Every so often, I read a novel that causes me to feel things incredibly deeply, submerging me into the pain and joy, trials and triumphs of the characters in a truly tangible way. Cottage by the Sea is one such novel, poignant, rich, reaching down into my soul and leaving me moved by the story contained within its pages. My heart both broke and rejoiced as I read Erin's story and watched her walk through a journey of discovery with her father, a journey that ultimately led to true healing for both. I think that this story especially spoke to me as I considered my own relationship as a father to my own daughters, and as I imagined how I am showing them my love and care. Am I making them feeling cared for and cherished? Are there things I could be doing differently so that when the end of my life draws near, we won't have to work through a closet full of regrets? Robin Jones Gunn has penned a well-crafted novel, one that not only mines the depths of the heart, but entertains as well, because I found that the story moved along at an excellent pace while also letting you savor the unfolding of the story.
I highly recommend this book for those readers seeking a worthy contemporary novel that will leave you feeling uplifted by the time you turn the last page. Be prepared to shed a tear! 5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Howard Books, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Erin Bryce has just opened a wedding planning business, The Happiest Day, with her friend, Sharlene. When she gets the news that her father has some serious health issues, she travels from her home in Southern California up to the Oregon coast to spend time with him and his second wife, the brusque and very odd, Delores.
Erin is about to be overwhelmed with the new business, her own son's wedding to Sierra Jenson, and spending time caring for her ailing father. Will she be able to keep her sanity and her focus during this chaotic time?
Robin Jones Gunn has been one of my favorite authors since I was in late elementary school and this book did not disappoint! I enjoyed reading about Sierra's wedding, but what I enjoyed even more was Erin's devotion to her father. While Erin and her husband were trying to move him to a nursing home near their California home, Erin stayed in Oregon to take care of her father. And while spending time on the Oregon coast, Erin falls in love with the Cottage by the Sea.
I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book from Howard for the purpose of this review.
Two squeezes meant simply that I love you; three squeezes in return meant I love you too! That was the way things were communicated silently in the Bryce family, only Erin really needed this confirmation from her father which was always left with wanting more.
As Erin Bryce and her best friend Sharlene prepare for the launch of their new wedding planning business, The Happiest Day, she receives a phone call from her dad's wife, Delores telling her that he has had a stroke. Erin immediately leaves for the small beach side community of Moss Cove in Oregon to see how her father is doing. When he appears normal and back to the old self she remembers, she books a flight home and begins to prepare herself for her new business venture but also a future wedding for her son Jordan.
As Erin waits for her father and Delores to show up for the day of the wedding, she tries hard to keep her emotions in check. She blames Delores for keeping her father away and making all the decisions for him. When the day comes and goes with their presence missing, she phones her father's home and learns they are still there. Ready to unleash all her anger, Delores informs her that her father has suffered another stroke and this time he won't be returning back to his old self anytime soon.
In the latest novel, Cottage By The Sea by Robin Jones Gunn, the reader is drawn into the story between a love that is needed by both Erin and her father, Jack. Now with a stroke removing his ability to verbal communicate, Erin and Jack have to rediscover a way to connect after so many years and reestablish the love that both of them need before its too late. This is a timeless story of one of the great needs I believe a woman needs to have in her life, the love of a father and Robin does such a wonderful job at completing this through her novel. I was moved to tears by how well she made me feel for both Erin and Jack's needs.
I felt the frustration that Erin had toward feeling the care of her father was dumped on her shoulders while everyone else seemed to have a life to return to; her anger at Delores when she learns that Delores simply can not stay with someone who requires this type of care; and her crushing need to find a way to fix things between her and her father as communication between the two have a small window that seems to be rapidly closing.
The parts of the book I was immediately drawn to are the setting for the story, being a long time resident of Orange County in California, the reminders of the strawberry fields in Irvine, the John Wayne airport and the poetic way that Robin leads you into the story and magically paints a picture so well, you know it's real. Here's one of my favorite lines from the book, describing the ocean outside her father's cottage:
"Erin could now recognize the waves' varying sounds. She knew, just by listening to the intensity of the waves' roar through the open kitchen window, when they were crashing against the rocks and sending a spindrift into the air. She also knew when the sea was at rest, simply breathing in and out, sending the waves rolling to the shore and then curling them back. Today the sea was feisty. With a curled-up fist, it hurled the white-capped waves onto the shore. The salty avengers tumbled far up the sand before receding in haste and preparing for their next pitch. (pg 177)."
I received Cottage By The Sea compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Publishers for my honest review. This is such a beautiful book to describe the love between a father and daughter and one that Robin shared through her own personal experience. This one will tug at your heart strings and reel you in with all the emotion from words found on the pages. It truly will be unforgettable for me and one I will treasure. This one rates a 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion and one that has found a permanent place in my library.