cover image Cottage by the Sea

Cottage by the Sea

Debbie Macomber. Ballantine, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-18125-2

Macomber’s vivid standalone novel focuses on a tragedy that changes one woman’s life. When Annie Marlow loses her parents, brother, sister-in-law, and niece in a mudslide in Washington State, the guilt and pain she feels is almost unbearable. After leaving her job as a physician assistant in L.A., Annie returns to Seattle to help settle her family’s estate. Sixteen months later, Annie is still unable to move forward. Finally, she decides to move to Oceanside, the seaside town where she had vacationed with her family. Annie is hired by the town’s clinic and meets Seth Keaton, a gentle giant of a man who is a talented artist. Seth convinces his friend Mellie to lease Annie her grandparents’ cottage, fulfilling Annie’s dream of returning. Annie becomes invested in Oceanside, helping the town’s residents and embarking on a relationship with the kind, laconic Seth. When faced with the possibility of attending tuition-free medical school in Seattle, Annie must decide whether to leave Oceanside and Seth behind for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Macomber’s story of tragedy and triumph is emotionally engaging from the outset and ends with a satisfying conclusion. Readers will be most taken by the characters, particularly Annie, a heartwarming lead who bolsters the novel. [em]Agent: Theresa Park, Park Literary & Media. (July) [/em]