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Safe from the Sea Paperback – September 12, 2011
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"A beautiful bookall shipwreck and rescue."Alyson Hagy
A rich, satisfying novel about family members who make amends after a lifetime of estrangement.”The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"an estranged father and son find reconciliation in the final week of the father’s life Geye tackles the subjects of death, dying, and living with admirable insight and courage Geye engages the complexities of family dynamics skillfully and handles especially well the kind of family grudges and misunderstandings that can cripple relationships for decades, as they do here. Inspiring, wise, and enthusiastically recommended for all readers." Library Journal
A reader can just about feel the cold spray of Lake Superior and taste the softness of the lefse . The best sections of "Safe From the Sea" are the stories Olaf tells, and the questions Noah asks, especially about the tragedy of the Ragnarøk. What we expect from a man vs. nature story is not that man will win, but that man will be wise and valiant, and give it everything he has. Olaf's account of the wreck lives up to the great tradition of adventure storytelling. His pain about the shipwreck is not only survivor's angst, but also specific guilt about a lost shipmate that he has never shared before . Olaf's last wish presents Noah with a watery physical challenge of his own, and gives the back end of the novel a touch of fairy tale, a la late John Cheever.”The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A finely crafted first novel Give this book to readers of David Guterson and Robert Olmstead, who will be captured by the themes of approaching death and the pain and solace provided by nature.”Booklist
"At once a Great Lakes adventure, an ode to a vanished life, and a gorgeous examination of the healing of deep wounds between father and son. This is a tautly written gem."Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road
[A] lyric story of familial strife and reconciliation Geye excels at capturing the importance of life’s seemingly small moments and at cataloging their beauty Geye shows how relationshipshowever flawed the participantscan be salvaged and strengthened when people strive to make things work through understanding and the search for and sharing of the truth.”ForeWord Magazine
Geye is a skilled and subtle observer. Throughout the book, readers are given an affectionate and perceptive view of roughhewn northern Minnesota, not only its Walden-esque lakes and forests, but also its thrifty and honest people Geye is a gifted storyteller Geye might wince to read this, but he could be a first-rate adventure novelist. He also excels in creating characters who are ordinary and exceptional at the same timehigh praise for any author. The characters in Safe from the Sea are maturely-crafted; there are no heroes or villains in the book, just good people working through tough issues with grace and good humor.”The New York Journal of Books
Besides being a page-turning delight, his book is beautifully written, and the relationship between Noah and Olaf is one of the greatest father and son stories I've ever come across. This is a stunning novel...”Steve Yarbrough, author of Safe from the Neighbors
"Peter Geye has rendered the Minnesota north shore in all its stark, dangerous beauty, and it is the perfect backdrop for this deeply moving story of conflict and forgiveness. Safe from the Sea is a remarkable debut."Ron Rash,The Cove
"A deep hearted novel of bitten lives lived out on the cold shore of a ferocious world. In the silence of their existence, the dignity of their bearing, Geye compassionately renders the magnitudes of their despair, endurance and greatness." Robert Olmstead, author of Coal Black Horse
I don't know of another novel that better captures that stormy North Atlantic up in Minnesota called Lake Superior than Peter Geye's compelling debut novel, Safe from the Sea. He captures the wildness and the cold and braids those figurative aspects into a tenderly told story of a son and a father who has been anything but tender a riveting sea tale memorable.” Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago
This is a character-driven story and one that demonstrates the power of memory and the bonds of blood, a story of love and hope.”bookviews.com
Peter Geye’s Safe From the Sea, which I’m actually right in the middle of right now, but I can already tell that this is a special book. Lyrical, loaded with compassion for its characters, one of which is this arresting, dangerously alluring coast of Lake Superior. This is a gripping wonder of a book.”Bruce Machart, author of The Wake of Forgiveness
What starts out as a simple story of reconciliation soon reveals itself as something much deeper. After receiving an unexpected call from his estranged and ailing father, Noah Torr journeys home to make peace with the former ore boat sailor. When his father finally tells the story of the shipwreck that haunted him for the past thirty-five years, Noah gains valuable insights that allow him to start fresh with his own growing family.”Northeast Minnesota Book Award citation
Impressive.”--Inland Seas, Quarterly Journal of the Great Lakes Historical Society
Top Customer Reviews
Geye's wonderful description of the Lake Superior shore, the ore boat Ragnarøk, and the family cabin pulled me into the novel. He tells a riveting story of not only an epic storm but also of people whose lives were forever changed.
Mr. Geye writes touching descriptions. Well-drawn scenes are Noah's discomfiture at following the directions to his father's house, the boyhood memories that flood him as he pokes around his father's shack and Olaf returning childhood mementos to his children. The lack of cell phone reception at his father's home mirrors the strained communication between Noah and his wife, Natalie.
More eloquence permeates what is not said than what is. Although the dialogue is somewhat stagnant and slows the plot, certain parts of the narrative are haunting. Noah visits the maritime museum and views the artifacts and photos from the shipwreck around which the secret of the book lies. Particularly unforgettable is the placard beside a photo identifying the thirty shipmates before they sailed. The voices of the twenty-seven men, who lost their lives when the SS Ragmarok foundered in a gale in 1967, echo through the museum. Stormy Lake Superior provides a perfect metaphor for the ravaged lives of the three survivors who vanished when the ship went down.
Safe from the Sea is about reminiscence, broken familial relationships and reconciliation.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
From the moment I was introduced to Noah, I felt a strong affinity for him. It was obvious the years had taken their toll -- just as they had on his father, a man I was determined to dislike but ultimately could not. Olaf -- reticent; headstrong; self-sufficient -- isn't accustomed to asking anyone for anything. But in reaching his hand out to Noah, and doing it on his own terms, I felt I could accept and love him. Just like his children do.
In telling the story of the Torr family, Geye chooses each word carefully. Never once did the pacing falter; never once was I weighed down with detail, with too much superfluous information. We're told what it is we need to know. But in reading SAFE FROM THE SEA, it never occurred to me to think about what was missing. All I could do was feel grateful for all I was given.
Like Noah and Natalie's relationship, for example. Loaded down with the stress of trying to start a family, the couple didn't seem to realize that they already had: with each other. Watching their interactions move from strained to tender was very emotional, and I found any dislike I had for Natalie and her perceived selfishness melting away. Despite everything, they understood each other. They longed for each other. It was realistic and heartbreaking and wonderful.
It's been a long time since I found a book that so moved me -- a book I couldn't help talking about with friends and coworkers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Actually, I would prefer to give it a 4.5 because at times, some of the language felt overworked. Otherwise, the author captured the atmospherics...place emerged as a character. Read morePublished 16 days ago by M. A. Gates
I love the North Shore of Lake Superior and am fascinated with the history of shipwreck. This book combined many of the aspects of b oth of these venues as well as lovely story... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cathy Jansen
Geye manages to develop a tense and energetic novel despite most of the action occurring by way of dialogue (one character tells a story for a significant part of the book). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Professor Midwest
It features an excellent plot concerning the relationship of father and son.Published 15 months ago by Ann D. Shafer
The author draws you in so you can imagine yourself in Duluth/North Shore. The part that was least believable was that he found a parking space in Canal Park. :-)Published 17 months ago by Martha
North Shore Minnesota resident Olaf Torr has summoned his estranged son Noah home from the East Coast. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Patricia Hagerty
Great story. Fantastic storytelling! Waiting for Peter Geye's next novel.Published 21 months ago by Sharon Bushnell