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Changing Tides Paperback – August 1, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ford (Full Circle; Last Summer) bridges the gap between gay romance and mainstream fiction in his latest. Ben Ransome, a 40-something marine biologist living modestly in Monterey, Calif., is anxious about his 16-year-old daughter's summer stay. It's been nine years since they've seen each other, and when Caddie arrives, she's a bit icy toward her wayward father. Ford explores vividly and honestly a teen girl's longing for love and a place in the world. He then furthers the theme of finding one's self when Ben meets Hudson, a Ph.D. candidate in town to investigate an unfinished Steinbeck manuscript. The men bond over stories of Steinbeck's Monterey and instantly become pals. As Caddie finds a man of her own and a heretofore straight Ben grapples with his feelings for Hudson, Ben also learns a few things about fatherhood. A deft sense of place and a handle on romance—both Ben's and Caddie's—that's neither sappy nor shallow will help set this one apart. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Single parenting, even for a summer, can be challenging, as divorced dad Ben Ransome, a marine biologist less in tune with drylanders than with those in the ocean, learns when his 16-year-old daughter gets reacquainted with him in Monterey, California. Named for the first species Ben found on his own, Cadlina—Caddie—has been sent by her exasperated mom for an attitude readjustment, sans pot, sans cell phone (lest she plot an escape with her friends), but not without pills to dull the pain of staying in an isolated, dilapidated beach house that reminds her "of a diseased tooth." Grad student Hudson Jones is in Monterey, too, writing a thesis on a presumably lost, homoerotic Steinbeck manuscript. When Ben surprises himself by falling for Hudson, lives and worlds entwine and collide in a moving tale of multiple comings-of-age. Including beautifully detailed descriptions of watery depths—clearly heartfelt labors of love—Ford's latest should delight armchair scuba divers as much as the usual gay readership. Scott, Whitney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758210604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758210609
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,288,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Thomas Ford is the author of more than fifty books in genres ranging from humor to horror, literary fiction to nonfiction. His work for adult readers includes the best-selling novels What We Remember, Changing Tides, Full Circle, Looking for It and Last Summer, and his five essay collections in the "Trials of My Queer Life" series. As a writer for young adults he is the author of Suicide Notes and Z (forthcoming in 2010), and under the name Isobel Bird he wrote the popular "Circle of Three" series. In 2009 he signed a 3-book deal with Random House for a series featuring Jane Austen as a modern-day vampire. The first book in the series, Jane Bites Back, will be published in January, 2010. His work has been nominated for 11 Lambda Literary Awards, twice winning for Best Humor Book and twice for Best Romance Novel. He was also nominated for a Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award (for his novel The Dollhouse That Time Forgot) and a Gaylactic Spectrum Award (for his short story "Night of the Werepuss").

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
CHANGING TIDES is slower in getting off the ground than Michael Thomas Ford's previous novels. However, Ford has more to say about human strength and frailty here than he has in his earlier books, and like great literary masters of the past, he takes his time in setting up this seemingly simple but truly complicated story.

All of Ford's novels have been beautifully crafted and well realized, but this time around he's scaled back the scope of the narrative to look more deeply into the nature of relationships, specifically between a father, his daughter, and a young man looking to expose a buried truth.

Ben Ransome is a marine biologist, living in Monterey California, more comfortable with the denizens of the deep than human beings. He's shut himself off from others and in so doing, shut himself down. He has no real idea of his own true nature. His work is quite literally his life

Into Ben's narrow world come two very different individuals, his sixteen year old rebellious daughter, Caddie, dumped in his lap by an ex-wife weary of dealing with her, and a young gay man, Hudson Jones, on an academic search for hidden truths behind the relationship between local legend, novelist John Steinbeck, and his best friend, scientist Ed Ricketts. Ben must deal both with Caddie's open hostility towards him, and his growing feelings for Hudson.

This novel is a great deal more subtle than Ford's prior offerings, and many of his readers may find that fact disappointing. I must confess that it took me almost the first third of the book before I really understood where Ford was going. But once I began to look more closely at what Ford was actually saying and less at the surface story, I found his direction enthralling.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ben Ransome is a middle-aged marine biologist in Monterey CA, who has substituted devotion to his job for any semblance of a social or love life. Into this solitary cocoon comes his rebellious 16 year old daughter, Caddie, whom her mother dropped off to live with him for the summer. Ben has no parenting skills, as was obvious during his marriage that broke up nine years before, and Caddie mistakes his seeming indifference for not loving her, which is far from the truth. A distraction comes along in the person of Hudson Jones, a young ambitious graduate student who came to Monterey to do research for his masters thesis on a personal relationship with another man may have influenced John Steinbeck's writing. Hudson and Ben become good friends, and perhaps more than friends, as suspected first by Caddie.

I have long been a fan of Ford's novels, and consider his "Full Circle" as one of my favorites of all time. "Changing Tides" is similarly well written, and skillfully explores the nuances of a developing friendship and romance in a situation where it seems illogical and possibly foolish to disturb what currently passes for a satisfactory life to risk it all on what it might become. At first read, the book seems wordy and rambling as much as 100 pages in, establishing the characters and seemingly providing lots of technical details about Hudson's research into the life of Steinbeck and Ben's observations about unusual aquatic life. It doesn't become clear until later that these actually double as metaphors for the situation that Ben, Hudson and Caddie find themselves in, putting those emotions in perspective.
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By Mel S. on September 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ford has another winner with Changing Tides.

Ben is a successful marine biologist. However, he is a mature man who doesn't seem to know who he is because his life has been wrapped up in his research. He has not really had successful relationships. Then he meets Hudson who comes to the area to do research on Steinbeck. They strike up a friendship. Almost without them realizing it, their friendship evolves to a higher level. Ben is forced to rethink his past relationships and especially his views on his own sexuality. As a result, he emotionally matures and faces a much brighter future.

Ford is an excellent writer. Anything he produces is worth reading. Changing Tides is no exception. His knowledge of diving and marine life is obvious as he creates an interesting backdrop to the story. He can always be counted upon to develop full and memorable characters. His development of the teenage daughter is this story is spot on.
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Format: Paperback
Overall
While this book started off slow (perhaps even extremely slow), I felt it was worth holding out for the ending. The style of writing was enjoyable and with the constant references to Steinbeck, I feel like something of the story (whether it was writing style or plot progression) harkened back to it, although I haven't read much/any Steinbeck, so I can't say for certain.

The development of characters is the main focus of the story, with the romantic relationship taking the back seat of the bus although it does play a critical role in plot creation. While this was a long and at times slow book, I felt it was worth the time it took. As long as you're not looking for a quickie, this is a good place to go, especially if you can find it in your library, like I did.

Strengths
Character development. Perhaps the most important part of this novel is the development of the characters as they progress from their individual roles to the braid they form with each other. Ben, who verges on socially inept, would rather spend time with sea slugs than people, especially his daughter. At least until he meets Hudson, a graduate student studying literature and doing his dissertation on Steinbeck. Hudson makes Ben more human, and Ben incidentally makes Hudson realize he's chasing ghosts, while both of them are needed to help Ben's daughter. The tiny advancements each person makes through the story is interesting to watch as each small victory often doesn't seem like a victory at all.

Final plot. While the build up is important, the end plot is well executed, both in the climactic scenes, but also in how the story is tied up. While I don't think the final sex scene was necessary (and was a little heavy handed), it was important to the characters.
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