Review Blog

Jan 06 2020

The sea and us by Catherine de Saint Phalle

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Transit Lounge, 2019. ISBN: 9781925760415.
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. The Sea and Us is a fish and chip shop, with rooms upstairs to let, and that is where Harold ends up, returning to Melbourne as a 36 year old, after spending 18 years in South Korea. Gradually we learn about why he walked out of his home as a young man, leaving behind his Czech mother, deserting her just as his father did years before. And we learn of his love for the beautiful Korean girl Ha-yoon, his apprenticeship with master potter Do-yun, and his friendship with street girl Marylou, and the wrinkled old man Sung-ki.
The old friends in Korea and the new friends Harold makes in Melbourne are like 'flotsam, jetsam, ligan and derelict'. They float in and out of his life, and he has to discover who can be rescued from abandonment, and who it is there is no hope of reclaiming.
It is a gentle story of kind people and genuine friendships that warm the heart. There are themes of abuse, deception and disappointment, but they are dealt with understanding and compassion, and the overall feeling one is left with is of the magical connection between people from many different walks of life. It is a treasure of a book, a pleasure to read.
Helen Eddy

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