Sea Escape by Lynn Griffin has been on my pile for a while. I had read several favorable reviews of it, and then one not-so-favorable one by Natasha at Maw's Books. So, I wasn't sure what to think as I began reading. In fact, I had to start this novel twice before getting into it. I can honestly say that I'm not sure why I wasn't in to it the first time- I am pretty sure my mind was wandering toward thoughts of school starting and all I need to get done-and since I was just beginning this book I needed to devote a little more attention to it in order to get to know the characters and what was happening.
Sea Escape ended up being a great read for me. Griffin explores the mother daughter relationship between Helen and her daughter, Laura, a nurse and mother. When Helen suffers a stroke, Laura must take over the role of caregiver to her mother, despite not feeling close to this woman. Helen's story is told as well, giving insight into how, perhaps, her relationship with her daughter developed and changed from that of a close and loving one to one of distance. Laura had always felt that her mother's greatest love was the one she had for her husband, Joseph. This is revealed in the many letters Joseph sent to Helen as he worked around the world, reporting much of the time from Vietnam.
What readers eventually discover through these letters is that Helen had a few secrets that her daughter did not know about until after she had her stroke and Laura began reading them at her brother, Holden's insistence. Perhaps if these secrets had been out in the open earlier Laura and her mother's relationship would have been different.
The relationship between mothers and daughters is complex, and Griffin creates an interesting, complicated one between these two women. Creating a portion of this book that is Helen's story, helps her become a likeable character despite how distant she was in her later years. Reading of her romance with Joseph made it easy to see how unique their love story was. The events that occurred in Helen's life changed who she was and how she treated her daughter in later years. The bitterness she felt toward her own father was especially interesting to me as Helen found herself in a situation similar to her mother's many years later.
This book had my attention until the end, and while some of the secrets that are revealed were not unexpected, Joseph's secret took me by surprise.
A great women's fiction selection, I will be looking for more of Griffin in the future.