Connie May Fowler, Author Doubleday Books $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-49842-5
When starry-eyed Matilda Fiona O'Roarke (Mattie) meets burly, romantic Proteus Nicholas Blue (Nick), she's a clerk at a Tallahassee convenience store and he's working for a logging firm. He tells her he comes from a long line of rugged Greek-American fishermen who believe they're descended from dolphins and, as such, are destined to die at sea. Nick hopes to thwart fate, but when a fellow logger is killed on the job, Nick realizes that land is just as dangerous as water and returns with Mattie to his home on Lethe, the Florida coastal island his forebears settled. Initially, Mattie finds the extroverted Blue clan overwhelming, but her shyness disappears when Nick's widowed mother takes her under her wing. Soon Mattie is a fishmonger like Nick, and she learns more about the Blue family's heritage and their belief in myth--Nick is named for Poseidon's son, and the island recalls the mythological river of forgetfulness. Domestic traumas unfold, with Nick's black-sheep brother, Zeke, abandoning his teenage son to Mattie's care, while another brother, Demetrius, struggles with his infant son after his wife's desertion. Nick is strong and sensitive, a loving husband to Mattie, a man who cries when she reads him Hemingway and who saves the lives of stranded baby turtles and butterflies. Mattie is haunted by her own sad history of paternal abandonment and maternal neglect. She tries hard to be perfect, tending house, earning an accounting degree, harvesting vegetables and culling shrimp. When the inevitable Blue curse claims Nick, newly pregnant Mattie remains with the family she has come to love. Though much of the narrative is awash in nostalgia, and the allusions to Greek mythology are forced, Fowler writes lyrically of the Florida coast. The love story carries strong appeal, and Fowler's tender portrayal of Nick and Mattie's idyllic relationship will please romantics everywhere. BOMC selection; national author tour. (Feb.) FYI: Fowler's previous novel, Before Women Had Wings, was made into an Oprah Winfrey Presents TV movie and won the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award.
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000
Release date: 01/01/2000
Hardcover - 304 pages - 9780385498425
Paperback - 320 pages - 9780345439246
Analog Audio Cassette - 4 pages - 9781574533378
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 9780307416537