Reviews for Evening Ferry
Booklist Reviews 2005 July #1
After escaping Snow Island and a girlhood of disappointment, divorced Rachel returns to care for her recently injured and widowed father, Nate. Sorely missing her mother, Rachel makes tentative reconnections to the isolated island folk and her own memories. In an effort to reach out to her, curmudgeonly Nate leaves his wife's secret diaries for Rachel to find. Soon Rachel discovers her mother's unhappiness in an unforgiving climate, the secret correspondence Phoebe has with a priest, and the truth behind the institutionalization of Rachel's youngest brother. There are two stories unfolding: Rachel's, as she slowly readapts to the island as its one-room-schoolhouse teacher, and her mother, Phoebe's, as she also adjusts to the remote and harsh living the New England island demands. The unhurried pace, simple and recognizable characters, and lyrical descriptions will draw readers into this Vietnam War-era novel, but astute readers will be one step ahead of the plot twists and may be disappointed with choices made by Rachel and other characters. ((Reviewed July 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 April #2
Second in a projected trilogy (Snow Island, 2002) about the stifling warmth of small-town life.It's 1966, the Vietnam War is in full swing and divorcée Rachel Shattuck, 32, is learning to be grateful for the peace of her solitary life. When her hard-drinking father, Nate, breaks his leg, she is at first reluctant to help. Nate is a cantankerous creature, and Rachel blames him for her Down syndrome brother's institutionalization and her late mother's unhappiness. Her dutiful nature prevails, however, and she heads back home to Snow Island, an isolated backwater with only one telephone. She is rewarded by finding her mother's diary, which casts new light on her family history. Towler's story is at its best in these diary excerpts, bits and pieces that voice the discontents of a traditional wife in a fresh, engaging way. But the narrative spends most of its time with Rachel, a woman too relentlessly nice to provide much impetus for anything as vulgar as a plot. Her friction with boorish Nate is resolved time and again by her retreat with a sigh of lofty aggravation to fix him soup. Brainy, broodingly handsome, 18-year-old Nick falls for her, but at the first whiff of impropriety Rachel backs off, again frustrating the reader. Whenever anything threatens to happen, she takes swift action to reassert the eventless dreariness native to Snow Island, which the author tries unsuccessfully to present as a haven of uncomplicated joys. Throughout the story, the weather is brutal, books are hard to come by and the unintelligent townies make obvious jokes, spy on each other and complain of boredom. Yet the logic of commercial women's fiction demands that Rachel decide to stay there forever and marry a childhood friend for whom she has lukewarm, sporadic affection; their main point in common is that each prefers to live alone.Too leaden and conventional to be salvaged by the fine diary sections. Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 May #5
The second volume of Towler's trilogy (after Snow Island) continues the story of a small and isolated New England island, picking up over 20 years after the end of the first book, in 1965. At 33, Rachel Shattuck, a recent divorcee and schoolteacher who grew up on Snow, has lived most of her adult life on the mainland. When her widowed father, Nate, has an accident, Rachel returns home for the first time since her mother's funeral the year before. Frustrated by the island's persistent insularity-despite the specter of the Vietnam War-Rachel's perspective begins to shift when she finds her mother's diaries from the 1930s and '40s. She reads of her mother's disgruntlement during the early years of her marriage, the constant money struggles, the often harsh conditions on Snow and her increasing immersion in the Catholic Church. As Rachel better comprehends her family history, she also realizes that perhaps her home is on the island after all. As with the first installment, Towler succeeds in bringing the small island community to vivid life, and the introspective characters are sympathetic. Though the novel lacks a sense of urgency, it is gracefully written, and the subtleties of family life should keep readers interested in the continuing saga. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.