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Mason's Retreat: A Novel Paperback – November 14, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297624X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812976243
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,432,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Unfolding with the grandeur and suspenseful inevitability of real life, Mason's Retreat tells the story of a family on the Eastern shore of Maryland on the eve of World War II. Tilgham's prose is graceful and effortless, and his feel for the ebb and flow of familial relations is instinctual. Following up on the promise of his short story collection, In a Father's Place, Tilgham takes his rightful place among the best writers of American fiction. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Library Journal

The author of In a Father's Place (LJ 5/15/90) writes of a family's return to their ancestral land in Maryland after residing in England for many years.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

More About the Author

Christopher Tilghman, the son of a publishing executive, was born in Boston in 1946. Though he was raised primarily in New England, his life has always revolved around his family's farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His new novel, "The Right-Hand Shore" and its sequel "Mason's Retreat" tell the multigenerational story of a farm on the Eastern Shore modeled after his own. His other books include the novel "Roads of the Heart," and the short story collections, "In a Father's Place," and "The Way People Run." Currently a Professor of English at the University of Virginia, he and his wife, the writer Caroline Preston, divide their time between Charlottesville, VA and Centreville, MD.

Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
The themes of the book spring from a deep American consciousness.
D. Finlayson
I give it four stars not so much because it is great writing, but more because of the character development and the feeling that I'm left with after reading it.
12Junes
This is a book you'll reflect on long after the last page is read.
Katherine Hall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. G Jackson on August 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
A page-turning, psychological exploration,with the feel of a sprawling family epic in a spare 290 pages. Tilghman crafts insightful and absorbing portraits of an array of disparate characters to tell the story of Edward and Edith Mason, who return to America at the end of the Depression with their two sons after years living in England, and the musty Victorian atmosphere of both their family relationships and the expectations of their place in the world are a potent ingredient. Their fading pretentions of British class-superiority there have been devastated by bad business decisions and they have been forced to move to the yet-unseen Mason manse, the Retreat, on the Eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. Set in the two years leading up to the outbreak of World War II, the tensions among the four Mason family members ripple throughout their community, to include friends, lovers, and most strikingly, to their employees, including two black housekeepers and the farmhand Robert, whose racial situation in the Depression-era, rural South is rendered to clear-headed, stunning effect in many of the book's scenes.

The assured writing and psychological surprises reminded me of Thomas Mallon's "Henry and Clara", and the gathering sense of doom and inexorable tragedy, mirrored in the offstage story of Europe in 1939 reminded me again and again of Ian McEwan's "Atonement", highest of praise from me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keelan on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Well written, engrossing novel that is a continuation of the the story about The Retreat, a mansion/plantation in Maryland, and its hold on the people who own it.It's not necessary to have read the first novel; this one can stand on its own. A bit predictable, but an acceptable exploration of family dynamics. It does make usage of one of the modern novels standard catalysts for plot development- the damage that non- communication within the family will cause to those involved. Once you accept that the plot is somewhat formulaic and that the ending is predictable, you can relax and enjoy the reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J Stanley on October 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does not let you go after you finish it! The mood, characters, and setting are so well-drawn and all are hauntingly depressing. The story itself, set in the 1930s in Maryland (with ties to England), matches the era in its sadness and upheaval. The only reason I gave it a 4 is because it was just so sad and disturbing to me for some reason, but I think that's because it was so well-written that I actually felt bereaved.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Hall on July 22, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Tilghman has created a gem. In a deceptively simplistic way, he allows the reader to explore the nuances of the characters' relationships. As someone who is familiar with the Eastern Shore, every detail evoked this solitary but lovely place. This is a book you'll reflect on long after the last page is read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Christopher Tilghman's ability to describe the feelings and perceptions of each character with incredible clarity allows the reader to experience, not just read. This is a book about people, their relationships and their struggles to balance the need to live the life dealt to them, while striving for the lives they truly want.

Mason's Retreat is a book that transports you into the world of Edward Mason and his family each time you pick it up.
I enjoyed this book just as much as other highly regarded books such as Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's been over a month since I finished this book and I still find myself thinking of the characters - especially the wife, the kids, and the hired help. It may be because I live in MD, so I'm interested in the Eastern Shore. I think not though. I think I'd be thinking of these characters regardless. In fact, I've been thinking I may reread this book...something that I rarely do.

I have to say that it has some slow parts, but the pace is similar to the pace of life on the ES. I give it four stars not so much because it is great writing, but more because of the character development and the feeling that I'm left with after reading it. If the characters had been poorly developed, I would rate it a 3.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Our book club read this as a monthly selection and we liked it. The characters are well-developed and the story continues to keep your interst. The setting on the Eastern Shore of Maryland had a particular interest for our Maryland book club but it is also informative for those not familiar with the "shore". The description of the time in history and the various relationships between different classes and races only adds to the character of the story.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JOHN C. WASSON on November 1, 1997
Format: Paperback
AN EXCELLENT ACCOUNT OF AN AREA OF THE U.S. AND THE TIMES PRECEDING W.W.2.THE AUTHOR IS CLEARLY AWARE OF THE RURAL AREA OF THE EASTERN MARYLAND SHORE AND THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED THERE IN THE EARLY 1900'S. IWOULD DEFINITELY READ MORE BY THIS AUTHOR
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