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A Year by the Sea Paperback – August 15, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I'm beginning to think that real growing only begins after we've done the adult things we're supposed to do," confides Anderson, a journalist and author of children's books (Twins on Toes, etc.). She came to this conclusion after a year living alone in a cottage on Cape Cod. Feeling that her marriage had stagnated by the time her two sons were grown, Anderson surprised and distressed her husband by refusing to move out-of-state with him when he accepted a new job. In this accessible memoir, she shares the joy and self-knowledge she found during her time of semi-isolation. In order to supplement the income from her royalty checks, she found a job in the local fish market and began making new friends who sustained her. After her hot water heater broke down and her husband refused to help, she earned the additional money for the repair by digging and selling clams. Through vivid and meticulous observations about the natural world, Anderson makes clear her strong affinity for the ocean, with its changing tides, subtle colors and burgeoning life. A Memorial Day reunion brought Anderson and her husband closer; shortly thereafter she embraced his plan to retire and live with her in the cottage. Anderson has recently begun a "Weekend by the Sea" program for women who need time to reflect.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Curling up with this autobiography will refresh readers' souls and adjust their attitudes. With their two sons grown and married, Anderson and her husband decided to take a "vacation" from their long marriage. Her husband moved on to a new job hundreds of miles away, while Anderson cocooned herself in her rusting Volvo and drove to her family's cottage on Cape Cod. During the year-long separation, Anderson reestablished her connection to nature and was able to discover new hope. She swam with seals, ran a marathon, worked in a fish market, and earned extra income clammingAactivities that gave her the opportunity to shed her image as family nurturer and allowed her to grow as an independent woman. After a Memorial Day reunion, her husband retired from his job to live with Anderson on Cape Cod. Anderson's story reminds readers not to overlook their personal needs when providing for family members. This is a good choice for discussion and a companion piece to Anne Morrow Lindbergh's classic Gift from the Sea.AJoyce Sparrow, St. Petersburg P.L., FL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st Broadway Books Trade Pbk. Ed edition (August 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767905938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767905930
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I checked this book out from the library after seeing Joan Anderson on Oprah. I read it in a day and a half saving the ending for that second day because I was so moved. I went out the next day and bought a copy for myself so I could highlight. I then bought 15 more for a total of 16 to give as a gift to every woman I knew from 17 to 76 years old. I then read it again. I then tracked Joan Anderson herself down and flew to Cape Cod to meet her for my 30th birthday by myself. No girlfriends, siblings, or husband. You do not have to be wealthy to do this, I'm certainly not. I went myself for my own week by the sea and again met this magical woman. I've never had such an experience in my life and probably never will. Buy the book - buy many and give them to everyone you know. I was 29 when I read it and found myself becoming the author in a few years time. What a blessed woman, what a blessed place, what a blessed book. Amazing.
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Format: Paperback
Before I begin this review, let me state that I have experienced most of the life changes that Joan Anderson describes in her book: from getting older to empty-nesting to (in my case) a divorce to wondering who and what I am. So I am not unsympathetic to any woman's struggle with the above.

That having been said, I almost died of boredom reading this book, and it took me weeks (during which I did not write this review) to figure out why. It is certainly sensitively and well written, and there are some lines that are well worth quoting and remembering. And it is obviously a sensitive and true story of one woman's self-discovery. So why, then, did I find it so terribly banal?

I have finally come to the conclusion that, as personal and deeply meaninfgul as these self-discoveries are, they are of interest and meaning only to the women experiencing them. I simply have no patience. I would love to commune with seals in the wild, I love the ocean, I would ADORE a beach house in the middle of nowhere, but I don't want to hear about it. And I wouldn't want to share whatever I was or was not thinking about my own deep self at any moment in time, no matter how momentous.

I know this is going to be an unpopular review, but it contains as much honesty as I can muster. Of course I can relate to many experiences described in the book--I just don't feel the need to do so. Therefore, if this kind of book is what you like and need, this is probably one of the best of the genre. If not, I would skip it.
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Format: Paperback
The writer of this book is absolutely irritating. The thought behind it -- excellent. I was actually jealous at the writer's ability to make a decision to take a year away from her marriage for reflection, and that she had the resources to do so. I relished the opportunity to curl up with her for a year, feeling sad, or happy, joyous or disappointed, as she wrote about her experience.

Instead, I found my forcefully slamming the book down at times, and at other times, heaving deep sighs of irritation and annoyance. I thought Joan was a whiner who didn't appreciate the abundance of riches she had available to her, to even think about this experiment, let alone carry it out.

Poor me, my marriage has grown stagnant. My children are grown. I'm lonely. I'm overweight. Join the club, sister. But, guess where you and most of your readers part company? Many of us are still slaving away at the 9-5 jobs which put food on the table and pay the rent or mortgage. We don't have options. We don't have Cape Cod getaway houses, multiple vehicles, royalty checks arriving, a savings account we can empty to make the leap, and a year of free time to write about our disappointments.

I don't begrudge her what she had. I just wish she would have had more tact, class and dignity not to write from a place where she felt she had to constantly lament her life, when she had more abundance -- an embarrassment of riches, really -- in that little cottage and the option to retreat to it, than legions of sad and lonely married women have.

I also have to hand it her to husband, estranged during this time, who took a few steps to make her grow up and stop whining. For instance, her cottage belonged to her family before she married and it came down through "her side of the family", not his.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a rare gift to find a soul mate between the pages of a wonderful book. Joan Anderson's style is liquid gold. I was awash in salt air and alternately displaced to Cape Cod and the isle of Roan Inish (my all-time favorite movie). The seals were a fantastic metaphor. Joan's personal pilgrimage is the dream of every woman of her generation who hopes her loved ones will discover her on her own terms. Every woman of a certain age will identify with this story for her own reason. I am also a writer who moved to Cape Cod to complete a womens novel. The outcome and motives are the same; mine is a different story. Anderson will find herself swamped with those of us who want to be her friend, neighbor or confidante. Most of us facing a coming-of-middle-age lack the courage to risk everything. She tackles her pilgrimage with strength and a marvelous sense of humor and emerges a winner in every sense. It was a pleasure to spend time with Joan Anderson. A Year by the Shore is one of those books I raced through, only to find I was sad when I finished it. I was on page 100 before I realized that my feet were cold. I grabbed a cup of tea and some socks and continued reading, saving the last 20 pages so I could savor them in the morning. This book is the perfect gift for many friends of all ages
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