BODY SURFING/Anita Shreve

At the age of 29, Sydney has already been once divorced and once widowed. Trying to regain her footing once again, she has answered an ad to tutor the teenage daughter of a well-to-do couple as they spend a sultry summer in their oceanfront New Hampshire cottage.

But when the Edwards’ two grown sons, Ben and Jeff, arrive at the beach house, Sydney finds herself caught up in a destructive web of old tensions and bitter divisions. As the brothers vie for her affections, the fragile existence Sydney has rebuilt for herself is threatened. With the subtle wit, lyrical language, and brilliant insight into the human heart that has led her to be called “an author at one with her métier” (Miami Herald), Shreve weaves a novel about marriage, family, and the supreme courage that it takes to love.

I have read two of Anita Shreve’s novels, the first one was The Pilot’s Wife, the story of which I can vaguely remember except that the rating I gave it on Goodreads was 4 stars, which means that I might have fairly enjoyed it. Then I keep seeing some of her books on my favorite bookshop, Booksale, and I cannot just resist not buying them. Who can resist low priced books, anyway? 😛

Body Surfing is a story about twenty-nine year old Sydney, a detail that might have partly affected my decision to buy the book because she was my age, plus that it was on sale at the National Bookstore for only Php 50! 😛

Sydney works as a tutor for Julie, the 18-year old only daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Edwards, as she was recovering from her grief of having lost her husband. As she struggles to rebuild her life on the beautiful seaside cottage of the Edwardses, she also finds herself being caught up between the complexities and eccentricities of the well-to-do family, more especially upon the arrival of Ben and Jeff, the family’s grown-up sons. I especially find interesting the fact that Mrs. Edwards does not like Sydney, except that I am not really convinced of the reason of such utter dislike.

The story spans for three years – from 2002 up to 2005 – and it is during these years that Sydney finds herself in a roller coaster of emotions and existence brought about by loving and caring. Anita Shreve captures every emotion accurately except that I find Sydney’s grief to be a little bit unconvincing. Or maybe it is just Shreve’s way of leaving the thinking to her readers?

Body Surfing is not an excellent read, but not entirely a bad read, either. It’s good company at airports and ferries, not so heavy on the brain cells and not so dense to be altogether boring and uninteresting. The writing is fluid and the style is easy and uncomplicated. The plots are not necessarily original but altogether interesting and captivating. The characters are readable and possessed just the right amount of mystery to make the story not too predictable. It contains enough pace to excite the reader towards the twist and the ending without necessarily making the reader skip some pages.

Anita Shreve’s works are like an addiction – I keep buying them and reading them and find myself enjoying them, despite the negative reviews.

3 stars.

6/50 Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge.
3/30 Off The Shelf Reading Challenge.

Book blurb from Goodreads.

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