It is a credit to Hatton’s intelligence that her depiction of Margot’s relationship with Ricketts is neither overly sentimental nor polemical ... With intelligent, painterly prose, Hatton adds the story of Margot to the cast of characters who inhabited Cannery Row, suggesting that it is love that ultimately best connects past to present. To read Monterey Bay is to be invited to go back in time, and to join the party.
One of the many interesting aspects of Monterey Bay is the way it occupies a tertiary kind of narrative space. Hatton’s version pays homage to Steinbeck without taking what he wrote about Ricketts at face value, even as her version of Cannery Row and its inhabitants does not adhere strictly to the historical record. It’s a delicate balancing act, and Hatton accomplishes it with panache ... More than mere pleasant reading for the beach, Monterey Bay gets to the heart of a remarkable place, a vanished time and a singular relationship.
It's an audacious ploy for a neophyte novelist, to share a character, or hijack one, from an eminence like Steinbeck, who practically wrote the book on colorful characters. The result is decidedly uneven ... A strength of Hatton's approach is her delicate yet dramatic descriptions of sea creatures, most of which few readers will have encountered ... The true grounding for Hatton's novel comes not from imagistic frou-frou, nor from fanciful meta literary strategies, but from the author's experiences growing up in Monterey Bay herself, during which time she worked long hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You feel she knows her stuff, and there's poetry in it.