Friday, December 2, 2022

Book Review: The Sea Glass Beach

By Sara Steven

In 1950’s southern Ireland, single mother Theresa gives birth to a child she names Roisin. Arrangements are in hand for the adoption when Theresa changes her mind. The child, gifted and intuitive, is viewed by the local community as ‘odd’. Reeling from the news of Roisin’s heart-breaking expulsion from convent school, Theresa makes a momentous decision. To protect her daughter, she must send her away.

Canada’s wild beauty serves as a backdrop to a year of challenges for Roisin. She encounters trauma and devastating loss, but also gains a new family and finds love with the enigmatic Cal. Death, grief and culpability are potent forces she must somehow come to terms with. Can a tiny model boat unshackle her from her past and help her journey into a hopeful future? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

The Sea Glass Beach is such a pretty novel–and I’ve never described a book as such, but that description fits perfectly. The illustration provided, the epic scenery of not only Ireland but the Nova Scotia terrain in Canada, made me feel as though I was right there with Roisin as she dips her feet into a freezing ocean, or relishes in freshly-packed snow for the first time. It felt nostalgic and periodic, which was more than fitting for a story that takes place in the 1950s. Idyllic. 

I really like Roisin. Nowadays, her personality would fit in well. She loves to learn, she loves to commune with nature, and she loves to run. But in the 50s, those qualities weren’t considered ladylike, and at one point, a relative remarks on how the local colleges are just beginning to allow women to attend while majoring in the sciences, no less! It’s crazy to think that it really wasn’t so long ago that there was such a divide on what a woman could be capable of, and what was expected of her, and I love that Roisin pushes against those stereotypes and yearns for more.

This is a definite coming-of-age story. It seemed the initial journey alone while traveling from Ireland to Canada had become the catalyst for that, along with some life-altering events that occurred during that time, that not only made her feel the need to grow up, but grow up fast. It’s a true transition and it was interesting to see, particularly in her dealings with Cal. While living with her mother in Ireland, her personality still appeared to be child-like, and with Canada and Cal, she’s blossoming and becoming more womanly, but still manages to maintain the core sense of who she is, not wanting to change that for anyone. 

It’s funny–while reading The Sea Glass Beach, I kept thinking, “I wish I could experience that life.” The simplicity of waking up with nature, relishing in a hard day's work outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and scenery. Roisin writes to her mother at a special desk that had been designed by the relatives she lives with, and every so often, she looks out among the farm, seeing glimpses of the ocean beyond. For someone like me who wishes at times that she could just unplug and just “be,” that kind of life seems pretty refreshing. The whole story and experience is refreshing. A well-worthy five star read!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Tina Pritchard spent most of her life engaged in bringing up a family, taking a social science degree, working as a lecturer, a trainer and more recently as an independent celebrant conducting funerals, weddings and naming ceremonies. Her first book, a psychological thriller, In A Deep Dark Wood, was published in 2021. The Sea Glass Beach is a departure in genre and started life as a short story morphing over the years into a novel. It is a work of fiction inspired in part by her own mother’s experience of giving birth to a child at Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home in the 1950’s. That child, born all those years ago in Co Tipperary, Ireland, is the author of this book.

Tina loves to write and has won competitions for both her short stories and her poetry. She lives in a beautiful part of the world and gains much of her inspiration from walking her badly behaved terrier, Horace, in the Derbyshire countryside.

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1 comment:

Tina said...

Thank you Sara for your really lovely review of The Sea Glass Beach. It made my heart lift to read how much you enjoyed the book and how you 'got' what I was trying to achieve with the characters and the storyline.