cover image SEA GLASS


Anita Shreve, , read by Kyra Sedgwick. . Time Warner AudioBooks, $26.98 (, abridged, four cassettes, 6 hrs., $26.98 ISBN p) ISBN 978-1-58621-269-8

This serviceable production opens with Shreve explaining how her book took shape: she envisioned stories behind colorful glass fragments washed smooth over time by the sea. As in the author's previous novels (The Last Time They Met and The Pilot's Wife), the setting is the New Hampshire coast. It's the 1920s, and Honora marries Sexton, but not long after their marriage, things go awry. Honora grows disillusioned with her new husband and falls for McDermott, a good-guy union organizer at the mill who's sweetly taken Francis, a fatherless 11-year-old mill worker, under his wing. When a strike at the mill turns ugly, some of the book's main characters are shot dead. Grieving Honora goes to live by the beach with Francis, who adores her. Shreve divides the book into small segments introduced by a character's name, which can be a powerful device. Alas, it does not work especially well with audio, as listeners may have trouble differentiating between the various voices. Nonetheless, actor Sedgwick reads well. She handles the tone of each scene nicely, and long, somber musical passages indicate the abridgement points. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, Feb. 11). (Apr.)