PUBLICATION DATE: JULY 13, 2012
ell known author, Robin Jones Gunn, once again puts pen to paper to paint another wonderful story for us with her latest book, Cottage by the Sea.
Erin is starting out on a brand new endeavor in life. Joining forces with Sharlene, a friendship that seemed destined from the very beginning; they embark on their own wedding planning business called ‘The Happiest Day’. With a loving husband, three grown children, a comfortable home in California, and now her first day in the new business, Erin was living a life full of nothing but blessings.
With barely enough time to take in the joy of their very first customer, tragedy befalls Erin with news from her step-mother, a woman she disdains, that her father has suffered a stroke. Hurriedly she drops everything, stuffs clothes in a suitcase as she calls her husband to tell him she would be flying out immediately to see her father in Oregon; to his home known as the Hidden Cottage.
It has been a year and half since Erin has seen her father. Even longer for her brother, Tony who never had a close relationship with his father. For Erin, her strong dislike for the outspoken and seemingly harsh woman her father married, has kept her away. Erin realizes that even that could not keep her away from her father at such a time as this.
Following a short visit with her father, who seems to recover well, Erin returns home to California. The year goes by quickly with the happy news of one of her son’s engagement to a lovely young woman that will become her daughter-in-law. It’s during that wedding reception that Erin, once again, receives news that her father has fallen ill. Erin and her husband drive directly to Oregon to find the shocking sight of her gravely ill father. This visit would not be a brief one.
With decisions now being forced upon them, Erin decides to stay behind and help to care for her father. More shocking than the sight of her father, Erin must now also endure the abrupt abandonment of her step-mother who packs her things and leaves. How can this woman just up and leave her father with the only clue being that it was not what was supposed to happen? She was not supposed to be left caring for an invalid.
Throughout the reading of this book, I could not help but ponder whether Ms. Gunn has personal knowledge of what life is like for a caregiver? If not, she certainly has done her homework as she masterfully depicts every detail of the stress, hardship, physical and emotional strain of being one. Just as powerful in taking us with her on this arduous and often demanding journey, Ms. Gunn paints for us a mental picture of this wonderful cottage that sits high on the cliffs overlooking the ocean; this enduring small town that seems to come right out of a Normal Rockwell photo complete with town folk that you’ll find endearing. I found myself completely drawn into the canvas of this story.
While I was glad that the story starts off interesting from page one … building with each following chapter, I did find the middle a bit of a drop off. Much is happening in the beginning, much in the ending. It’s just a small part of the midsection where Erin spends time in reflection about her life. I would have preferred a bit less melancholy contemplation.
I enjoyed the ending of this book as things fall nicely into place. Heart wrenching at times, it is one to have a tissue close by. You will find yourself already knowing what’s going to happen long before it does. Ms. Gunn has done a wonderful job of letting us use our imagination in her well-written description of life at Hidden Cottage in her story Cottage by the Sea. It’s an excellent read but I believe that she should have left us to our own imagination and not included the pictures of the very cottage that inspired the story. I liked my vision of it much better.