Rated of 5
by Deborah M. (Chambersburug, PA)
I remembered liking Schwarz's Drowning Ruth when I read it years ago, so I was looking forward to The Edge of the Earth. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed. Perhaps it's that my reading tastes have changed . . . but I really just don't think this is a very good book. The characters are stereotypes and the plot is predictable; the writing itself is rather pedestrian. Frankly, I had to really push myself to plod through it.
The novel begins and ends in the present day. An elderly woman, who apparently lived in the now-famous St. Lucia lighthouse years ago, comes to visit with her grandson. As the tourists travel up the path, she prides herself on how much more she knows than their guide, and she launches into the central story. It's 1898, and young Trudy Swann travels with her new husband, Oskar, from Milwaukee to the California coast, where he has taken a job as assistant to the lighthouse keeper. Trudy is suitably naive and, of course, has a talent for science--particularly marine life identification and drawing--that no one has appreciated. As for Oskar, what is meant to be a rebellious nature comes off rather as petulant and spoiled. The family who lives at the lighthouse is, of course, made up of cranky oddballs, but, of course, their crankiness is only there to cover deep, dark family secrets--secrets that really aren't all that surprising. The Crawleys have a hoard of children who are a bit wild but sweet and eager to learn. But they know things that Trudy does not, and they have a collection of strange 'gifts' left to them by 'the mermaid.'
I won't go into this any further and spoil (if possible) the 'discoveries' for other readers. At this point, I became very irritated with the book--not just because what happens is so irritating (it is), but because it was so predictable and so obviously aimed at tugging at the reader's emotions and making a 'big statement'. (Can you feel the hammer?)
Another reviewer mentioned that those who enjoy Oprah selections would probably like this book. I'm not one to automatically pan anything Oprah recommends, as some do; in fact, I've enjoyed many of her selections, including Drowning Ruth. But not The Edge of the Earth.
I might have rated the book a little higher, but I was really irritated that so many better books were waiting while I struggled to finish it.