Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
Pub. Date: November 3, 2015
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Putnam!)
But the car’s new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle’s life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.
Genre: Historical Fiction
For decades Annabelle has been keeping her secrets tucked safely inside. When she comes across the vintage car Pepper restored, she doesn’t think twice about paying the exorbitant amount ($300,000) because, to her, that car is worth far, far more. As she takes Pepper under her wing and invites her into her house, Pepper slowly unravels Annabelle’s past. A baby. A Jewish lover. A Nazi husband. One fateful night across European borders and a romance that spanned countries and years.
I’m the type of reader that loves sinking into a thick book and getting inside the characters’ minds (though, let’s be real – is there another type of reader?) When I come across a novel that so thoroughly captivates me, I typically finish it in a sitting. Two if I’m able to pace myself and savor it. Along the Infinite Sea was that read. It seeped into my bones, had me living and breathing these characters. At 452 pages, this isn’t a short novel by any means, but I could have easily (and happily) read another 500, 600 pages.
It’s funny how the world works sometimes. Months ago a friend gushed over a Beatriz Williams novel, heaping it with praise and – bam – onto my To Read list it went. Since then this friend has read another novel of hers and, again, I heard nothing but the highest of remarks. Right on cue I received an ARC of Along the Infinite Sea and I knew this was no coincidence. With four previous novels under her belt (and another due out next year as well as stories featured in two upcoming anthologies – be still, my heart!) I’m flabbergasted she’s avoided my radar for so long.
Thank you, Universe. Thank you, Pam. Thank you, Putnam. Along the Infinite Sea is the kind of novel that emotionally wrecked me, tore me open and completely rearranged my insides, left me breathless and spellbound. And it managed to do it all with a smile. These are the reviews that make me feel so inadequate as a blogger. Those okay, decent, middle-of-the-road novels are easy to critique. Novels so horrendously awful are a cinch to rip apart. But these, these elite group of oh so very, very special books have a way of attaching to my heart and leave me unable to string together a coherent sentence.
AAAAHHHHHHH OMGOMGOMG THIS IS AMAZING READ IT NOW!!!!!!! ♥♥♥
That is the type of review I find myself gravitating toward with books like this one. The exclamation mark-laden, capslocked, starry-eyed run-ons. I’ve barely even discussed the book itself, only the effect it had on me. Is that the mark of a truly wonderful novel? Is that the kind of marketing and buzz this book deserves? I’m not sure (and, naturally even then I feel I haven’t done it justice.)
Along the Infinite Sea alternates between Pepper’s and Annabelle’s stories in 1966 and Annabelle’s in the 1930s. Dual eras are my absolute favorite kind of historical fiction and while I loved the way the chapters were handled, I noticed a distinct bent. There was far more ‘screentime’ devoted to Annabelle’s past rather than Pepper’s present. While I loved Annabelle’s story, I was curious about Pepper and wanted to know more. The novel simply ends and I feel this was very much Annabelle’s book.
This novel is part of a series, following each of the three Schuyler sisters. This is my first and easily worked as a standalone, though trust me, you’re going to want to read the others!
Along the Infinite Sea is hands-down a Top Read of 2015. Those 452 pages caused the real world to melt away, and instead became my world. The characters came alive, the cities were so richly detailed. My mind is a blank slate right now. I’m sad it’s over, but so thrilled I discovered this wonderful, wonderful author. Look out, Ms. Williams, we’re about to be spending a LOT of time together.
The winners will be announced Sunday, November 8 and they will have 48 hours to respond before I pick new winners! US only.