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The Opposite Shore

Author: Maryanne Stahl
Genre: Fiction
Reviewed by Susan DiPlacido

559Out for a sail aboard the family boat, the Ariel, on Memorial Day, one family's life is about to take a disastrous turn.

Rose, an aspiring painter, and William are the proud and happy parents of sixteen year old Miranda. Anna is Rose's sister and best friend, a pal to Miranda, an avid sailor herself, and close to William. They seem content.

However, when Rose goes home early, leaving William and Anna to close up the boat for the evening, she gets life-altering news. A painting of hers has been accepted in an upcoming gallery showing – her first big break. Flushed with excitement, she races back to the boat to share her exciting news. There, she finds her husband and her sister kissing. Immediately, everyone's world explodes. Betrayed and angry, Rose throws William out, cuts Anna from her life, and moves with her daughter for the rest of the summer to Shelter Island.

Stahl's writing is evocative and vivid. She brings Shelter Island to sparkling life while delving deeply into all four of these richly complex characters. This could be simple, it could devolve into melodrama. But instead Stahl mines this material in an honest and realistic way. Everyone has their flaws, and as they each struggle with their decisions and actions, the summer unwinds with rising tension and uncertainty. These relationships and people are so well rendered, along with the setting, that the reader is sucked into their world and understands, and often sympathizes, with their current situation.

Stahl apparently got the spark of inspiration for this book from Shakespeare's The Tempest. But this isn't a re-write. And though the jumping point for the plot is a betrayal, these characters sing with life, hopes, and frustrations. They are unique voices, though wholly understandable. And Stahl illuminates this world, unafraid to peek into the darker corners, all the way through to the satisfying conclusion.


June 14, 2004 in Mainstream | Permalink


Author, thank you!

Posted by: Zachary | Aug 18, 2007 1:52:05 PM

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