I was unsure about reading Anita Diamant's Good Harbor (man it hurts to spell the title like that) when I first read the back blurb. Two middle-aged (give or take) women who forge a friendship while walking on the beach? Sounds like a snore-fest. And yet, I love the beach. And some of my best conversations with girlfriends are on the beach. And, my mom did highly recommend it. And Diamant's earlier novel The Red Tent remains one of my all-time favourite books. And Good Harbor was more of a novella so not much of a time commitment. All things considered, what did I have to lose?
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Good Harbor is so unlike, but equally revealing of the importance of women's relationships with each other, The Red Tent. Kathleen and Joyce share a connection through modern Judaism that seems almost circumstantial. Their real connections are through their struggles as mothers, as wives, and as humans. There are rich themes here of love, loss, time, mortality, faithfulness and forgiveness that Christian, Muslim, and atheist women - and probably men - can equally relate to.
As a story Good Harbor started a little slowly for me, but by the middle of the book I'd taken my familiar stance - reading late into the night, trying to stir dinner with a book in my hand, stealing moments away from my family to read just a few more pages. Slowing down to savour the ending. Grieving and celebrating and identifying with Kathleen and Joyce.
I've said many times how much more I respond to strongly written characters than I do to a tense plot; Good Harbour offers some of both, though in the end these ladies are women I want to know more of, and that's what sticks with me.