Lights on the Sea

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

“A home is built from our experiences, from the people we meet along the way, and, more than anything, from how we decide to journey through life. Life is movement. A precarious equilibrium that can change in an instant.”

Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Crossing for the free review copy of Lights on the Sea by Miquel Reina for my honest review.

Mary Rose and Harold have a very mundane life. They go from day to day just surviving. One night a storm comes and lightning strikes the wires that are holding the house and the ground and the piece of rock splits. They are off to sea. The further north they go, the more dangerous the adventure becomes. This is their story of how they deal with all of the obstacles in their way while trying to get back to their tiny island.

This amazing book is a story about how they go from living a mundane and ordinary life to figuring out how to live, survive, and learn to love each other and life they that they have again. 

This was my first translated book. It was so beautifully written. I highly suggest this book. The story is heartbreaking and breathtaking and I didn’t want the story to end.
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When I picked up the book felt a lot like 'The Room'. One quickly sees the parallels in the story structure, yet Lights on the Sea makes for an interesting read. The end seems too quick and the plot is too easily resolved. The writing is catchy and the book flows quickly. It's an easy read and you are introduced enough to the characters to appreciate or detest them. I got this book from NetGalley and would definitely recommend it.
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Magical story. I love books in translation, especially ones by Spanish writers. This book brings to mind so many great ones I've read, The Alchemist, The Prisoner of Heaven, The House of Spirits, Like Water for Chocolate, and many others.  A bit of magical realism is a wonderful thing in a story! I can relate a bit to the Grapes. It would be fun to live in a house that floats out to sea.... Good book to read and mull over during these winter days.
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book for an honest opinion.

This is the story of an older couple whose house falls in to the sea and floats. Its the story of love and redemption, with many dramas along the way. This would be a fabulous read for a book club , because I can just see all the different opinions coming through about the book in the discussion phase. Well written and descriptive .
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I really enjoyed this.  I found a lot to mull over, and really enjoyed the way in which it seemed to transcend genres, almost.
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Strange, magical, quirky delightful, there are many different ways to describe this novel. A parable, a fable, an allegorical treatise on loss and aging, among other definitions on how this book can be read. Harold and Mary Rose Grape, the names alone drew me into their story. A ship in a bottle, a house that floats, a helpful dolphin, are all details that stick in my mind. 

Now elderly, about to lose their house, a house that holds all their hopes and dreams, a special house particularly the how and why in which it was built. A huge storm will change all that, and now life, living will require special skills. Their journey is the stuff of dreams, hallucinations, because their journey should be impossible. It is this journey, a journey that requires some major skills, that will give the Grapes, one last chance of a fulsome life. That will let them come to terms with their unbearable loss, forgive each other and themselves, and let them see that life can still hold surprises. 

A well done and very different read, but one that holds a very big story and some unbelievable but brilliant imaginings.

ARC from Netgalley.
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A truly magical book that resonates with one’s humanity and strikes a chord with what unites the peoples of the world rather than what divides us.
Never more than a story about a simple couple growing old together it becomes a takes on a life of its own through fantasy and parable. Not looking outside for divine intervention but revealing within ourselves by embracing others and being accepted by them. We learn deeper truths and the power of life and the wisdom of living it in the right spirit.
Harold and Mary Rose have much to be grateful for but when then day of the notice of eviction gets closer they reflect about losing their home and their boxed up possessions.
Their home however is special. It is a shrine to their son who died at a young age while helping his dad build a boat to free the family to journey to new lands and enjoy the freedom of travel.
When they lost their son their dreams died with him and the timbers of the boat rebuilt into their home.
Even the weather seems to reflect the tension of their last night in the house, on top of the cliff, overlooking the sea.
They wake in a new reality; they are adrift. The ground and foundations of the house have given way and fallen into the sea. Miraculously, they are alive but without power or the means to steer their floating home at the mercy of the current.
Everyone back home will feel they died in the cliff fall but for now at least they are alive.
The story goes on to tell of this new reality. Their lives have been spared with their house and only a will to live and ingenuity will keep them alive.
A journey of adventure and personal insights follows. Harold and Mary Rose face death on a daily basis.
Yet through this heart warming story we learn to cry with them as we understand their sorrow and how the death of their son both unites and divides them.
A beautiful tale without a strident repetitive message but a reflection on a common life. How love can be set aside and happiness buried in grief. Not preached to you but gently shared through their struggle to survive and observations of others who hold the power of life over them. A blessing to read as subliminally in narrative, dialogue and the expanse of the ocean rich gems of lasting beauty are found. You learn the difference between a rock and a fish. Reflective, resonating deep spiritual truth through nature and surviving in extreme situations.
The floating house is a journey from grief to rest, blackness to light and clutter to abundance.  
It labels what inhibits and prevents peace. It names what subdues and prevents enlightenment. It identifies what grows but never produces life.
A book free from religious platitudes but teeming with wisdom and a spark of fire that can be captured and used to throw light on things that hold us back and free paralysed limbs to live and move.
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Reminiscent of The Life of Pi and other fantastical tales, the Lights on the Sea is an intriguing read. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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Mary Rose and Harold Grapes live in a remote house on a crumbling cliff top. They’ve been there for 35 years, grieving for their son Dylan, who died when he was just a little boy.  But now they are being evicted by the local government due to the danger posed by the eroding cliff, and are being forced to move into a retirement home. Then something miraculous happens. During a particularly wild storm the cliff finally crumbles completely and their house lands in the sea and floats away. We follow their fight for survival and it’s all very whimsical and fantastical and although it’s a pleasant enough little fable about love and loss I found it too sickly sweet and just too unrealistic for me to suspend my disbelief. Imaginative, original and well-written, admittedly, but it just wasn’t one for me.
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My usual genre is psychological suspense, but every few months I like to read something different. This novel was a perfect palate cleanse. Perfect for fans like me who love heartwarming books that leave you feeling good inside after you’ve finished reading.
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This book definitely gave me some Life of Pi vibes. It’s totally different but something about being hopeless in the middle of the sea and a constant sense of doom made me see a few similarities. This book is totally unrealistic so if a house falling off a cliff with no damage and an ability to float is too crazy for you, I’d avoid. That being said, the unrealistic nature of things definitely became a problem. I tried so hard to get into this book because of the unique subject, but I just couldn’t. The two main characters are in their 60s and it was nearly impossible for me to feel any connection to them. Most if the cliffhangers were pretty weak and every problem was easily solved or simply forgotten. This book definitely had potential to be great, but it fell short in a lot of different ways for me. Some people have totally loved this book so if the plot sounds interesting to you, give it a go as it is a short read.

