Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes
Pub. Date: April 29, 2014, orig. 2007
Source: e-ARC via netgalley/publisher (thank you, Penguin!!)
Summary: When Mike Dormer heads out from London to a small seaside town in Australia to kick-start a hotel development, he expects just another deal. But Silver Bay is not just any seaside town, and the inhabitants of the eccentric ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel – the enigmatic skipper Liza McCullen, her ten-year-old daughter, and her legendary shark-catching aunt Kathleen, as well as the crews of the local whale-watching boats – swiftly begin to temper his own shark-like tendencies. He is left wondering who really has the greater right to the bay’s waters. As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, and the effect on the whales that migrate past the bay begins to reveal itself, Mike’s and Liza’s worlds collide, with dramatic results. New, unforeseen hazards emerge to confront both the creatures and the McCullen women. How close can you get, before you end up destroying what you love?
Genre: Contemporary, JOJO
Last summer my life as a reader changed when I discovered Jojo Moyes. Until then it was virtually unheard of for me to read books in a single sitting or stay up later than normal to squeeze in just one more chapter. It was even rare for me to read an author’s entire backlist – unless it was someone I truly adore, I would have my favorite series or standalones and not worry about the rest. Then Jojo came along and I found myself staying up later, reading longer, and tracking down old titles. At this point it’s a given that she’ll be a 5-star read and she hasn’t let me down yet (not that I expect her to).
Liza McCullen lives with her 11-year-old daughter in the tiny seaside town of Silver Bay. She makes a living giving whale and dolphin tours and doesn’t envy the larger (and louder) tourist destinations in the area. Her aunt is something of a local celebrity, 50 years previously Kathleen caught the largest shark on record and the fame helped keep their small hotel and whale museum afloat. Unfortunately, while the residents of Silver Bay might like the peace and quiet, it’s the other islands that are bringing in money.
Mike Dormer is a corporate hot shot, having worked his way up the ladder and has his eye on becoming partner. He’s engaged to the boss’s daughter, has a swanky flat in London, and is granted the kind of peace that only comes from never having to worry about money. His latest project nearly tanks until he volunteers to find a new location for a resort. His research takes him to Australia, more specifically, Silver Bay. The bay would be perfect for a water park, a spa, a hotel. The longer he stays in the town, however, the more he comes to see just what Silver Bay really means to its residents and when he gets the chance to see whales up close his once-firm resolve begins to falter.
Let’s get this out in the open: I love Jojo. Absolutely love her. That said, Silver Bay wasn’t my favorite and for a good part of the beginning, I actually had a hard time getting into the story. I became overwhelmed with the technical terms the whalers were using and Mike’s trysts with the secretary didn’t impress me. I have complete faith in Jojo, so I stuck with it and am so glad I did! Once Mike flew to Silver Bay I was hooked.
As with Jojo’s other novels, Silver Bay features a wide cast of characters and they’re all given screen-time, so to speak. I’m a HUGE fan of multiple narratives, so you know this was totally okay by me! Not only was it a treat to get inside the heads of some of the secondary characters, but it was also a great insight into Liza’s past. Only Hannah (Liza’s daughter) and Kathleen know the true story of what really occurred that made Liza flee London, but the other characters know something happened. Why was she so cold? Why did she close off her feelings? What on earth was she so afraid of? The other whalers speculate and over time the details are told. I won’t give any spoilers, but I’ll just say I think all of Jojo’s books should come with a box of tissues. I have yet to make it through one dry-eyed!
There were twists I didn’t see coming and some I could have done without, but overall, this is Jojo Moyes and she’s phenomenal. If you’re brand new to her, 1) you should seriously fix that! and 2) Silver Bay shouldn’t be the book you go with for an introduction. If you’re a long-time fan, however, by all means pick this up! Any Jojo is a great Jojo and Silver Bay is no exception. I laughed, I cried, I was thoroughly captivated.
There is something compelling about life-or-death drama, even when it involves an animal. But for me the compulsion to look always brought with it a slight queasiness, as if being so interested in it was indicative or something deficient in my character, something exploitative and cold.
I couldn’t explain it properly to her – but I’ll always have a sister. Letty not being alive anymore doesn’t make me an only, just half of what I was.
A lucky few know their purpose in life from an early age. They recognize in themselves a vocation, whether it be religion, art, storytelling or the spearing of sacred cows. I finally learned my purpose in life on a clear dawn at the start of an Australian spring, when an eleven-year-old girl took my hand and trusted me with a secret.