The ocean house Stories

Mary-Beth Hughes

Book - 2021

"Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma. Years ...later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother's stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present. Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith's family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore."--Provided by publisher.

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Subjects
Genres
Short stories
Published
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press 2021.
Edition
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
243 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780802157539
080215753X
Main Author
Mary-Beth Hughes (author)
  • The ocean house
  • Outcast
  • The healing zone
  • Here you are
  • The elixer
  • Dove
  • The pitch
  • Summerspace
  • Fragile X
  • How the poets learned to love her
  • California.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Eleven interlaced stories circle around two families in a wealthy community on the Jersey Shore, a place literally built on the sand, from the 1960s to the end of the century, as children grow up, or don't. Death, often accidental or self-inflicted, is a recurring motif, with those shattering events piercing the surfaces of otherwise mundane lives. Hughes (The Loved Ones, 2015) can be brutal, as in "The Pitch," a horrifyingly sardonic depiction of the aftermath of sexual assault on the campus of an exclusive college in upstate New York. But she can also be more subtle and naturalistic, as in "The Dove," in which two nearly grown siblings negotiate the expected death of their mother, or "Summerspace," where characters from earlier stories reveal how they have grown. Major characters from some stories will play minor roles in others, as in "California," where one of the Jersey Shore girls is now a "play therapist" for a broken family. Stories that could easily stand alone gain power from the reflections they cast on themes and characters of others. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Set in and around the Jersey shore, Hughes's arresting new collection (after her novel The Loved Ones) orbits multiple generations of families connected by love, grief, and estrangement. With an enviable ear for dialogue and high command of prose, Hughes finds in these overlapping stories a stark beauty amid scenes of suffering and death. In "Dove," a standout, a young man returns to his dying mother's house, sharing his vigil uncomfortably with his stepfather and a nurse who smells as though "she wore a sprig of herbs beneath her smock." In the title story, set in 1962, two sisters living in one of the "last of the great oceanfront houses left in Long Branch" yearn to connect with their lovely and unknowable mother, whose own mother was killed in the London Blitz. In "California," a young girl and her father navigate life in the wake of the mother's departure to a series of rehab facilities for substance abuse. There are many telling moments—a woman smiles at a young man because "that's what any decent person does, they say hello to goodness, no matter how small, how tangled." Hughes is a careful reader of her characters, and she captures their small, easy-to-miss moments of humanity through life's vicissitudes. These stories pack a punch. (Jan.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Years after a traumatizing incident involving a wayward teen, a woman visits her daughter in college before her own mother’s advancing dementia reveals harrowing secrets about their summer beach community at the Jersey Shore.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma. Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother's stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present. Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith's family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A stunning story?cycle?from bestselling?New York Times?Notable author, Mary-Beth Hughes, The Ocean House explores the fractured lives of families from a beach town on the Jersey Shore?as the consequences of loss pass through generations.

Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith’s family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore. In ever-tender and elegant prose, Mary-Beth Hughes masterfully explores the emotional consequences of loss and the saving graces of love.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A stunning story?cycle?from bestselling?New York Times?Notable author, Mary-Beth Hughes, The Ocean House explores the fractured lives of families from a beach town on the Jersey Shore?as the consequences of loss pass through generations.