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Susan G. (Charlotte, NC)
Character and place
Readers who enjoy protagonists who change over the course of a story and readers who enjoy an evocation of place will both enjoy this book. Christina Schwarz is a writer gifted with the ability to bring characters to life on the page. Female characters are particularly strong in The Edge of the Earth.
Mary M. (Beverly Hills, FL)
A Fascinating Story
Trudy's transformation from a young, properly raised urbanite to a strong marine biologist is carefully and realistically traced. The gorgeous and foreboding northern California coast also comes to life. Schwarz's descriptions of the fog slowly rolling back from the coast mirror the way secrets are slowly revealed in the characters lives. Lighthouse lovers will enjoy the descriptions of the hard work of keeping the light on in the late nineteenth century, before electricity took over. I couldn't put this book down. I think book clubs would enjoy it.
The Edge of the Earth is a captivating tale of people who are not as they initially seem, and a place that is so much more than it first appears. Trudy is a young woman at the turn of the century, who is intellectually curious and bright. She is expected, however, to behave as a proper young woman, marry her childhood friend, and settle into the life of a housewife in 1880s Milwaukee. Instead, she meets the mercurial and ambitious Oskar, who is determined to make his mark as an inventor, discoverer, revealer of some great truth, any great truth, to the world. They marry and Oskar takes a job as a lighthouse keeper across the country in a remote area of coastal California. The other keepers on the island are a seemingly stolid and serious family, the Crawleys, mother, father, four children, and the wife's brother. But Trudy's life changes dramatically as she learns the rhythms of life on the island, explores the fascinating natural world around her, and finds out that the Crawleys are so much more than they first appear. There are secrets and more hidden in the rocky coastline and in the woods and sea around her. (The descriptions of the natural world and the state of 19th century science is a bonus.) At the same time, her husband grows more and more obsessed and detached from reality. This riveting story drew me in gradually, but finally, I was not able to put it down. It is ultimately a story of strength and redemption, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it. There are a few unlikely coincidences, and perhaps some shaky plot devices, but they are comparably minor. This would be a great choice for a book club.
Mary Lou M. (N Royalton, OH)
Was looking forward to losing myself in "The Edge of the Earth", unfortunately this never happened. The development of the main character, Trudy, definitely something missing here. Previously read "Drowning Ruth" by Christina Schwarz, loved it, this novel does not compare.
Bonnie B. (Port St. Lucie,, FL)
A LIfe Unexpected
Trudy lives a stable and boring life in Wisconsin. She is planning to marry Ernst but, when when she meets Oskar, she is strongly drawn to him. She decides to marry him instead of Ernst. Together, they go to a light house island in California and Trudy finds out that Oskar is not what he seemed to be. She discovers some wonderful and surprising things on the island.
Jane H. (Indianola, IA)
The Edge of the Earth
I was disappointed with the characterizations. They did not run deeply enough for me. Most of the emotional life of this novel rested on geology and not people.
WOW! What a beautifuly written book! The details and swift pace keep the reader entranced, and the characters come to life through their secrets and ruses. The main character, Gertrude Swann, is the pivotal person that keeps this story magical. Once you start this book, it is impossible to put down!
Ilyse B. (Howell, NJ)
Historical Fiction at it's Best
I love historical fiction, and this book did not disappoint. I could not put it down. In addition to a very strong sense of time and place, this book has extremely well developed characters and a very vivid writing style that allows you to see the story as you are reading it. Add in some mysterious elements and an increasing sense of menace, and you have a very successful and atmospheric novel. Highly recommended!
Elizabeth W. (Newton, MA)
Clear your schedule, and prepare for a treat . . .
Christina Schwarz's The Edge of the Earth is a wonderful treat. Schwarz's prose is crisp and vivid. She makes the California seashore, the lighthouse where she lives, and all the creatures around them materialize on the pages. The story of Trudy, her husband Oskar, and the other residents of the lighthouse is compelling. The characters are original and believable (except Oskar at a time or two), and the dialogue is done well. What keeps the book from being perfect? Very little. The frame chapters at the beginning and end of the book don't fit as seamlessly as one might like, and the final dramatic event has a bit of the "deus ex machina" about it. Nonetheless, those are mere quibbles. Get the book, and clear your schedule.
Loren B. (Appleton, WI)
This was a very enjoyable read; part family saga and part mystery. I found the characters to be believable and well-developed, especially Trudy who seems to discover the secrets of her habitat and fellow inhabitants little by little like an archaeological dig. The history of the area was also very interesting and never intrusive,but part of the story.