Guest Review of “Edge of the Earth”
By Kate Alcott
The Edge of the Earth begins with a classic scenario for adventure or disaster: a restless young woman in 1897 Milwaukee, hungry for experience, chafes at the idea of marrying predictably and living a comfortably predictable life – so she marries a dreamer, another restless soul – and off they go to ---what?
This is where Christina Schwarz’s outstanding novel swoops into refreshingly new territory. She invites us into the lives of the young couple, Trudy and Oskar, as they arrive to work at a lonely, rugged lighthouse above the forbidding cliffs of Point Lucia, California – an isolated spot filled with marine life that few have seen before and, perhaps, a mermaid.
The only other inhabitants of the lighthouse are the sturdy members of the Crawley family, including three children living wild and free. Mrs. Crawley kindly but quickly strips away for Trudy any illusion that, at the lighthouse, there is a use for fancy tablecloths – or anything else from her former privileged existence. The human secrets begin to emerge – and as you learn what they are, you will almost hear the shouts of the children and the crashing waves. And then….
But wait. This isn’t just an adventure story. What is the truth about Point Lucia?
Though Trudy is slowly drawn to nature, collecting marine samples, studying artifacts, finding excitement in documenting the creatures within a tide pool, the real heart of her experience lies with one major discovery: that of a strange creature who lives hidden in the rocks above the crashing surf.
That discovery slowly cuts between Trudy and Oskar – who, more than they realize, are indeed poised on the edge of the earth they know. It is a convergence of discovery with the grasping need to possess that takes us into the dark, eager heart of an emerging capitalist America.
In short, it’s not just about a marriage and an isolated lighthouse. This book explores the turn-of-the-century American psyche- what is won, what is lost – when, inevitably, everything changes. Once you step onto that lonely outpost, surrounded by the sea and all the mysteries within, you are immersed. Inhale deeply – you are there, caught in the roiling energy of passion, regret, loss – and always the sea. In short, The Edge of the Earth is a bold and original story that goes beyond self-discovery.