Between the Tides
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Lainie Smith Morris is perfectly content with her life in New York City: she has four children, a handsome surgeon husband, and good friends. This life she has built is shattered, however, when her husband Charles announces he has accepted a job in Elliot, New Jersey, and that the family must relocate. Lainie is forced to give up the things she knows and loves.
Though Charles easily adapts to the intricacies of suburban life, even thriving in it, Lainie finds herself increasingly troubled and bored by her new limited responsibilities, and she remains desperate for the inspiration, comfort, and safety of the city she called home. She is hopelessly lost—until, serendipitously, she reconnects with an old friend/rival turned current Elliot resident, Jess. Pleased to demonstrate her social superiority to Lainie, Jess helps her find a footing, even encouraging Lainie to develop as an artist; but what looks like friendship is quickly supplanted by a betrayal with earth-shattering impact, and a move to the suburbs becomes a metaphor for a woman who must search to find a new home ground in the shifting winds of marriage, family, career, and friendship.
Between the Tides is an engrossing, commanding debut from tremendous new talent Susannah Marren.
A wonderful debut that is meant to be savored and enjoyed,
Not unlike the waves on a sandcastle at the shore, Between the Tides reveals the fragility of relationships despite the façade, and the power that is required to keep or rebuild after the façade is shattered.
Lainie is a city girl, and quite content with her life and marriage in the hustle, bustle and go of New York. But when her husband takes a position with a practice out in the ‘burbs’. The family is moving to an affluent New Jersey suburb, and Lainie’s world, indeed her entire life is turned upside down. In the city, she had the water (Hudson River) her painting and the friends that recognized those things. New Jersey, and actually Charles, are less interested in her pursuits or dreams, and he can’t see the “point’ of them.
Marren uses the emotions of Lainie and her dissatisfaction with the ‘nothing is familiar’ refrain as her life quietly (and not so quietly) resets to a new reality. New Jersey is NOT New York, and she misses the easy if mindless busy day to day, it kept her from evaluating things too carefully, or searching for a ‘purpose’. Now, even with the four children, she’s struggling for something ‘more’, something that fits her view of who she is, and what she is meant to do.
Connecting with an old frenemy (and there is no other word but that to describe Jess) plays on her feelings of upheaval as Jess is constantly in ‘one better’ mode. Dealing with that is stressful enough, but the fact that Charles sees no faults in the new home, life or area, and can’t quite understand her unhappiness, vague as it is to him, doesn’t help.
Slowly but surely, Jess invades nearly every facet of Lainie’s life: from stepping in and commenting or acting inappropriately with her children (Mathilde in particular) and her husband: it’s a sort of “Single White Female in Suburbia” model.
Lainie has the most to lose, or gain in all of this: her own family, self-respect, sense of purpose and plenty of moments leading to thoughts of boundaries, Karma, forgiveness and nurturing relationships. Marren uses several moments with broadened abstractions and asides to give a fuller sense of just who Lainie is, and those moments enrich the story greatly. The writing is wonderfully smooth, switches neatly between directed stream-of-consciousness like moments through dialogue, story-telling and a sweetly recurring theme involving selkies and the potential ‘skin’ hiding in the closet.
A wonderful debut that is meant to be savored and enjoyed, this story shows the skills and promise of wonderful things to come from a new author to watch.
I received a copy of the title via Media Muscle/Book Trib for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.