Thanks Net Galley and the publisher from providing me a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

(Will post to blog and Instagram in the coming week)
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Man if this isn't one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. I'm always hesitant about reading books that have been translated, it feels they often lose some of their magic out of their native language, but I loved this. The characters in this book are so raw and relatable, you really feel like you're on this journey with them. It's a quiet, slow burn, easy read of a book, and yet you'll find yourself wrapped up and desperate to finish it. Can't wait to read more of Miquel's work.
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I am not quite sure what to write about this book in a review, as it is so very different from most of what I have read and reviewed. Harold and Mary Rose Grapes, both retired, live in a house at the highest point of Brent Island, where their house is precariously perched, held on by guy wires. They really live in isolation, with their house separating them from the community in which it is located, and they genuinely enjoy the isolation their house and its location provide.  Though 35 years have passed, the couple still mourns their deceased 8-year old son. Mary Rose, the wife, blames her husband, Harold, for their son’s death and holds him in total contempt. One night, a monstrous storm arrives snipping the guy wires that hold the house, carrying them off to the open sea. Their house miraculously survives because of its porous lava foundation, so they begin a several week journey on the open sea, full of treacherous events and encounters. When they are just about down to the very last of their rations, they spot land.  Now, they must decide whether to take their chances looking for help or to stay in the house adrift and eventually perish when rations are gone.  This is truly a unique book, filled with a myriad of interesting and challenging events and encounters that would try even the strongest of spirits. 

I found this book different and interesting. I had never read or heard about anything like it before. True creativity, in my opinion.  It was interesting to see how the couple worked their way through every encounter/event while “sailing” in their house.  The fact that the house kept floating was, in my opinion, a marvel itself and made the book more worthwhile reading. The book really takes on a life of its own, for the whole episode is both phenomenal and fascinating. The couple, though important to the story, almost take on a secondary role to that of this unique house that manages to stay afloat through “thick and thin”.  This is a book that will not leave you for a long time once it is finished. It is just so unique and different. I was captivated when I read the blurb on NetGalley and I am still mesmerized by the tale. I received this form NetGalley to read and review.
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I think Lights on the Sea written by Miquel Reina is not an ordinary fiction. This is a story that really needs attention and feelings at the same time.

All stories begin with the story of Mary Rose and Harold Grapes who live in a house, which is in the highest area of Brent Island. Maybe it’s just an impingement. But for me to describe these two characters requires a painful period after losing and grieving for 35 years, it might be real. They have lost their son, Dylan.

This is a very good time to go from this isolated place, and the government has also set the rules. They must go from the cliff or be exposed to danger from erosion. With a heavy heart, they might have to go to a nursing home.

But at the same time, that night their house was hit by a big storm. It was this great power that finally made the house collapse from its place. For me, it is the right time to tear down all the grief. Once again, I was caught up by Miquel Reina’s beautiful and tense narration.

