My rating: 3 of 5 stars
March is Women’s History Month and so the books I plan to read this month are all written by female authors 🤩💁♀️
I kicked things off with this little-known Kristin Hannah as she writes female characters sooo well! I’ve read 5 of her books so far (The Nightingale, Firefly Lane, Night Road, Winter Garden and The Great Alone) and if there’s one thing Ms. Hannah does remarkably well is show the importance and strength of the relationships among her female characters.
However, unlike the other K.Hannah’s I have read, this is not a novel about the relationship between mothers and daughters, or between sisters. It is a novel about a marriage in crisis. About the challenges and joys of keeping love alive during difficult times. About lost passions and how women are expected to give so much of themselves to their marriages and their children.
Distant Shores is the story of married couple Elizabeth and Jackson Shore who married young, raised two daughters and weathered the storms of youth as they built a family. But after the girls leave home, Jack and Elizabeth, aka Birdie, quietly drift apart. When Jack accepts a wonderful new job, Birdie puts her own needs aside to follow him across the country. Then tragedy turns Birdie’s world upside down and in the aftermath, she questions everything about her life–her choices, her marriage, even her long-forgotten dreams.
My favourite thing about this book is how much I identified with Birdie, and with Birdie & Jack. After devoting her golden years to her family, Birdie is now a woman who has lost a piece of herself and needs to take the time and have the courage to go in search of who she wants to be in the middle of her life. And I deeply resonated with that not because I am a middle-aged woman, but because like Birdie I have also lost my passion and am currently on a quest to get it back. There were many insights in this book that deeply resonated with me and if I were the annotating type, I would have annotated the hell out of this. Ms. Hannah also gave Jack a voice in this story by showing us his fears, insecurities and challenges, which gave more insight and nuance to the story as he and Birdie’s lives are inextricably intertwined and their marriage is the core of the story.
Even though this is not a novel about the relationship between mothers and daughters, or between sisters, the author showcased Birdie’s support group through her best friend Meghann. On that note, I loved how Birdie and her stepmother Anita were able to form a relationship once Birdie saw the truth of Anita’s character. However, that storyline was not as well developed as it would have been in a later K.Hannah book, but I suppose that is because marriage is the core of this story, not female friendships.
This is one of K.Hannah’s earlier works, and it shows. The writing was thin, the dialogue could get really cheesy at times and Birdie & Jack’s inner monologues got realllllllyyyyyy repetitive by the middle of the book. I still enjoyed it despite its shortcomings and am looking forward to reading Between Sisters, written after Distant Shores and centered on Birdie’s best friend Meghann, and her sister.
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** A guide to ratings **
1 star – did not like it
2 stars – it was okay
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was amazing