Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Magical Realism in "The Cottage At Glass Beach" and Other Stories...
The Cottage At Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri is a strange book and I mean that in a good way. As an example of the Magical Realism genre, strange is good. In this genre, the setting is our ordinary real life world. The story takes place on a small island off the coast of Boston. It is the childhood home of single mother Nora, who returns with her two preteen daughters after the break up of her marriage. This is a very ordinary scenario that readers are familiar with.
Most of the book does deal with realistic situations such as the anger of one daughter and the conflict with Nora's cheating spouse. The magical elements are brought in so subtly that at first the reader is not really aware of them. We are introduced to Irish Myths through the book Nora was given as a child which relates to her ancestry. We are told that Nora's mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances when Nora was young. We have suspicions about the sudden appearance of the stranger, Owen Kavanaugh, who seems to have the sole purpose of helping Nora and her aging aunt.
In fact, a weakness of the book, lies in the fact that the "Magic" only happens at the end of the book leaving you with an "Okaaaaaay...." response to the ending. It doesn't seem credible because it is sprung on the reader all at once in spite of the fact that there were clues, as stated above, along the way.
Other books of the Magical Realism genre I have enjoyed are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Magicians by Lev Grossman.