PositiveNew York TimesElle Bishop, the narrator of Miranda Cowley Heller’s appealing debut novel, has spent every summer of her 50-odd years in a family cabin in the backwoods of Cape Cod ... To say, as reviewers like to, that she \'gets the details right\' would be to exoticize elements that feel as natural in Heller’s hands as the early-morning swim Elle takes, when the novel opens, after a tumultuous night ... Doubly blessed when it comes to descriptive powers, Heller is as good on nature as she is on interiors ... The novel’s \'past\' narrative, which traces Elle’s infancy, childhood, adolescence and eventual marriage, also rings true to the reader — so true, in fact, that at times this novel starts to feel like a memoir with an infidelity plot tacked on ... Rather than working in the service of the story, the accumulation of so many minor characters, and the highly specific detail of everything from Elle’s grandmother’s estate in Guatemala to her stepfather’s best friend’s farm in Vermont, suggest a faithful, factual recounting — whether or not they have anything to do with Heller’s real life.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"Memoirs that have a ripped-from-the-headlines event as their catalyst often need to pad the narrative to reach book length. Weiss gets surprisingly good mileage out of a trip to Wilensky’s hometown, Roslyn, Long Island ... Weiss has a wonderful eye for the evocative detail ... While the portrait of Wilensky is fully if sometimes laboriously drawn, it is the energetic, appealing yet fallible Mrs. Weiss who will be harder to forget.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWriters have long found poetry in sailing. Lynch’s skill is to find it in the mundane tasks and motley milieu that underpin glory on the water: boat maintenance and the quirky (stoned and hung over) savants who do it ... Lynch’s profound familiarity with this world endows his narrator with an appealingly blasé expertise in all things nautical but also a tender side for those who lack it. He is wonderful on the panoply of owners, too, touching briefly on the fat cats with their vanity race boats while lingering, with real affection, over the live-aboard dreamers at the 'hobo marina' ... This is an incredibly robust evocation of the sailing world of Puget Sound. That, and the memorable portrait of Ruby Johannssen, carried me through the final pages of the novel, in which several plot lines are somewhat hastily wrapped up. Unlike his namesake, Joshua Slocum Johannssen doesn’t circumnavigate the globe, but in this lovably obsessive work, Lynch’s microcosm will do just as well.