The Ocean House by Mary-Beth Hughes

EXCERPT: And maybe this is where the story begins. If the younger sister was the terrible middle, and the old poet, seen at long last through the eyes of love, was the end, then this, the poets began to believe – and it frightened them in its starkness – might be the start.

Who picked her stepmother up at the train station? They all did.

A huddle of poets, braced against the whipping wind off the icy river, sheltered only by each other’s warmth. The train crept in to a stop. They already felt the escaped curl on the collar. The sexy wisp. As if the old poet had bequeathed them something delicious. Alive. Breathing.

ABOUT ‘THE OCEAN HOUSE: STORIES’: Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

MY THOUGHTS: I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but I didn’t get it. And when I say ‘I didn’t get it,’ I really didn’t get it.

I love interconnecting stories. I adore Elizabeth Strout’s work. But The Ocean House didn’t work for me. The publicity blurb says ‘The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore.’ Complicated is right. I found the writing restless and fidgety. I felt confused. If ever a book needed a family tree, this is it. I couldn’t get a handle on the characters at all, let alone figure out how they were connected.

I abandoned this read at 33%. I really wanted to like The Ocean House of which, btw, the only mention made of it by the time I abandoned the read was that it was let out for the summer and Cece was expected to clean it when the tenants moved out in return for subsidized rent on her apartment.

I think the cover is exquisite. I would have liked the contents to be equally so.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from The Ocean House, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy this.

#TheOceanHouse #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Mary-Beth Hughes is the author of the bestselling novel Wavemaker II, a New York Times Notable Book, and the acclaimed collection Double Happiness, which earned a Pushcart Prize. Her latest book, The Loved Ones, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, and A Public Space. She lives in Brooklyn and Rhinebeck, New York. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Ocean House: Stories by Mary-Beth Hughes for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

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Author: sandysbookaday

I love good quality chocolate. I love the ocean and love to be in, on or beside it. I read any and every where. I am a proud mum and Nana. I like wine, gin, Southern Comfort, a cold Heineken on a hot day. I am very versatile like that. I cross stitch, do jigsaws, garden, and work on a farm. I am an occasional scribbled. I have far too many books I want to read to ever find the time to die. I am an active member of Goodreads as Sandy *the world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* and review on Amazon under the name Sandyj21. My Goodreads reviews are automatically linked to my Facebook page. Groups I belong to and participate in on Goodreads include: The Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group; Mysteries and Crime Thrillers; Psychological Thrillers; Reading for Pleasure; Crime Detective Mystery Thrillers; English Mysteries; Dead Good Crime; Kindle English Mystery, All About Books and NZ Readers. April 2016 I made the Top 1% of Goodreads reviewers (As follows) Hello Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*, In our community of readers, you stand out in a notable way: You're one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! With every rave and every pan, with every excited GIF and every critical assessment, you've helped the Goodreads community get closer to a very important milestone – the 50 Million Reviews mark!

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