Monterey Bay: Book summary and reviews of Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton

Monterey Bay

by Lindsay Hatton

Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton X
Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton
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Book Summary

A beautiful debut set around the creation of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium - and the last days of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

In 1940, fifteen year-old Margot Fiske arrives on the shores of Monterey Bay with her eccentric entrepreneur father. Margot  has been her father's apprentice all over the world, until an accident in Monterey's tide pools drives them apart and plunges  her head-first into the mayhem of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row

Steinbeck is hiding out from his burgeoning fame at the raucous lab of Ed Ricketts, the biologist known as Doc in Cannery Row. Ricketts, a charismatic bohemian, quickly becomes the object of Margot's fascination. Despite Steinbeck's protests and her father's misgivings, she wrangles a job as Ricketts's sketch artist and begins drawing the strange and wonderful sea creatures he pulls from the waters of the bay.  

Unbeknownst to Margot, her father is also working with Ricketts. He is soliciting the biologist's advice on his most ambitious and controversial project to date: the transformation of the Row's largest cannery into an aquarium. When Margot begins an affair with Ricketts, she sets in motion a chain of events that will affect not just the two of them, but the future of Monterey as well.

Alternating between past and present, Monterey Bay explores histories both imagined and actual to create an unforgettable portrait of an exceptional woman, a world-famous aquarium, and the beloved town they both call home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Along with creating a fully realized, realistic heroine seen across decades, Hatton is a writer of often exceptional prose." - Kirkus

"Fans of John Steinbeck and his Cannery Row stories will delight in this novel. She does an excellent job of recreating the Cannery Row that no longer exists, honoring the memory of Steinbeck and Ricketts (the real-life inspiration for Cannery Row's Doc) and all the workers who once toiled there, as seen through the eyes of a precocious teenage heroine." - Publishers Weekly

"Debut novelist Hatton's authoritative writing elicits strong emotions, and in this biographically shaped historical novel she brings to life the realm of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, including Steinbeck himself, Ricketts' brooding patron." - Booklist

"In limpid prose and acutely captured sensual detail, Hatton tells the story of 15-year-old Margot Fiske, who arrives at Cannery Row with her entrepreneurial father, but snarls up his plans by getting mixed up with Ricketts - first as his sketch artist, then as his lover." - Huffington Post's Summer 2016 Books You Won't Want to Miss

"Like Euphoria and The Signature of All Things, Monterey Bay is about passion - for ideas as well as lovers - that soaks in so deeply you can't ever wash it away. By the novel's end, I was in love with Ed Ricketts and feisty Margot Fiske myself - and with Monterey Bay too, which Lindsay Hatton brings to life with phenomenal skill." - Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

"Monterey Bay is expert on the obsessive intensities of loneliness and neglect, and the way passion can grow out of rage at one's self and situation, but where it really takes flight is in its portrait of its protagonist's sensual and dispassionate engagement with the natural world as both consolation and unexpected source of power." - Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron and Like You'd Understand Anyway

"Lindsay Hatton's Monterey Bay is a tour de force of heart, history, and imagination. The novel is a love letter to the glorious Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Hatton renders its characters, human and animal alike, with nuance, originality and, above all else, rare and powerful compassion." - Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This and Corpus Christi

"A fascinating, knotted cord tethers Margot Fiske to the men in her life: not just the enthralling Ed Ricketts, but her savvy, unsentimental father and two unlikely lifelong friends. The way these characters change and shape one another, with violence, business and sometimes tenderness, is examined by Hatton with a gratifyingly light touch and a searing intelligence." - Ann Napolitano, author of A Good Hard Look

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Reader Reviews

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GM

Heartbreakingly beautiful
Heartbreakingly beautiful, Monterey Bay is an engrossing tale of love – and what happens to the people, places and things we try so desperately to preserve.

The scope of this book is staggering. In 320 pages you meet John Steinbeck, his muse Ed Ricketts, and Margot Fiske, a driven, intelligent young woman who is unwavering in her attempts to make her place in the world; you’ll travel from Canary Row-era Monterey California, to post-World War Two Manila, and back to Monterey in 1998; you’ll see the raucous parties in Rickett’s lab, learn about aquariums, sea life, and the early days of marine ecology, and you’ll meet members of the immigrant populations that built Monterey. There are fires, horse fights, flying steaks, bags of cats, and through it all, the unquestionable magnificence of one of the most incredible places on earth.

While some reviewers have pointed out that Margot is a challenging protagonist, I disagree. Though she makes some questionable decisions, she owns them, she moves on, and she’s never willing to be seen as a victim. Imagine if Edna Pontellier didn’t drown herself at the end of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, but instead swam on (and then built an aquarium) – that’s Margot.

Hatton tells it all with stunning writing that is worthy of place and people who inhabit this book. This is a book that will stay with you for a long time.

Beata

warning
If you love Monterey Bay and good books please stay away from this one. It will leave you sad and depressed, and maybe even upset. I was especially offended by the fact that the author chose to involve a character of Doc based on a real person in the affair with the minor: bad taste.

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Author Information

Lindsay Hatton

Lindsay Hatton is a graduate of Williams College. She holds an MFA from the Creative Writing Program at New York University. She currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but was born and raised in Monterey, California, where she spent many fascinating and formative summers working behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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