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Aquamarine Paperback – November 14, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Later Printing edition (November 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395877555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395877555
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anshaw recounts the life of a one-time Olympic swimmer in three richly textured, cleverly interlinked novellas.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When she was 17, Jesse Austin lost an Olympic gold medal in the 1968 100-meter women's freestyle swimming event by a hair to contender Marty Finch. Twenty-two years later, Jesse is still haunted by this loss and by her love affair with Marty. Her present life is shown in three possible versions: as a small-town wife; a New York City cosmopolitan woman involved in a lesbian relationship; and as a divorcee with two children. Anshaw's interesting format works well, providing excellent characterizations and three gripping plot lines. She employs wry humor and a deft style to explore the choices we make and why we make them, with cogent insights into sexuality and parenthood. The portraits of Jesse's independent-minded grandmother and her retarded brother, Willie, are very well done. Highly recommended.
- Harriet Gottfried, NYPL
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Aquamarine is the kind of book I wanted to savor.
anibooga@AOL.com
She can write descriptive passages, and she can also write dead-on dialogue.
LA
Best of all, none of the lives she becomes are judged better or worse.
Laurence R. Bachmann

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Myers on June 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Anshaw writes with a believability that makes you think this is autobiographical. I haven't got any information on that, but I suspect she's just *THAT GOOD* as a writer. Structured as a set of three closely tied "what-if" novelettes which all use the same characters and same protagonist to examine a particular woman's midlife, Anshaw hits the nail on the head again and again. You will not read many novels concerning sexual ambiguity that are as good as this one. And yet the book is about so much else that I feel unfair in pigeonholing it to some kind of "bi-girl" subgenre.
Even though the writing feels light in many places, the effect slowly starts to pile up in heavier and heavier subtexts until it will have knocked you flat by the end, trust me.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By gac1003 on October 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
In 1968 at the Mexico City Olympics, Jesse Autsin wins a silver medal in the Women's 100-Meters Freestyle. She would have won the gold if it hadn't been for her closest competition, the mysterious and seductive Marty Finch.
Flash forward to July 1990. Jesse is about to turn 40, but is she happy with the choice she made immediately after winning the silver? In an unusual novel, author Carol Anshaw gives us a look into three posibile presents for Jesse.
In the first, she has been married for 20 years to Neal Pratt and still lives in her small hometown of New Jerusalem, Missouri. Her mentally retarded brother lives with them and helps with the upkeeep of Pratt's Caverns, the small business left to them by Neal's parents. Her godmother, Hallie, talks of the upcoming retirement party for Jesse's mother, an English teacher at the local high school. Jesse is content but still wonders about her first love, Marty Finch.
In the second, Jesse is an English professor in New York City, something she thought her mother would be proud of, but isn't. She also lives with her lover, Kit, who plays vampy Nurse Rhonda on a soap opera. Jesse is taking her to her mother's retirement party in New Jerusalem, Missouri, unsure of how the family will react to the two of them together. Her godmother Hallie has always known. Jesse thinks that Kit is going to leave her, especially when Jesse's mother asks her to take in her retarded brother Willie. But, in the back of her mind, she still wonders if she was being used by Marty Finch on that day in Mexico City.
In the third, a divorced Jesse lives in Venus Beach, Florida, with her children Anthony and Sharon. Anthony's had a run-in with the law, and now, his father is on his way from New York to "take care of things.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Carol Anshaw's Aquamarine is inventive without ever being flashy and moving with out ever sentimentalizing. The same woman, imagined in different permutations--divorced mom, stay at home mom, lesbian professional, comes to life in a literary triptych unlike anything I've read. The author's fascinating premise is that there isn't one "unique" self inside us, struggling to be realized, but many possibilities that can float to the surface depending upon choices that at the time they are made which don't seem life determining.

In each of the stories the main character makes a seemingly innocuous choice--whether to stay rural or go urban; marry out of high school or go to university--that completely and radically not only changes her but set her on that "inevitable" course. For all of our "decision making" "career moves" et al we are amazingly malleable and control is pretty much illusion.

Best of all, none of the lives she becomes are judged better or worse. They are just different--variant and perhaps opposite, and yet all are familiar and all are worthy. Whatever your outlook on life, you almost certainly haven't looked at it through this lens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a book filled with remarkable, vividly drawn characters and places. Smartly interwoven stories told with such splendid honesty and powerful moments that the reader feels compelled to turn the page. If you miss Aquamarine you have missed a beautifully written story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LA VINE VOICE on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read about this book when it first came out. I remembered the reviews were excellent, and when I recently came across a used copy at an AAUW book sale I picked it up. It is now two decades later, and I've finally had an opportunity to read Aquamarine. I regret waiting so long.

It is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. Carol Anshaw is a brilliant, nuanced writer. She can write descriptive passages, and she can also write dead-on dialogue.

The book is achingly true and human. It is humorous. It is haunting. I have no idea why Carol Anshaw is not better known, but now I need to read everything she's ever written.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By anibooga@AOL.com on November 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
Aquamarine is the kind of book I wanted to savor. It is the only book I ever read which was able to portray the "what ifs" of life so brilliantly; the paths taken and not taken in our lives that eat away at us. I only wish I had written it first!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kendra Wagner on June 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Besides relating to the main character's tensility between loving women and loving men, I could also get inside all of the 17 characters and find someone like them in my own life. Any author who can make characters come alive like this is an artist in my book. The dreaminess and soap opera-ness sometimes threw me off, thus it would not make a great movie, but what book ever does? Her writing style is closely aligned with that of Anne Tyler in my opinion. A courageous writer, to explore the topic of who we would be if we took different steps in life, and it ultimately reminded me of the T-Shirt, "Wherever you go, there you are", implying that we all have our lessons we come out of the womb to learn, and she would have to get resolved with Marty and also with her dad's death no matter how colorful or boring her life day-to-day turned out to be.
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