Anita Shreve, Sea Glass (2002)

Oh, I wish someone had told me beforehand that this was a drama! I was so taken by the characters that the story ending just blew me away and left me sorry for them… I’m getting so easily emotional these days (I even sobbed like crazy over a Cole Porter biopic, much to Mr. Smithereens’ dismay)!


Shreve uses an alternate point of view between 5 main characters, and each voice is equally believable, thanks to Shreve’s sensibility and attention to historical detail. The novel is set in a small industrial town on the New England seaside in 1929, so that we get to feel what the big economic crash meant in the everyday life of workers, independent professionals and wealthier people. Reading this book as the stock market is erratic, the sub-prime crisis has forced many people in the US to sell their home and the economy is taking a downturn is a sad coincidence. But however grim the situation now seems, the 1929 crisis had a much deeper impact: people really starved and took the road rather than to die.


During my bouts of pregnancy insomnia, I imagined what actor could play each of the characters, should the book be adapted into a movie. I thought of Renee Zellweger as Honora, the solid yet dreamy housewife who sees her marriage crumbling as her husband loses his job and money. I thought of Ashley Judd as Vivian, the upper-class dilettante who discovers the fate of poor factory workers. There are still 3 roles to fill: Alphonse, the resilient young boy who toils in the factory, Sexton, Honora’s charming but untrustworthy husband, and McDermott, the proud factory worker who gives a hand to union activists to organize a strike… but I realize I’m much less knowledgeable in male actors! Any idea? I would be a terrible casting director, but trying to find a convincing connection between a fictional character and a real life actor is fun! (even though it makes me all the more difficult to convince when I go watch a movie adaptation). Do you ever play this game in your head?


PS. Courtney, you convinced me to read this book and to look for Fortune’s Rocks… unfortunately that one isn’t available here… I’ll have to mooch it!


6 thoughts on “Anita Shreve, Sea Glass (2002)

  1. I cast almost every novel I read, I have to as I tend to see them in my head as I read. I would be a particularly terrible casting director as Christian Bale seems to get a part in every one these days! Still – my head, my rules.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed the writing although I am so sorry it made you cry. I remember crying over it as well. If you enjoyed this I have no doubt you will love Fortune’s Rocks – it really is even better. And I REALLY need to get on bookmooch so I can start sharing and mooching.

  3. That is so funny that you pictured who would play what character in a film. I do that too, sometimes (sometimes I do that when I’m writing!).

    Murder on a Kibbutz, huh? Will have to check it out!

  4. Eloise, LK, I’m quite happy not to be the only one to have this quirky little habit… Book blogging is all about sharing dirty secrets, isn’t it?

    Courtney, don’t worry about making me cry. I requested Fortune’s Rock through Bookmooch, I hope it will arrive soon!

    Dorothy, Anita Shreve’s novels are a perfect comfort read (even if it occasionally makes you cry!)

  5. This is funny- I of course do the same thing. I think avid readers, like someone else mentioned, do it without even thinking! It’s funny you mentioned Christian Bale (he was my main character in her book The Weight of Water – Hey, I read it before the movie when they cast Sean Penn – which I did not like) but anyhow, that one and this book are tied for my favorites of hers. I’ve read them each like five times. For this book, I saw the following: Honora – Rose Byrne, Sexton – Ryan Gosling (or Paul Walker) I was undecided, Vivian – Claire Danes, McDermott – James McAvoy (hands down), and Alphonse – Liam Aiken (the younger son from Road To Perdition – but at that age (I think he’d be to old to play the part if they made the movie today!)….anyway – I’m glad to hear others enjoy this obsession…Has anyone read her new one yet? I haven’t bought it yet. Cheers! Sarah

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