Cover Image: The Ocean House

The Ocean House

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Member Reviews

This book is a series of short stories about a group of people who are loosely related. I found it hard to follow and the characters were not well developed. In a couple of the stories, I finished without knowing what was going on. The setting was to be the Jersey Shore but only one of the stories took place in Long Branch. I was hoping for more about the setting as I live on the Shore.. 
I received this ARC from the publisher and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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The Ocean House reads almost like a novel, not a series of short stories.  Almost every one reference back to the others, giving the reader a complete experience of several characters once finished.  Well written and enjoyable - recommended.
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I wanted to love this.  I'm a big fan of anything set at a beach, especially the jersey shore.  But the beach wasn't a big factor in this, and I was confused at times whether different chapters were related or standalone.  I can see how someone could be a big fan of this style but it was just a little hard for me to follow.
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Although this was a collection of short stories, I am sorry to say that it was still quite difficult to follow and somewhat erratic in its delivery.  I found that the lack of continuity made it hard to relate to and difficult to enjoy and relate to the characters.  While I remain grateful for the opportunity to read the advanced copy, I apologize that it did not make a very big impression on me.
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This book was super good. It was super original and I flew through it. It didn't feel like anything I've read in the past. Can't wait to read more from the author!! This book was unputdownable.
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An interesting compilation of loosely connected stories surrounding a family in coastal Maine. Not what I was in the mood for at the moment, but well done.
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This is a collection of connected short stories, but any of them could be read as a stand-alone. I think it's well-written on the sentence level, with beautiful prose and intriguing details. However, I felt a great deal of distance between myself and the characters, and that kept me from engaging as much as I prefer when I'm reading fiction. I was flat-out confused by what was happening in one story about a farm; I felt like I was reading Faulkner or something. So if you're intellectual and enjoy complex literature, I think this could be a book you love. I am more of a populist in my taste for contemporary fiction, so it wasn't my cup of tea. But I am still glad I read it, because I like to know what's out there in the world of literary fiction.
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An intriguing family saga. Loved this one!

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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A lovely short story collection. At first, these stories appear very quiet, but they're actually quite dark, and circle around dysfunctional families and tragedies. Compared to some contemporary fiction that's very "raw" and voice-y, this collection feels like a breath from the past, but in a good way. The prose is thoughtful and controlled, and the craft and light touches really show. These stories really make you think.
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Your Review
Laura rated it liked it
14 days ago
I struggled with this one, third person narrators just aren’t my favorite way to read a book and this one jumped around between characters and stories a lot. Well written but just not my style. Read full review
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This was a book that was constructed of short stories revolving around a very dysfunctional family and the different people who came in and out of it. It begins with on the jersey shore and takes you on a wild ride. I will admit that it was a lot different than i thought it would be, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it was an amazing read. I was glued in. I won't leave any spoilers but I'd definitely say buckle your seat belts and be prepared for a rollercoaster ride!

Thank you NetGalley and Mary-Beth Hughes for this ARC!
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This was my first time reading anything by Mary-Beth Huges.
I enjoyed the binding of these stories:
“The Ocean House”
“The Healing Zone”
“Here You Are”
“The Elixir”
“The Pitch”
“Fragile X”
“How the Poets Learned to Love Her”

Mary-Beth begins with the title story: “The Ocean House”...which sets the mood for the following stories.....(its unsettling- presenting complex human relationship with unsentimental compassion).
The characters - a mother - a stepmother - a father - two young girls - young boys - a crime - all leave us feeling a range of emotions - 
...... a travesty was set in motion.... delicate sorrowful issues arise, besides a surprise hurricane. 

 In “Outcast” ....we meet an au pair named Lee-Ann .... who comes to work - stoned for Faith .... help with the kids Cece and Conner.
Lee-Ann is a character - all of fifteen years old - with tattooed fingers a bronchial cough from smoking - and a flirt with drug dealers. 
A mother’s dream as her children’s caretaker.   

Each story unfolds as if they can stand alone and/or be connected to the story before and after: both!  

The trick to what Hughes does lies in the utterly lifelike quality of 
everyday details... and the secret, graceful ways in which that detail becomes revealing.   

Some sample excerpts that had me pause:

          “For a couple of years, Faith and Owen slept on a mattress on the floor-like hippies”. 
“But... Owen always wore a tie and she herself ironed every garment she wore”. 
“A mattress and an iron, what more do we need? They laughed and sat in the back-porch steps, sun setting orange, bright as foil in the pricker bushes low near the water. But once Cece was conceived they got serious about furniture”. 

     “Recently her mother had told her an ugly story she disbelieved but couldn’t quite forget. Long ago, in the first days of their marriage, Faith‘s father had decided to rename her mother.  This was just one of many tall tales. At Easter, Irene had sat shrunken down over her lamb dinner like a castaway finding food for the first time in weeks”. 

     “If anything, she seemed more gone than ever and that made her tender with him, that and the white dark-purple sky and the sparkling pool. For one night they nestled in a bed that smelled like fresh bamboo and excellent weed and he whispered into her sleeping ear: come back”. 

     “Oona’s mother could fade away to black at will. And then Arthur was left alone with all that terrible, terrible fury.  Cursing through the blood, Cece, as if all fury were identical and biological. She made her hands move like to fish swimming in unison. Feisty fish who may feel good and exciting but created misery and discord wherever they swam in Arthur’s system. His pounding heart? His migraine headaches? His teeth. Naturally, from that moment on, Arthur had his ears open—where the fish were especially seductive— for a new play therapist”. 

     “In moments of sorrow, weariness, elation, loneliness, and every day frustration Arthur sometimes still believed that Oona’s mother also loved him in her heart”. 

There is so much going on in these stories.....
Hughes makes ripples from one act so involving you can’t pull away.  

Thank you Netgalley, Grove Atlantic, and Mary-Beth Hughes
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I received a free digital advance review copy of this book from Grove Atlantic/Grove Press via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

I enjoyed this book, though it was not what I expected basis on the description. My interest initially was piqued by the setting at the Jersey shore, though that setting only really factors into the opening segment of the book and is not a pivotal feature throughout. The subject matter overall is dark and weighty, dealing with failed relationships and loss. The book is not a traditional narrative bur instead is structured more like a series of short stories. It was not immediately apparent to me whether the stories were stand-alone or loosely connected or intended to be read together as part of a whole. Still, the book held my interest as the structure provides glimpses of the progression of several of the characters' lives and relationships with each other. While the author does not fill in all of the connections and details for the reader, sufficient breadcrumbs were provided to keep me reading and trying to put the various puzzle pieces together from the vignettes focused on different characters at different points in time.
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A series of interconnected stories about a dysfunctional extended family and the employees who join the extended family. The matriarch, Faith, seems critical and disdainful of almost everyone she knows. I did not get interested in the characters or the writing. Couldn't follow the myriad adventures and storylines.
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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review 

I’m very familiar with Long Branch and reading about this family in its heyday really took me back there. Great dysfunctional family story with a sharp sense of place and time.
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