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By Anita Diamant
New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction: Simon & Schuster, 2001
ISBN: 0-7432-2532-5 307 pages

Bob Corbett
July 2016

Bob Corbett
June 2016

Good Harbor is a marvelous read. It is touching, funny, suspenseful, filled with secrets, happiness, sadness, tragedy and even successes. The novel, set in Gloucester, Mass. is developed on three interlocking planes: there is the life of Kathleen Levine, 59 at the time of the live action who has been a children’s librarian for 25 years. She is married to Buddy Levine, a Jewish man who doesn’t much practice his religion. Kathleen, however, is more interested in Judaism than is her husband even though she was raised a fairly devout Roman Catholic. She has two sons who live away from home and one son who died when he was only two in a tragic accident. Kathleen is a children’s library at a local elementary school.

As the novel open Kathleen is entering treatment for breast cancer and is simply terrified by the treatment itself, and even more frightened that this might be the end of her life. Her cancer has brought her face to face with the possibility of her own death, and her inner turmoil is exacerbated by a long-term sense of guilt which she has imposed upon herself for an accident which killed her young son when he was only two years old.

The second main character is Joyce Tabachnik who is 42 and an author. She recently published a romance novel which she is embarrassed about and even published it under a pseudonym. However, the money she received from the fairly successful novel has allowed her to buy a small home in the same neighborhood where Kathleen lives. She spends whatever time she can up on the sea at her “writing” home, leaving her husband at home in the Boston area. Her husband, Frank works a great deal, and the personal relationship between the husband and wife is cool at best. They do have a young 12 year old daughter, Nina, who is very fine soccer player and rather typical young teenage girl. Both parents center a great deal of attention on Nina.

Once Joyce moves into her new home, planning it as a part time “writing retreat” she begins to blossom a bit, and feels a strong disconnect from her husband. However, she is a hovering mother. However, when Nina goes off to a summer camp Joyce becomes quite independent and even begins a very curious “affair” with an Irishman living in a near-by beach community. He seems quite poor; however, she finds him a fascinating lover and begins to spend considerable time with him.

The story follows the individual lives of Kathleen and Joyce, and the joint life these two women begin to have, despite a significant age difference between them. They spend many hours walking along the beach near their homes and become intimate friends.

The novel is quite well written, revealing the important loving and caring friendship between the two women, yet at the same time presents the development of each in her own very personal, and private struggles, Kathleen with her breast cancer and Joyce with the crises of who she really is in life itself, and who she is as a writer.

In addition to being a gripping and moving tale, the novel is well written and quite funny in parts. Anita Diamant is a marvelous writer.

Bob Corbett


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Bob Corbett