Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine

29May09

**Before I begin, let me just tell you that Job and I just had the most awesome snuggle.  It was a long snuggle, and he’s totally the best dog in the world.**

I read Ann Hood’s Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine on Wednesday, in one sitting, which is extraordinarily rare for me.  (I can really be a slow and/or distracted reader, and it takes a pretty good book for me to want to keep going and buzz right through it.  Marc is the EXACT opposite of me in this regard, but that’s a whole other blog posting).  I have read Hood’s book Ruby, but I was eager to read Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, because it was Hood’s first novel, and very well regarded.

Ann Hoods first novel, Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine

Ann Hood's first novel, Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine

Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine follows three friends through college and beyond.  Suzanne is a WASP-y freshman in college, ready to pledge sororities.  Her life changes, though, when she meets a young poet, Abel, and befriends Claudia and Elizabeth, two idealistic girls who live in her dorm.  Claudia is a rebel, who drifts to Maine from California, searching for amazing highs and sexual freedom, which she finds with many partners.  Elizabeth, focused on peace and politics, falls for a teaching assistant who shares her passions.  The girls sustain their friendship through college but the passage of time and changes in their lives drive them further away from each other.  Suzanne is left to raise her child alone, after Abel expresses his disinterest in becoming a father.  Determined to make her own way in the world, she cuts herself off from her friends and anything that reminds her of Abel.  Claudia loses her oldest son, when he drowns in a nearby pond, and slips into madness, jeopardizing her friendships and her marriage.  Elizabeth, who tries to maintain stasis within her friendships and her marriage, is faced with her own mortality after being diagnosed with cancer.

Ann Hood weaves this story very deftly, with each very short chapter changing time periods, points of view and narrators.  The story is not told in chronological order, flipping from the women’s college years in the late 1960s, and their journey into middle age, in the 1980s.  Though the story goes back and forth between characters and time periods, each chapter pieces the characters and their lives together, until each complete story is told.  Hood uses a light touch, building really smart characters, and reflecting each woman’s character through her children.

I HIGHLY recommend this book.  I think that it could resonate with anyone, not just a child of the ’60s.  I think it’s really well written and I’m very eager to see what others think.

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One Response to “Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine”

  1. 1 Emily

    Cool! I need a new book!


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