Of course, the story won’t be exciting if they both sink. Therefore, the foundation of their house touches sea water. They both float to the surface. I don’t know why the volcanic stone finally resembles a hot air balloon. At least that’s what the two of them thought.

This adventure will begin. They must survive without food, water, electricity, and all other needs. Harold and Mary Rose were created by the God as clever humans. Very slow and full of memories, they tried to sail back to their homes. When that happens, they try to release sadness, pain, property and an island that has been preserved.

When they both find mysterious light, they realize. Old age turns out to be still supportive for living well. Trying to arrange what has been missed. This story is full of lessons.

Actually, because this was translated from Spanish, and I did find many beautiful lyrics. I have read a satisfying drama, there is suffering but also many meanings in the story in the end. I know maybe this isn’t an easy story to make, but Miquel Reina has done it well.

A unique story that is well written and beautiful.
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I went into this book not really believing the reviews.    I was skeptical that a book could be THAT good.  I was so wrong!  This book comsumed me.  I was at a quilting retreat and, instead, used it to read "Lights on the Sea" from beginning to end.  I loved everything about it.  The storyline was completely different from anything I have ever read!  The characters are elderly and you feel their pain.  The story is outstanding from beginning to end.  I have to commend the author for his great writing and to the translator for such a great job!

"Lights on the Sea" is a book not to be missed! Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Crossing for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this amazing novel.
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Lights on the Sea is a beautiful book from Miquel Reina that has a cinematic quality that is missing from so many stories. 

Retired couple Harold and Mary Rose Grapes lived in a house that was precariously perched on a cliff above the raging ocean. It's exactly what they want, to almost be isolated. Both are consumed with grief over the long ago death of their son, Dylan. Mary Rose blames her husband for Dylan's death and refuses to forgive Harold. 

On the cusp of eviction from their isolated home,  an epic storm snaps the wires that secured the home to the cliff. The home, and a sleeping Mary Rose and Harold, slipped away into the open, floating into the open water. 

This is a life or death story. Will they fight to survive? Will Mary Rose continue hating Harold? Will they ever get over Dylan's loss?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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[Review to be published October 3]
Where are we? This simple question takes on enormous existential weight for the central couple of Miquel Reina’s tender debut novel.

Harold and Mary Rose Grapes are embalmed in profound personal grief when their lives are unmoored completely in one swift move from self-imposed exile. During a tempestuous storm, their precarious cliffside home detaches from its foundations and floats out to sea. Any leap of credibility that a reader will have to make is eased by the reactions of the characters who themselves can scarcely believe the circumstances.

On the eve of eviction from their geographically perilous property, surrounded and beleaguered by the boxed dusty detritus of their lives, any further disruption is unimaginable. Reina skilfully exploits this surreal (or “marvellously real”) aspect to the story to investigate and reveal the long-buried and repressed emotions within the Grapes, the sub-conscious incrementally teased out as the journey unfolds, suggesting that healing (hard and painfully earned) is possible even years on from tragedy.

35 years ago, misjudging the severity of a weather forecast, Mr. Grapes set sail home with his young son, Dylan, only to lose him to the sea after a rogue wave capsizes their boat. At a shipyard on the other side of their island home, the two had been diligently employed constructing a private boat, intended to become the family’s permanent home. The death of the child maroons both parents in a dense fugue of despair and fathomless sadness, compounded by unspoken guilt and recrimination. The hollowed Grapes dismantled what they now perceived as a worthless project and incorporated bits of it in the home they built for themselves at cliff’s edge. Over the years, what may have been intended as shrine to the lost son has atrophied into a mausoleum.

Long-dormant, pure instincts towards survival kick in as the Grapes confront the dire conditions of their plight. Harold and Mary Rose are startled into a direct engagement with the present, awake and fighting after so many years of vacancy both spiritual and psychological.

Harold sets about solving the practicalities of electricity and potable water. Meanwhile, Mary Rose sets about restoring some order in the residence, as all furnishings and objects have shifted violently in the plunge. However, a bit more self-sufficiency and resourcefulness from Mary Rose would be welcome, overall, as behaviour occasionally lapses reductively along traditional gender lines.

It is determined the buoyancy of the property, the reason it has remained intact, is due to the unique volcanic composition of the island’s soil, which has produced a series of air pockets. Mysterious, alluring lights pulse on the horizon when exhaustion and apprehension conspire to defeat the Grapes. These are allusions perhaps to the fireflies beloved of their son or, indeed, solicitous transmissions from his soul now embedded in the universe to encourage their resolve. Reina’s immediacy of style in this section lends a thrilling moment-to-moment awareness of physical and environmental threat as the couple battle against the elements.

