Good Harbor
Anita Diamant
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Buy *Good Harbor: A Novel* online

Good Harbor: A Novel

Anita Diamant
251 pages
September 2002
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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With The Red Tent, Anita Diamant, has already proved two things: that she was born to be a writer and that she has the empathy necessary for capturing the secret world of women, in which they bond, love, cherish, encourage, guide and nurture each other. But while The Red Tent was based on biblical events of thousands of years ago, Diamant’s new novel Good Harbor is set in present day and is the story of two women, who meet on a beach in the small town of Gloucester on Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

Here Kathleen, 59, a married children’s librarian with two grown sons who's been diagnosed with breast cancer and is haunted by a terrible loss, is in need of a friend. Joyce, 42, a freelance writer, struggling with her dream to write a meanful novel, at crossroads in her relationship with her husband and daughter, is also needy. As they walk on the beach, sharing the beauty of the ocean and the surroundings, they realize that they can talk about anything, whether the subjects are taboo, small stuff or really big issues.

The story is universal. Both women deal with their inner emotional and spiritual lives as all women do: the aging and healing processes, coping with marital bliss and stress, and the life changes of children as they turn to teenagers and leave home for college. Many of the issues, such as breast cancer and the empty-nest syndrome, are ones that middle-aged women face. Their friendship becomes a lifelong bond. The book ends, with the comfortable and stable thought that

"…they would walk on the beach…Rain or shine, they promised. They would meet on the footbridge and exchange a hug. They ‘d take off their shoes and walk from one end of Good Harbor to another…They would talk about their husbands and children, their work and their bodies…Next week and the week after. Wet feet and dry feet, barefoot and shod, in heat and fog, and then bundled up against the cold…Together, at Good Harbor, they would see how it all turned out."
The book is warm, touching and very compassionate. It’s also very honest and compelling. If you don’t have a close friend, you will want one after reading this and if you have moved and you once had a close friend, you will miss her, after reading this. The story of the two women touches many chords of motherhood, womanhood and marriage. But, on a deeper level, it teaches readers acceptance of each other, without judgment. In one of the conversations between Kathleen and Joyce, the former turns to take a last look at the beach, after their walk has ended. "Look at that," she says. "I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such perfect clouds."

This prompts Joyce to ‘half ask and half challenge’ her, "you don’t have cancer anymore, right?"

And Kathleen says," I suppose so…there is no medical evidence that there’s any left…But it’s still with me."

"Oh Kathleen, I want to be able to make it all better for you. I love you, you know."

"I love you, too," said Kathleen. "And that helps."

And that’s what life and friendship is all about. Reaching out and trying to make it all "better" for those you care about.

Anita Diamant is a prize winning journalist whose work has appeared in Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting. She has written half a dozen books on the Jewish faith. Her first novel, The Red Tent, was a national bestseller and won the Book Sense Book of the Year Award. She lives is Massachusetts with her husband and daughter.

© 2002 by Sonia Chopra for Curled Up With a Good Book

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