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Casting Off Paperback – July 28, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved this story when it was in the top 100 in the 2008 Amazon Novel Contest and I still enjoyed it very much. The only small criticism I have, is the number of characters that appear at the outset of the novel. It does get a little confusing until you get them all straight. But everything else is wonderful and I found it a most enjoyable read.
This is an engaging story of two damaged people who fight with demons from their past, trying to start a new life with room for love. Sean, wracked with guilt over the loss of his sons, has maintained a solitary, angry existence ever since. He finds a chance for redemption in his relationship with Rebecca's young daughter. But Rebecca has spent years keeping people away from herself and her daughter. As the story unfolds, they circle each other, needful but wary.
Ms. Dickson describes the life and character of the island, the way people live with each other on a tiny, storm swept pile of rocks, the way that the women weave history and personality into their sweaters, kindled within me a burning desire to see the islands myself.
As with most first novels, there are some problems: short choppy sentences, abrupt transitions, and repetitive descriptions that are sometimes annoying. Nevertheless, this was such a wonderful story that the minor defects are not significant.
It is essentially a romance, too, and there are no surprises to be had but there are some very good characters, the setting on an island off the coast of Ireland is delightfully described, and the story at least involves some actual knitting (and spinning). To be honest the only character I had a hard time warming up to was Rebecca, the main character. Rebecca, a young single mother of a precocious six year old, is working on a PhD in archeology and comes to Ireland to study traditional "ganseys", Irish knit sweaters. She is haunted by a past relationship with the despicable Dennis, the father of her daughter Rowan. Once on the island she is overwhelmed by the friendliness of its citizens all of who know her well from the stories told by Sharon, a young woman from the village who was Rebecca's roommate in college. Thus begins her education of spinning, knitting, gansey lore and, of course, a predictable but still sweet romance with the entirely too perfect Fionn.
Each chapter begins with a description of a gansey pattern taken from a fictional book we later learn was written by Rebecca's daughter Rowan. As someone who has been knitting Aran and Guernsey patterns for over 40 years I never heard of some of them but I enjoyed the "alternate" descriptions immensely.Read more ›
Unfortunately, the story is marred by poor writing and the book has a "romance" feel to it. The characters are always clutching their chests in psychic pain. They so often "widen" their eyes or "look with wide eyes" that it's almost funny. It's surprising that an editor did not take the book in hand.
It's a great story and I'd like to read another book by the author after she works more on developing her craft.
The story begins with a cultural anthropologist from the US who comes to the island with her 6 year old daughter to research the meanings of the wool, the spinning, and the knitting patterns of the traditional island sweaters in order to write a book. She is suffering from PTSD due to an abusive relationship.
During the course of the story she becomes enmeshed in the daily happenings on the island which is initially irritating to her since she wishes to remain aloof and (in typical American fashion) she has her eye on the end goal with no interest in the process of getting there. Despite her best intentions the atmosphere and acceptance she experiences slowly begins a healing process. Trust is difficult for her, but she gets caught up in a culture where the sharing of both joys and sorrows is the norm rather than the exception.
For those such as myself who love anything Irish, this was a wonderful representation of Irish culture within a complex, compelling, and ultimately heartwarming story. It was beautifully written with informative descriptions of the intricate knitting stitches. Some reviewers had difficulty liking Rebecca, but I loved watching the process she went through and the wonderful way she was finally able to accept love and gentle prodding in order to move on to a happy life.
In addition, Nicole was kind enough to tie up almost all of the loose ends at the end of the book. Personally, I really hope she will write the story of the next generation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Casting Off grabbed my attention from the beginning. I had no idea what to expect, but I was pulled in and enjoyed every word.Published 7 months ago by K Mitchell
It was uneventful until the end and I didn't warm up to Rebecca's character. The only characters that I found with substance was Sean and Rowan but only to a limited degree,... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Linda K Nichols
Rebecca Moray has long felt adrift in her life, raising her six year old daughter Rowan alone and working as an archeologist specializing in textiles. Read morePublished 14 months ago by P. Newhart