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Women's Review    

 

 

The Opposite Shore
By Maryanne Stahl
New American Library/Penguin, 2003
Trade paper, $12.95 (240 pages)
ISBN: 0-451-20866-8
 
 

 

Rose Campbell's life is settled, and even if she's not deliriously happy, she's contented.

Her husband, William, and her daughter, Miranda, understand Rose's need for space and time when she's painting. Several local galleries carry her work and her agent believes her latest sale will help boost her reputation.

William, a college professor, has found solace in the boat he inherited from his father. Rose likes teasing her husband about his "mistress." Miranda, who's preparing to go away for college as soon as she graduates from high school, has already started separating from her parents.

Rose's sister, Anna, who introduced Rose to William has always been very involved in their family life. She attends the openings of her sister's shows, constantly e-mails her niece, and sails with William on the weekends. They've always carefully avoided the phrase "first mate," both knowing they should not draw any attention to their underlying attraction.

As luck would have it, when Anna and William finally indulge in a kiss, Rose is a witness. Choosing the leave the scene rather than confront them, she keeps asking herself whether it's worst to lose a husband or a sister?

When a friend offers Rose and Miranda a house on Shelter Island for the summer, they accept. Pouring her conflicting emotions into her painting, she finds herself using more colors, bolder strokes, and transcending her previous work. Meanwhile, Miranda is exploring the island and discovering summer love.

The Opposite Shore is both a traditional novel about a middle-aged woman leaving her husband and a novel about the ways in which families adjust in order to remain intact. As the reader learns more about Rose, William, Anna, and Miranda, the two impulses no longer seem contradictory. Stahl doesn't allow her characters to slip into simple happy endings. 

Maryanne Stahl, who teaches at Kennesaw State University (near Atlanta), grew up in New York. Her first novel, Forgive the Moon, was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for first novel. 

Stahl's website is: www.maryannestahl.com .

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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