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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: #1,637,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was on a China Air 747 loaded with passengers, cargo, and fuel ready to take off from Shanghai to San Francisco. As it began its roll down the runway the plane seemed to move ponderously and lumber with great effort to leave the ground. Mr. Ford's book seemed plagued with the same difficulty. I shuffled alternate names as I read, i.e., "A Jacques Cousteau Study of the Ocean's Nudibranches" or "Woes of a Teenager" or "The Secret Writings of John Steinbeck." The book finally comes together at 60% or thereabouts. A long time to lumber. The ending seemed anticlimactic. This was a far cry from the author's earlier works.
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Format: Paperback
I've been a fan of Michael Thomas Ford's work for quite a while now, and have read some of his hard-to-find work. One of my favorite things about his writing style is how immediately immersive it is. It draws one in, into the minds of the characters, into the heart of the situations and places he describes. His books all have this quality- even the more gentle fiction he writes is powerful.

This book had me at "Descend like an angel." His rich descriptions of diving, including the dangers and intricacies, are a fascinating method of drawing one into the story. His depictions of Steinbeck's writing style, and his rather crass and brusque yet heart-warmingly realistic character portrayals made this book one I didn't want to put down.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to swim through an ocean of emotional currents, stark revelations, and definitely anyone who understands what it is to learn who you are through the pain of another.
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