Chance Harbor. Holly Robinson. Penguin Group (USA). October 215. 448 pp. ISBN#: 9780451471505.
Catherine and Zoe, two sisters who look like each other but couldn’t be more different, are now separated. Zoe, the rebel in the family who did drugs, dropped out of school and more, ran away, leaving her daughter Willow with Catherine and Russell. The latter seemed like the proverbially successful, married couple but are now separate as well, Russell having sired a father by his high school student Noel. Catherine is having a hard time coping with it all, especially in light of the fact that her father has recently passed away and her mother, Eve, has decided to sell the family summer home, Chance Harbor, on Prince Edward Island. Sounds like a course in Family Dysfunction 101. The difference herein is how does each character deal with the gradual revelations that initially stun all of them and what kind of new relationships develop as the family life evolves?
Numerous descriptions of beautiful Chance Harbor will engage every reader, a place where it’s safe to relax and let nature heal, if possible, what needs to be let go and what needs to be grabbed and dealt with. It’s the perfect combination of seashore and rugged living! Near to Catherine’s home are wooded and mountainous areas where hiking and fresh air also serve to relax and fully engage with the present moment! The environment clearly parallels the family’s turbulent transformation that is patiently and poignantly described.
As the story evolves, strong feelings are verbalized and secrets are revealed, especially with the undoing of Catherine and Russell’s marriage, the reappearance of Zoe who is now clean, repentant and willing to try to undo the damage she left behind years ago. New romances will emerge, one’s that respect the past and serve to accept a different kind of future. Willow is a young woman who has her own moments of wisdom and mistakes, and she is able to demonstrate how one opens up to see something other than stereotypical patterns which enables Catherine and even her grandmother Eve to realize the past need not be repeated.
Chance Harbor is a lovely novel with some very complex interactions that seem rather edgy but which are transformed at just the right moment to scenes that keep the reader fully engaged. The reader finds that he or she wants to know how the relationships of mother-daughter, father-daughter, sisters, and lovers will grow or terminate. Very carefully crafted story about love that endures the worst that life can throw, stays solid where it should and leaves behind the dross! Highly recommended contemporary fiction!