Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye – Book Review

Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
Published by Unbridled Books

After the sinking of the Ragnark and the death of the majority of its crew, Olaf Torr turns to drink. Over the next 30 years, Olaf’s family falls apart: his wife has an affair, and he becomes estranged from his son and the worry of his daughter. And yet, when Olaf calls his son Noah, telling him that he is sick and needs help preparing his isolated house for winter, Noah flies to join him immediately. Noah has been more than a little annoyed with his father, first due to the drinking and lack of fatherly affection, subsequently for some inappropriate comments that Olaf made at his wedding. Even so, he knows that Olaf would not be calling if it were not terribly important. He arrives still annoyed and distant, but in the time that follows, he falls back in love with his father and begins to understand just how damaged Olaf truly was by experiencing the sinking of the Ragnark. As Olaf begins recounting to Noah the story of that fateful night, both men begin to truly find peace with themselves and one another.

At first I was unsure about Safe From the Sea. It is very well written, but with the kind of spare prose that isn’t always capable of grabbing me. In addition, the story of the shipwreck and shipping on the Great Lakes didn’t particularly appeal to me, nor was I sure I would be able to relate to Noah and Olaf’s relationship. Peter Geye didn’t let me down, however. His prose was sparse, but also evocative, particularly when Olaf is describing the night the Ragnark sank. Olaf and Noah’s relationship is so artfully reanimated that the reader cannot help but become invested in them and their interactions with one another, not to mention bereft at the thought that they are only now coming back to one another now that Olaf is so very ill.

Although it starts out a little slowly, Safe From the Sea is absolutely beautiful and will suck you in. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher at a trade show.
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9 comments to Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye – Book Review

  • You are right, if you just read the publishers synopsis, it isn’t really inspiring. But I don’t think I’ve read one negative review on this one. Some even said it would be a 2011 favorite. This is just one of those situations where you have to trust opinions and go for it.

  • I put this on my nightstand after reading a couple of rave reviews and haven’t had a chance to get to it yet.

  • How have I not heard of this one? I going to have to add it to my wish list. Thanks for the heads up on the slow start, it might have caused me to put it down-now I know better.

  • I saw this in mailbox monday posts and thought the cover was simply beautiful! I’m glad to hear the book is just as beautiful on the inside.

  • Oh this does sounds good!

  • I loved, loved, loved this book!
    Loved it.
    It is hard to explain why somehow, what makes it so special. I am not a re-reader of books but I have already reread this one. Just telling what it is about is not enough…and I realized when I wrote my review.
    But I loved it.

  • I had not heard of this until I saw a mention on twitter. I checked it out and immediately started reading it. What a great novel, I loved it!

  • Sucked me in so far that I found tears running down my face not once but twice towards the end.

  • This is only the second review I’ve read of this one, Deb’s being the first, but I think I’m already in love with it. I can’t wait to read it myself.