Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Review & Giveaway Safe from Sea
Title: Safe from Sea by Peter Geye
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Published: September 28, 2010
Olaf Torr is dying so it's only natural that he call his estranged son and ask for help getting his cabin ready for winter. Even though he has held his father at arm's length for years, it's only natural that Noah would leave Boston for a small town in Minnesota. As he travels, still unable to understand why he agreed to his father's request unsure what extended contact to do to their relationship.
Olaf's work as a sailor left him offshore for extended periods of time and makes him somewhat of an unknown quantity to Noah. The major turning point in Olaf's life was the wreck of the epic ship Ragnarok one frozen winter. After surviving the wreck, a piece of Olaf seemed to be missing. To the detriment of his family, he turned to alcohol for solace. Noah's memories of Olaf are dominated by these alcohol soaked episodes. He and his wife have been trying unsuccessfully to have a child and he can't imagine why a devoted husband and father would become the man Olaf became. Yet he is willing to sacrifice a fertility cycle with Natalie to fulfill his duties to his father.
Seeing his father, he realizes Olaf is not joking about his impending death. Olaf has even started creating the anchor for his hoped for watery grave. Noah realizes now is finally the time to put to rest some of the differences he has with his father. The worn out old man he sees is definitely not the harsh, demanding father of his youth. Over the course of several days, Olaf shares stories of his youth, memories of his mother in Norway, and the true unabridged story of the wreck of the Ragnarok and his rescue the next morning. From the stories, Noah is able to see alternate stories to the ones that have been the basis of his resentment towards his father. He feels his issues with his father pale in comparison to the massive cross his father has born for decades and feels sorrow for the wasted years.
This was a great book. The action takes place over the course of the week yet feels neither prolonged nor rushed. The classic story of an estranged parent and child was given a twist with the shipping back story, the wreck of the Ragnarok, and the ending. The characters were richly portrayed. Olaf could have come off as detestable but his story lent so much depth and he came across as real not a caricature. It was great seeing the arc of emotions Noah has toward his father from beginning to the end of the story.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher Unbridled Books in exchange for my honest opinion. Would you like a hardcover copy of this book? Enter below with your name and email. Contest open to residents of US and Canada.*