... a glittering Wunderkammer for our age, a staggeringly varied history ... Barnett’s painstaking attention to detail renders particularly poignant the irony of the impact that the oil trade has had on marine life ... a glorious history of shells and of those who have loved shells. It is a history of fascination and of shame. It stretches our capacity to absorb new knowledge. It is as complex, multichambered and beautiful as its subject, and if Barnett can awaken our sense of wonder, then perhaps there is hope for jump-starting our collective sense of responsibility toward the oceans and one another.
At several points in her enthralling new book, The Sound of the Sea, Cynthia Barnett warmly recalls her memories of shelling on Sanibel, the southwest Florida island long a mecca for seashell collectors ... offering readers a fascinating history of the shellmakers and of the multitude of ways they have interacted with and shaped human beings.