Monday, June 3, 2013

The Mermaid Collector

Title: The Mermaid Collector Author: Erika Marks Publisher: Doubleday Large Print Pages: 460

From Amazon:
More than a century ago, lighthouse keeper Linus Harris left his beloved wife and waded into the ocean with three other men to reunite with their mermaid lovers. The mysterious Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 has become legend for the residents of Cradle Harbor, Maine, honored by the town’s Mermaid Festival every August, when wind chimes are hung from seaside porches to drown out the alluring sound of mermaid song. 

For twenty-five-year-old Tess Patterson, the legend is more than folklore; it’s proof of life’s magic. A hopeless romantic who is profoundly connected to the ocean in which she lost her mother, Tess ekes out a living as a wood-carver and longs to find a love as mystical as the sea. But when she’s hired to carve the commemorative mermaid sculpture for the coming festival, a chance to win the town’s elusive acceptance might finally be in her grasp.

For Tom Grace, life’s magic was lost at eighteen, when the death of his parents left him to care for his reckless brother, Dean. Now thirty-five and the new owner of Cradle Harbor’s prized lightkeeper’s house, Tom hopes the quiet town will calm Dean’s self-destructive ways. But when Tom discovers Tess working on her sculpture, an unlikely and passionate affair ignites between them that just might be the stuff of legend itself—even as it brings to the surface a long-buried secret that could tear everything apart.  

A quick easy read, this story brings together a likable set of characters in a Maine beach resort town. The town is getting ready to celebrate a legend from the 1800's in which a lightkeeper and three other men leave their families and run together into the sea to be with the Mermaids they fell in love with. 
The story is told from several points of view:

Buzz is an old hippy and owner of a small gathering of resort cottages overlooking the sea. Buzz and his step-daughter, Tess, are each dealing with (or not dealing with) the loss of his wife (Tess' mother) in their own way.

Tess is in a one-sided romance with the town golden boy when she meets Tom who has just inherited the lightkeeper's house from Buzz's brother-in-law, Frank.

Tom Grace, straight-laced teacher, never has any fun. He can't afford to let go and enjoy life because he is too busy caring for his alcoholic brother, Dean. Why did Frank, whom Tom never met, leave the lightkeeper's house to Tom and Dean?

Beverly, Frank's former mistress, rents one of the cottages in order to find out more about Frank and his past.

Lydia, wife of Linus, the lightkeeper in the 1880's, can't understand the changes in her husband since his mysterious disappearance at sea for four days. After he and three other men are miraculously returned to their families, they have all changed and become like strangers.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I thought it would be a sappy romance, but it isn't. Tess is a bit unlikeable at first, but she becomes more human as the story progresses. There were a few unanswered questions. Where was Frank's wife? What went on during that four days when the men were missing at sea, and what happened when they returned to sea?
In spite of these unsolved mysteries, I still liked this book and recommend it as a great summer/ beach read.

Read this book if you...
*like stories that take place on the beach
*like stories with a touch of romance and mystery

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