I see that I've posted several reviews in the last week. What does that mean? For one, it means that winter is hanging on here. A little snow almost every day and temperatures too cold for much outside activity. Today my husband and I attended a gardening program put on by a Master Gardener Group, which just makes the frozen ground and chilly temperatures a little harder to cope with. Hopefully, we will both be energetic and ready to tackle all the yard/garden work when spring actually comes. Until then, I can read.
I continue to read new books with Lake Superior settings when I run across them. Peter Geye has built a solid reputation as a writer with his two novels set around the big water. In Safe from the Sea, Noah, married and settled in his career out East, receives a call from his father in northern Minnesota. His father Olaf, once Noah's hero and then later some stranger that Noah could neither understand or admire, is ill. He wants his son to come to the family's remote cabin. Immediately, Noah makes the trip to his father's side with no idea what to expect. He does, however, know what he is leaving behind - a wife who insists that her biological clock and their need for a child supersedes even a few days with his aging parent.
As November winds blows and the beauty of yet another winter begins to settle in, Noah and Olaf forge a new relationship. Author Peter Geye artfully reveals the deep emotions that lie behind the "strong silent types" like Olaf. At the core of his strength, but also at the center of his failings as a father and husband, is the shipwreck of SS Ragnorak in 1967. Olaf was one of only three survivors, and until now, he had never told his son what happened in those icy Superior waters.
I've read dozens of books with family reconciliation and forgiveness as their themes; this is a strong contender to be the best. Olaf faces his coming death with an unmatched dignity and strength, at the same time he finally opens up enough to salvage a true relationship with his son. In the end he leaves a legacy of truth and love of family that will reach future generations. For those in love with the big sea of Superior, the talk of ships, taconite loads, and the shipwreck itself will make you hope that Geye continues to write. I was delighted, when within the first five pages, Noah makes a stop at the Duluth Maritime Museum. For the author, it was a device to "fill" the reader in on Olaf's past as a shipwreck survivor. For me, it was one of those great connections to a place I've actually been. From that page on, I knew I would enjoy this book. Check out the author's website to see other reviews and to learn about his other book.