Friday, January 06, 2006

Good Harbor - Anita Diamant (January/06)

This novel was the first book that I read in 2006. I read it the day I bought it, actually. It was an easy read and very different from the other novel I had read by Diamant, The Red Tent. Diamant appears to make religion an important aspect of her literature, even going so far as writing non-fiction books about different aspects of Jewish culture. This book, though, is fiction. It is about the power of friendship in women's lives. Men think that all women do together is gossip, and maybe that is all they do, but there is a closeness to women that men lack and will never understand.

The novel has two main characters: Kathleen Levine and Joyce Tebachnik. Each new chapter is told by one of these two women, so the other characters that enter into the story are only those that these women meet. Kathleen Levine is the older of the two women. She has no grandchildren, but there is something grandmotherly about the way that she interacts with people. Until meeting Joyce, she never even used to swear. She had always lived a simple life as a school librarian, wife, and mother. She never needed to go out of these spheres. And then, she was told she had cancer. Her life changed drastically at that point because with her own diagnosis, other pains resurfaced and presented themselves to be finally dealt with. Through her friendship with Joyce, she finally can move on with her life and forget things that are long since passed.

Joyce Tebachnik is quite opposite from Kathleen, or so you think for most of the novel. She just recently got a summer house in Good Harbor. She is young enough to still have her child home and her husband is a working man, not nearly as devoted as Kathleen's husband can be. Her plans for Good Harbor are to start work on another novel. She has all ready wrote a romance novel, which she is embarrassed by, so hopes to write a serious piece of work. In the end, though, she finds plenty of ways to distract herself from writing. She paints every inch of her new house, she meets new people, she walks with Kathleen - anything to take her away from thinking about her family or her work. In essence, she spends the summer in hiding and has to slowly find her way to the surface in order to live the life that she is meant for. This is where her friendship with Kathleen comes in. Their simple talks lead to a once in-a-lifetime friendship and the ability to overcome the pains of their lives.

Good Harbor is a very simple novel, but it covers many things in a very short time. You feel when you end the book that you have an understanding of these two women and have gone through their journeys to self-discovery with them. It is not the best book I have ever read, but it is story of the friendship of women.

I give this book a 4/5.

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