Read One, Skip One: Sweetland and Along the Infinite Sea

December 17, 2015 Mini Book Reviews 28

After having a bit of an unexpected hangover from Sweetland and having trouble settling into my next book, I thought a recovery book was in order. I was sure Along the Infinite Sea would hit the spot and was planning my next installment of my Alcohol & Advil feature. Alas, Alcohol & Advil will have to wait…

Sweetland, Michael CrummeySweetland by Michael Crummey
Fiction (Released January 19, 2015)
336 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary: As the tiny island town of Sweetland deteriorates, the Canadian government offers the remaining residents a monetary package to “resettle” elsewhere, but Moses Sweetland doesn’t want to leave his home.

My Thoughts: Sweetland is an incredibly moving book that slowly crept under my skin before going in an unexpected and intriguing direction. It begins as a portrait of a tiny (and quirky) town before moving into a world where reality is hazy. Some reviews noted that Sweetland‘s Canadian Island dialect takes some getting used to, but it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I found much of the writing downright gorgeous:

He looked up at the hills surrounding the cove, sunlight making them ring with meltwater. He’d always loved that sound, waited for it each spring. Hearing it made him certain of the place he came from. He’d always felt it was more than enough to wake up here, to look out on these hills. As if he’d long ago been measured and made to the island’s specifications.

Moses Sweetland is a lovable curmudgeon (a character type that gets me every time…see A.J. Fikry!) and the book has a Grumpy Old Men vibe as Moses and his equally eccentric neighbors rib each other day after day. I loved the way Crummey gradually revealed surprising background information about the town’s history and each of its residents…in a way that reminded me a bit of Did You Ever Have A Family. I’m thrilled to have finally been introduced to this Canadian author (thanks, Shannon and Naomi!) and been able to slide Sweetland into my Best Books of 2015 list at the last minute.

Along the Infinite Sea, Beatriz WilliamsAlong the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
Historical Fiction (Released November 3, 2015)
461 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Putnam) via NetGalley

Plot Summary: In 1966, pregnant and alone Pepper Schuyler sells the Mercedes Roadster she found in a shed at her sister’s Cape Cod house to the mysterious Annabelle Dommerich, who has quite the story of her own.

My Thoughts: It literally pains me to write this review because Beatriz Williams is one of my go-to authors for light, but entertaining page turners about family drama and wealthy people behaving badly. Along the Infinite Sea is the third book in the Schuyler sister series, focusing on Pepper, and unfortunately, my least favorite of the three.

The story is told in duel perspectives and timelines: one focusing on Pepper in 1966 and one focusing on Annabelle’s experience of falling in love during the lead-up to World War II in the 1930’s. Williams has surprised me with family drama twists and turns in all her previous books, but the plot twists in Along the Infinite Sea just weren’t that eye-opening. And, while Williams usually includes some romance in her books, it felt a bit heavy-handed and drawn out here.

For anyone interested in trying Beatriz Williams (and I think you should if you like family drama page turners!),  I recommend starting with A Hundred Summers, one of my fall-time favorite beach reads.

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28 Responses to “Read One, Skip One: Sweetland and Along the Infinite Sea”

  1. Shannon @ River City Reading

    Sweetland is one of those books that totally didn’t sound like *me* until I read it. I do love a loveable curmudgeon, but usually need more to make me jump in – in this case it was the writing that hooked me. So glad you loved it.

    • admin

      The writing was so amazing! I also think the whole premise kind of appealed to me b/c it reminded me of a section of The Prince of Tides…the whole government resettlement thing. Thank you again for your review…that’s what really brought it to my attention!

  2. Naomi

    The writing is gorgeous, isn’t it? And, I also love those curmudgeonly old men – the reason I also liked The History of Love so much.
    Sorry your ‘advil’ didn’t work. I will keep A Hundred Summers in mind, though!

  3. Alissa

    Just finished Along the Infinite Sea last week and completely agree with your review. Hopefully with this trilogy complete, Williams will move on to new characters, get a fresh start and write another great book along the lines of One Hundred Summers.

    • admin

      Ha – glad to finally find someone who agrees with me! I feel like most reviews of this one were glowing! A Hundred Summers is still my fave…followed by Tiny Little Thing. Looking forward to seeing what she does next.

    • admin

      It’s not critical to read the other two books first, but it does make things a bit more interesting. And me too, but lots of people loved it.

  4. Carmen

    A curmudgeon resembling A.J. Fikry? Maybe I should give Sweetland a try. I have seen this book featured on several sites lately.

    • admin

      Sweetland isn’t the exact same type of lovable curmudgeon as Fikry (huge age difference, for one), but definitely in the realm. I just love that type of salty character!

  5. Shaina

    Oh, I am *all* about my curmudgeons and really adored A.J. Fikry! I’ll have to check out Sweetland over vacation…

    Sorry the Advil portion didn’t work out quite as planned, but at least one out of the two was stellar, right? 😉

    • admin

      Yep – I’ll take it! Can’t ever turn my nose up at a book that made my Top 10 list! Definitely give Sweetland a shot!

  6. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I definitely have Sweetland on my wish list because of your opinion of it. I do wish you had loved AtIS as much as I did. I was disappointed in one aspect of the story but loved the others. I guess we all kind of win some and lose some. Differing opinions is what makes for good discussion. 🙂

    • admin

      Hmm..you have me curious about which part you didn’t like! I’m not a big romance person, so this book just felt much heavier on the romance than her others have.

      • Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

        Well, I was disappointed in how Pepper’s piece of story ended…or didn’t really end, I guess. I felt it was too open and didn’t wrap up anything for her, and it felt like I only got glimpses of Pepper and her strong personality. I loved the flee from the Nazi party and how Williams tied all of the familiar characters together in that era. That storyline captivated me more than Pepper, which is ironic because I bought the book specifically for Pepper’s story.

  7. Amanda

    You’ve sold me on Sweetland for sure! Bummer about Wiliams though, I also really enjoyed A Hundred Summers. I am hopeful her next book is better!

  8. Judy

    I was going to give Sweetland a miss because…well for several reasons: sounds too sad mainly. But I haven’t read one negative thing about it and now you are on the bandwagon. So OK, it goes on the TBR list and if it makes it into the TOB final list, I will look forward to reading it.

  9. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    Okay, well, I don’t feel quite as bad now for DNF-ing Along the Infinite Sea; I was pretty bummed about it. I just couldn’t really get into it, not like I was able to quickly feel absorbed by her others; I thought it might just be the time of year or the marathon or whatever, but I really have no interest in getting back to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • admin

      Haha – I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one! I felt like so many other bloggers were raving about it!

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