Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to her two young children when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in after the death of her beloved husband, Joseph. There, Laura hunts for the legendary love letters her father wrote to her mother when he served as a reporter for the Associated Press during wartime Vietnam.
Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words will have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother, a woman who once spoke the language of fabric—of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage—but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, she becomes increasingly determined to save her mother. As each letter reveals a patchwork detail of her parents’ marriage, she discovers a common thread: a secret that mother and daughter unknowingly share.
Weaving back and forth from Laura’s story to her mother’s, beginning in the idyllic 1950s with Helen’s love affair with Joseph through the tumultuous Vietnam War period on to the present, Sea Escape takes a gratifying look at what women face in their everyday lives—the balancing act of raising capable and happy children and being accomplished and steadfast wives while still being gracious and good daughters. It is a story that opens the door to family secrets so gripping, you won’t be able to put this book down until each is revealed.
Read an Excerpt
Letters are windows casting light, illuminating the ties between two people. I could’ve sneaked a peek inside my parents’ romance by reading his letters to her, but I respected my mother’s love of curtains. At forty-five, the details of their marriage remained a mystery to me; I had no desire to confirm what I already knew. Even dead, she loved him more than me. My mother spent her days drenched in memories of safe arms and sweet music, reading his precious words, faded ink on yellowed stationery. I looked for ghosts around corners, certain I was running out of time to find a way to be enough for her. An... see more
Reading Group Guide
Lynne Griffin’s second novel is a thoughtful, deeply moving look at the complicated love between a mother and daughter. Helen and Laura are different women of different eras; a mother and daughter alienated from one another yet bonded by love and loss. Laura grows up in the shadow of her parents’ love, and when her father dies, it’s as though she’s lost both parents. For Helen, the only way to cope with her grief is to retreat into the decades old love letters from her husband Joseph, the ones she’s kept private from her children. When Helen has a sudden and devastating stroke, Laura’s world is turned upside down. Now a mother herself, she must juggle her mother’s care with her nursing career and the needs of her own family. Laura is willing to do whatever it takes to bring her mother back to health and so she goes to Sea Escape to search for the letters, hidden somewhere in her parents’ dream home by the sea. Along with the letters, Laura finds secrets and lies filling the space betwee see more