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Aquamarine Hardcover – 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co. (1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395585627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395585627
  • ASIN: B001VUQPHK
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,547,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Carol Anshaw is a brilliant, nuanced writer.
LA
They are very real and I could indentify with each character.
Toni Smith
Aquamarine is the kind of book I wanted to savor.
anibooga@AOL.com

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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9 of 10 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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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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3 of 3 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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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert H. Nunnally Jr. on November 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
The "what if" genre of fiction seems popular both in books and in movies today. This book is not just another "Sliding Doors" or "Passion of Mind" work, although being either of those works is not a bad thing to be. Ms. Anshaw wants to illumine character with her plot device--what becomes of an Olympic silver medalist in three alternative scenarios based on different choices the swimmer makes during the next 20 years. The themes of betrayal and its effect on the ability of the betrayed to share intimacy are well spun out here. This is a good book, and the Missouri scenes' atmosphere is very down to earth and real.
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