After near-disaster, the Grapes are rescued by the inhabitants of a nomadic tribe of people, initially suspicious, but soon compassionate. As the Grapes become enmeshed in the day-to-day activities of the community, opening themselves to cultural rituals and perspectives far from their own, it is suggested that much of an enlightened outlook springs from engagement with and appreciation of difference. When a similar tragedy to the Grapes’s own strikes a family to whom they have grown close, their considered and reflective response stirs the Grapes to confront all the years of bitterness and regret that have made it impossible to purge and move on, that has isolated them comprehensively.

“I must keep moving forward...because in the end that’s why we’re here, right? The only reason we are given life is to live it...life is a constant journey”. No blame is sought, no fault is assigned, just an acknowledged acceptance of the vagaries of existence, and how we decide to continue travelling despite them. A gentle but remorseless rebuke to a couple who abruptly ceased any motion.

With this revelation, the Grapes welcome a peace and comfort thought impossible to access. In these final chapters, Reina in his enthusiasm and delight for his characters’ breakthrough has a tendency to overwrite the dialogue between Mr. And Mrs. Grapes-they reveal themselves to one another in an inelegant overflow of self-actualised effluvium that seems more the result of absorbing the text of a self-help book. This sometimes gross overstatement can be forgiven as Reina has built so much sympathy for the duo through their adversity and hardship. They are certainly due this epiphany, but writing it descriptively would ease what sounds cumbersome and overwrought as conversational confession. This sudden effusion of talk also violates the reserved nature of the Grapes which, even in the face of tensions cracking like “dry, brittle crust”, would not so quickly transition into such loquaciousness.

Readers can already discern, through the simplest expression of behaviour and action, how matters between the Grapes are easing and thawing. The expansion extends right through to the Grapes’s property, as well, which finally shakes off the funereal in favour of vivid momentum-a fulfilment of original intentions. In the concluding segments, when Reina allows his authorial voice to reflect, he achieves some of his most moving, lyrically plain spoken passages.

Sometimes we need to get lost in order to find ourselves, reads an anonymous quote at the start of the tale. And sometimes, when we are quite unable or unwilling to motivate ourselves, the universe will set in place its own strategy. Reina’s strategy is to embody this principle so winningly, fantastically and poignantly in this inaugural work.
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Lights on the Sea is a mythic story of a meek retired couple on the adventure of their lives.

Harold and Mary Rose Grapes lead an isolated existence in their small yellow house perched on the edge of a cliff. Facing eviction due to the government deeming their house unsafe, Harold and Mary Rose go to bed after packing their belongings, resigned to accepting the inevitable. They wake in the morning, however, to find themselves in their little house adrift in the middle of the ocean. During the night the house had plunged off the cliff, and because it was built on porous volcanic rock, Harold and Mary Rose are now bobbing like a cork in the yellow house, destination unknown.

Faced with dwindling resources and terror of the open sea, Harold and Mary Rose are stressed to the limits of endurance. The couple also bears the additional burden of grief that cripples their daily life. They meet some others along the way, outsiders from a different culture who help them with their physical survival and their mental stagnation.

Although the message can be heavy-handed towards the end, it is sympathetic nonetheless. Part tall tale, part love story, Lights on the Sea would appeal to any generation of reader.

Many thanks to Miquel Reina, Netgalley, and AmazonCrossing for this advance copy in exchange for my review.
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A beautiful and endearing tale of an elderly couple who live in a house that started life as a boat, and how they find a way to embrace life after a lifetime of being weighed down by tragedy. An enthralling tale, reminiscent of The life of Pi, that is hard to put down until the end.
Highly recommended.
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There is so much to love with this book. It’s an adventure, a look at the human spirit and soul, but at the centre is an old couple and their home floating into the sea which was symbolic for so many things.

" A home isn't built with walls or determined by where we are, a home is built from our experiences , from the people we meet along the way , and, more than anything, from how we decide to journey through life . Life is a movement. A precarious equilibrium that can change in an instant."


The book reads lyrically and emotionally and it’s quite a journey. The idea of Mr and Mrs Grape living in a little yellow house on the cliffs of Brent island fascinated me and when their house goes into the sea,, the adventure starts and I was swept along with them.

It’s magical when reading it and it does pull at the heartstrings! It’s fantastical in places and the characters play the leading roles in the book. Its all about them, they carry the story and more. Then there’s the metaphors of the sea, the emotional turmoil of life, the ups and downs, the journey of a couple quite literarlaly ‘at sea’ in their lives and wait until they find land and have a life or death situation to deal with.

This novel can be read in many ways I think as it brings up a whole host of ways of looking at yourself, at your life, the direction its going in etc and a way to see what moves and motivates you too.

The translator has done a fantastic job as it reads lyrically as Spanish often does so this makes me want to go and buy the original now.

A novel about dreams and hope and everything in between. Loved it.
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