Piney Point Island is home for Claire. Claire’s mother, a volatile, unstable person had trouble putting down roots. She didn’t plan to stay on the island, and every few years threatened to leave, but then her mood would blow over and stay they did. Their neighbors, the Flannerys, became a second family to Claire. Mr. Flannery, a high school teacher, charmed Claire and his own daughters, Juliet and Cordelia, by quoting Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and the other masters of English poetry. But Mr. Flannery wasn’t just a romantic dreamer, he was good about money too. Over time, he bought up property at one end of the island and built houses for his daughters. When he built a new house for himself, he sold his original house, just a cottage, to Claire.
Claire, barely twenty and a waitress, was proud to have the money for a down-payment, and she was determined to make the little cottage her home for life. But then into her life walked Richard Danthe, a rich boy doing penance for bad behavior by working as a pizza delivery man. Claire fell for Richard and after they married, she helped him develop his career. But once Richard’s business grew, they moved to Charlotte, far from the island and the sea that Claire loves so much.
Claire’s marriage to Richard, which had been stale for years, is finally undone by Richard’s dalliances with two high school girls. As The Woman Who Loved the Sea opens, Claire is back on Piney Point Island. Claire has no plans, except to watch the sea, paint, and renew her friendship with the Flannerys. Cordelia and Juliet are the same as ever, but they are worried about their father who is drinking too much and appears to be under the spell of Leslie Orange, an ambitious realtor. Ms. Orange want to develop Piney Point, and she has allies, including a boorish artist whom she is playing off against Mr. Flannery. Claire aligns herself with Cordelia and Juliet, but what help can she be when her vengeful husband Richard is intent on compelling her to come back to Charlotte? And then, there is that new mystery man in her life–a beachcomber who admires her paintings and excites her passion–and who comes and goes like the tide.
In The Woman Who Loved the Sea, Robin Ford Wallace mixes the familiar elements coastal development and a vengeful spouse with fantasy and a bit of Shakespeare. It makes for an interesting read.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.