First Novel Syndrome

Even the cover is atmospheric.

Even the cover is atmospheric.

Recently I was at Mom’s down in Dartmouth, MA. She has a ton of books so I was looking for some reading material for the summer. I picked out Moon Tide: A Novel by Dawn Clifton Tripp because the author lives in the next town over, Westport, and the book is based in that same town during the 19′ teens. I asked my Mom what she thought of it.

“I didn’t finish it…I couldn’t get into it…read it and you’ll understand why.”

I skimmed the first few paragraphs and immediately thought, “First Novel Syndrome.” Here’s a sample from pages 8-9:

When Elizabeth was twenty-one, she met Henry Lowe, the only son of a prominent Transcendentalist. She married him the following summer under the grapevined trellis in his father’s apple orchard. Lowe was a graduate student in zoology at Harvard, obsessed with the relationship between the migration of glaciers and obsolete fish. He shared the belief of his professor, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, that while climactic and geologic change could bring about extinction, each new species was a thought of God. He helped Agassiz start an experimental school for marine science on Penikese, the afterthought of an island off Cuttyhunk on the fringe of a deep rip shoal in Buzzards Bay.

[…]

They made love in the juniper woods and Elizabeth lay there afterward, her bare arms scathed in sunlight on the dark cool soil. She looked up toward the new pine shell of their house rising against the sky, the inside still damp with the smell of mason’s glue and paint mixed from a base of linseed oil. She did not know then that in less than a year she would bear a son and her husband would leave to go in search of God among the ice floes…

In fairness, I am reading the novel to the end. So far there’s a servant having an affair with the local grocier and a young girl, whose mother committed suicide (the body found by the girl) and in her grief, the girl hoards food to watch it rot. If I knew this stuff went on in my area of the world, I would have moved out much sooner than I did.

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One response to “First Novel Syndrome

  1. Pingback: That’s Writing « The Recovering Protestant

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