Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guest Review: Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams


Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler's problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she's finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician.

But the car's new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle's life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.

Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William's final book about the Schuyler sisters.

Publication Date: November 3, 2015

About Guest Reviewer Joanna:

Joanna Franklin Bell is a writer living outside Baltimore, MD. Her articles can be read in "Baltimore Magazine" and various sites; her award-winning short story can be found on the "Single Dad Laughing" blog; and her books can be found on Amazon. "Muse: A Cat's Story" is her children's chapter book, "Mrs. Just-So" is her children's picture book, and "Take a Load Off, Mona Jamborski" and "That Birds Would Sing" are her novels. Her third novel, "See No Demons, Hear No Demons" will be released in 2016. Catch up with Joanna on Facebook at:

Joanna's Review:

This book is a perfect example of why I am a reader, a lover of literature, a voracious studier of the written word, and a sometimes writer. This book is – this week – the reason I existed and – next week – the reason I will have my head half in the clouds as I let its memory slowly roll off me. I will need to distance myself bit by bit from the characters in order to immerse myself in my own life, unfortunately, because right now they are dancing through the air next to me and demanding my attention. I just finished the last chapter five minutes ago, so you'll forgive why I sound half schizophrenic, but their voices are utterly real in my ear, and will be for days.

"Along the Infinite Sea" makes up for its lackluster and cliché title within the first few sentences of chapter one, and you'll forget what the book is called because it could have been called "Beatriz Williams Writes Some Stuff" and you should still line up at midnight to be the first to buy it at the bookstore because it's that good. So is this where I give you a short synopsis of the plot? No, I think I won't. I knew not-a-thing about it when I first opened it and am so glad I didn't. Apparently (I learned afterwards) it's a partial continuation of some family that Williams wrote about before… and I don't care. They exist in THIS book in a way they cannot possibly in any other and I'm happy to have met them here and nowhere else. Plus, their family is really not the heart of the story so I doubly don't care that they're in other books (I cheated and looked at other reviews real quick, or I wouldn't know this at all).

I did read a rough rough rough draft given to me by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review, and the fact that nothing was properly indented or paragraphed etc, especially during characters' conversations, made reading this a labor of love since I had to slow down and really figure out who was speaking… and I didn't care. I relished their conversations all the more. I found two horrifying instances where Williams uses the name Florian instead of Stefan (they're both characters and the wrong one rolled off her typing fingertips, methinks) but I have all the faith that the good proofreader at whatever trad publisher is field-goaling this forth will find it. (If not, for godssake Bea, ask me so I can tell you which sentences they are before it's too late.)

Criticism? I wish Annabelle weren't compared to Audrey Hepburn, and several times. The author could have – and did – evoke Audrey in this character without having to hammer the comparison home so. Trust us the readers please – I saw Annabelle just fine without that. I see her now. She'll walk with me these next few days. Ditto referring to Stefan and Johann as "Valjean and Javert" – Williams doesn't need to rely on another author's characters to make hers have a similar enemyship. (Enemyship – think I just made that word up.) I hope that was edited out, because I hope her editor sees how strong her writing is without stooping to using someone else's, as I see. I also wish there wasn't a strange nod to Pepper being related to Nick, which tied her to the other main family in the book, but that link wasn't explored (maybe it is in the companion books?). It was unnecessarily head-scratchy since it led to nothing.

Is that my only criticism? Umm… yup. And none of those criticisms matter at the end of the day. At the end of the book. At the end of each chapter, or even sentence. They don't matter. This book was magnificent. A triumph. Read it next to Julie Orringer's "The Invisible Bridge," Anita Shreve's "Resistance," and Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief," and oh hell, "The Diary of Anne Frank" while you're at it, and weep that this was, and is, our world, and that these authors exist in it to tell the story. I will tell you nothing else about it. Go read it. It'll make your week.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. What a great review! It's precise yet vague at the same time. :) Thanks for sharing!!