Anita Diamant's international bestseller The Red Tent brilliantly re-created the ancient world of womanhood, exploring the passions, traditions, and turmoil of a family of mothers and daughters from the Book of Genesis. In Good Harbor, she brings her remarkable storytelling skills and emotional insight to the lives of modern women, considering the precarious balance of marriage and career, motherhood and friendship.
The seaside town of Gloucester, on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is a place where the smell of the ocean lingers in the air. Fifty-nine-year-old Kathleen Levine, a longtime resident, is graceful, maternal, and steady, a devoted children's librarian, a convert to Judaism, the mother of two grown sons. But when she is diagnosed with breast cancer -- which killed her sister fifteen years earlier -- her life is thrown into turmoil. Frightened, lonesome for a woman to talk to, burdened by secrets, she meets Joyce Tabachnik and a once-in-a-lifetime friendship is born. Forty-two-year-old Joyce, restless and funny, a freelance writer with literary aspirations, has just bought a small house in Gloucester, where she hopes to write as well as vacation with her family. Like Kathleen, Joyce is at a fragile place in her life: with her twelve-year-old daughter becoming increasingly testy and distant, she's also feeling a distinct lack of connection to her husband.
A mutual appreciation of books, humor, and the beauty of the natural world brings the two women together for long walks along Good Harbor beach. Slowly, they begin to share their personal histories and to realize how much they can learn from each other. Ultimately they wrestle with some startling secrets, and help each other to confront scars left by old emotional wounds.
With her own trademark wisdom and humor, Diamant considers the nature, strength, and necessity of adult female friendship. Good Harbor is a rich and moving book about the tragedy of loss, the insidious nature of family secrets, and, ultimately, the redemptive power of friendship.
Linda Emond's performance helps to enliven the second offering by the author of the best-selling biblical epic The Red Tent. This novel, far narrower in scope than Diamant's first, focuses on two women: Kathleen Levine, a 59-year-old children's librarian undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, and Joyce Tabachnik, a 42-year-old journalist and romance novelist struggling to cope with a workaholic spouse and their increasingly impertinent 12-year-old daughter. Kathleen is a longtime resident of Cape Ann, MA, while Joyce and her husband have just purchased a summer home there. The two women meet one night after synagogue and immediately hit it off. While taking long walks along Good Harbor beach, the two gradually share their personal histories, developing a deep friendship that helps them cope with their domestic problems. Diamant's smooth prose, well-drawn characters, and vivid descriptions of Cape Ann help to compensate for the novel's slow-moving, minimal plot. A solid choice for large fiction collections.DBeth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist. Lib., OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 16, 2002
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Excerpt from Good Harbor by Anita Diamant
Kathleen lay on the massage table and looked up at the casement windows high above her. The sashes were fashioned of rough oak, the glass uneven and bottle-thick. Propped open on green sapling sticks, they were windows from an enchanted castle. Having been a children's librarian for twenty-five years, Kathleen Levine considered herself something of an expert on the subject of enchanted castles.
She smiled and closed her eyes. The massage was a birthday present from her coworkers at Edison Elementary. They'd given her the gift certificate at a surprise party for her fifty-ninth birthday, almost five months ago. When Madge Feeney, the school secretary, had learned that Kathleen still hadn't used it, Madge had harrumphed and made the appointment for her.
Kathleen stretched her neck from side to side. "Comfortable?" asked Marla, who stood at the far end of the table, kneading Kathleen's left instep. Marla Fletcher, who was nearly six feet tall, sounded as though she were far, far away. Like the giant wife in the castle of "Jack and the Beanstalk," Kathleen thought, and smiled again.
She sighed, letting go of the tension of driving from school to this odd, out-of-the-way place. Kathleen had thought she knew every last side street on Cape Ann, but Marla's directions had taken her along unfamiliar roads leading, finally, up a rutted, one-way lane that looped around the steep hills overlooking Mill Pond. She nearly turned back once, convinced she'd lost the way. But then she spotted the landmark: a stone gate, half-hidden by overgrown lilac bushes, weeks away from blooming.
It must have been a stunning estate in its day. Much as she hated being late, Kathleen slowed down for a better look. The great lawn had been designed to show off the pond, which shone platinum in the spring sun. Beyond it, Mill River glittered into the distance, silver on mauve.
She turned the car toward the sprawling hewn-granite mansion. Those windows seemed piteously small to be facing such a magnificent scene, she thought. And the four smaller outbuildings, made of the same majestic stones, with the same slate turrets, seemed oddly grand for servants' quarters.