Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Fans of John Steinbeck and his Cannery Row stories will delight in this novel, which takes place in Monterey, Calif., in 1940. While looking at the sea life in a tide pool, 15-year-old Margot Fiske falls and hits her head. She is rescued by marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who sews up the cut in her forehead, and shortly thereafter they begin having an affair. Margot moved to Monterey with her entrepreneur father, Anders Fiske, who takes over one of the canneries on the row, but runs it his own way, much to the chagrin of Giana Agnelli, head of the most powerful family on the peninsula. Margot gets a job sketching Ricketts's marine subjects and makes money on the side drawing pornographic images that are then sold by Giana's son, Tino. Margot gets to know Steinbeck, Ricketts's benefactor, who is hiding out from Hollywood and his wife, Carol. But for these characters, America's entry into World War II and the publication of Cannery Row will change life in Monterey forever. Hatton, in her fist novel, takes up a formidable challenge for herself, setting her story in one of American literature's most famous locations. She does an excellent job of recreating the Cannery Row that no longer exists, honoring the memory of Steinbeck and Ricketts (the real-life inspiration for Cannery Row's Doc) and all the workers who once toiled there, as seen through the eyes of a precocious teenage heroine. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Margot Fiske is seen at ages 15 and 73 as she variously pursues and recalls her relationship with marine biologist Ed Ricketts and relates how she came to run an aquarium. The 15-year-old Margot and her entrepreneurial father have been bouncing around the world as this debut novel opens with their arrival in Monterey, California, in 1940. When she falls and gashes her head while working with Ed, he carries her to his lab, stitches her wound, and introduces her to sex, believing her claim to be 20. After the truth emerges and Ed grows distant, Margot carries a torch even as she comes to know the scientist's libidinous, hard-drinking side and his cantankerous friend John Steinbeck. There was a marine biologist named Ed Ricketts who in the 1930s worked in the Monterey Bay area where Steinbeck set Cannery Row and who is the basis for characters in several of the Nobelist's novels. This borrowing from history is less interesting than the twisting path that eventually brings the resourceful Margot back to Monterey Bay in the 1980s with a sizable fortune and a plan to honor her father's Monterey venture and Ed's scientific ideas by establishing an aquarium. Chapters alternate mainly between 1940 and 1998, with the latter conveying some of the humor and challenges in running the facility; the author herself has worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the descriptions of marine life are sensuously precise. Overall, Hatton shapes a jagged coming-of-age and growing-old story with fine vignettes held together by Margot's pluck and her commitment to feelings and memories that matter deeply. Along with creating a fully realized, realistic heroine seen across decades, Hatton is a writer of often exceptional prose, sometimes overwrought but always thoughtful. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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