sparrow "Susan." Claudia spirals backward into her sixties world--and into madness. And Elizabeth, fatally ill, watches despairingly as her children yearn for a split-level house and a gleaming station wagon. Reading group guide included.We join the story from the point of view of Sparrow, who longs for a father she has never known...and who is curious about a vaguely recalled image of a house in Maine. She also has a photo of her father standing next to a green Day-Glo VW.Rebekah, child of Elizabeth, was born "frowning," according to those who share thoughts about her. But Rebekah feels ugly and wants to change how she looks...so she has a secret nose job. Her relationship with her mother is complex and troubled.Henry, child of Claudia, and secretly in love with Rebekah, recalls life before....and longs for his own special love story.Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine: A Novel weaves the tales of these characters, sweeping back and forth, showing what life was like for old friends Suzanne, Claudia, and Elizabeth...and then revealing how life has played out for them.Suzanne, Sparrow's mother, obsessively tries to create an entirely different kind of life for herself...and wants to forget everything about that time in Maine, when she was in love and when she took risks and didn't follow the rules.Claudia lives in her own dream world, focused on a moment in time and wishing she could change things.Elizabeth feels life slipping away and watches those she loves moving on without her.And finally, Sparrow sees her father again....and realizes that illusions and reality are two different things.Poignant, sad, but with beautiful happy moments that can be brought out like treasures to remember and nourish, I could not help but feel connected to them and to the times in which their friendships and their first loves were born. The times, indeed, were a-changing. Five stars.

  • By [email protected] on May 27, 1999

    Spare style and quick, witty dialog all make Somewhere Off The Coast Of Maine a refreshing read. Three womens' lives have become intertwined through family and fate. Long gone are the sixties of their rebellious youth, but they still keep their memories close to their hearts as a loved one keeps a snippet of hair in a locket. We learn the values of these memorable characters through their children; family plays an important role in this novel. Sad at times, funny at other times, the novel is one to breeze through quickly and effortlessly, yet the reader is still left with a sense that they have read a classic novel of the human condition. I highly recommend this novel as a change of pace for anyone bogged down by heavy books, or not able to get "INTO" a new book. An excellent choice of reading material.

  • By C. E. Delage on January 30, 2014

    For those of us in our sixties now, our memories of the 1960's are no doubt vivid. If you are one of these people, this novel by Ann Hood will be a real treat. Like me, you will recognize the characters because you and your friends were not much different. Poignant and hard-hitting, Off the Coast of Maine is a fine book! Enjoy!

  • By Luan Gaines on May 17, 2008

    Hood's 1987 debut novel is set in the mid-1980s, a few chapters drifting back to the heady days of the late 60s in Maine and Massachusetts, where great cultural upheavals challenge a country inured to the rigid social restrictions of the 1950s, a "Father Knows Best" era that values home, family and long-held traditions. From a more reflective perspective than a nostalgic one, Hood portrays the evolving lives of three women, each reflected in their growing children's attitudes. Reveling in the heady political and social potential of a seminal decade, these women, twenty years later, deal with the fall out, the inevitable consequences of choices and lifestyles. Their parent's often impulsive decisions have influenced these young people, who both respect and resent their parent's extravagant excesses, the ramifications far more personal than political.Sparrow, successful businesswoman Suzanne's daughter, resists her mother's embrace of future vs. past, yearning for a connection with the father she has never known, the blonde- haired, handsome Abel she has romanticized in her imagination. Meanwhile, Suzanne has announced her impending marriage to Ron, a poor substitute for a glamorous, iconic sixties poet. Resenting Suzanne's desire to move on, Sparrow displays the taciturn, near-rudeness of a teen in turmoil, caught in a universal mother-daughter struggle of love and independence. Elizabeth and Howard, on the other hand, have continued their principled lifestyle, their pottery business easily sustaining a commitment to honoring the bounty of the natural world, causing teen-aged Rebekah considerable angst, the girl awkward with her peer group, anguished by her inability to make friends other than the slightly-older Henry Rebekah has known since childhood. Then unexpected tragedy strikes their lives as well.Henry's mother, Claudia, is the most tragic of the three college friends, unhinged years ago by the drowning of her first-born son, Simon. Married to a farmer, Claudia has enjoyed a simple existence with her husband and three sons on the farm, the open-ended possibilities of her world shattered by Simon's death. Unable to overcome this terrible loss, Claudia drifts between past and present, increasingly unable to cope with the demands of her family, even Henry's loving care. Beyond the usual travails that bedevil generations, a pervasive sadness accompanies the fortunes of these three women, an indication of Hood's penchant for writing of human frailties and the tentative connections we make to heal the burdens women face as wives and mothers. Although the 60s flashbacks are embarrassingly naïve, the later years reflect more maturity in Hood's characters. Not surprisingly, the children of these rebellious hippies cherish their own dreams, the love of home and family a treasured, sometimes troubling legacy as they reach toward the future. Luan Gaines/ 2008.

  • By Margie Williams on August 22, 2016

    I decided to only give a two star review because I was very disappointed in the ending ! I very much enjoyed the story line and the development of the characters , it ended so abruptly....like the author didn't want to figure out a plausible ending

  • By PhilH on November 8, 2015

    Plot is thin and unimaginative, characters are one dimensional, and there is no overall theme to tie the story and characters together.


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