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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

A Year by the Sea, An Unfinished Marriage, and WELCOME!

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson

“If it is woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea (quoted in A Year by the Sea, by Joan Anderson)

Children’s book author and journalist Joan Anderson had devoted herself to motherhood and marriage for decades, but when as an empty-nester her husband is offered his dream job in Kansas, Joan chooses to move to their Cape Cod cottage rather than follow her husband to Wichita. They sell their house in New York, and go their separate ways, unsure of what will become of their marriage.

As she settles into life at the cottage, Joan finds that she loves her new found solitude and independence. She seeks out new experiences such as swimming with seals and running a mini-marathon, while taking odd jobs such as clamming and working in a fish market.

“Of primary importance now is for me to retrieve the buried parts of me—qualities like playfulness, vulnerability, being at home in my skin, using more of my instincts. Like so many pieces of a puzzle, I need to find a way to create the whole again.”

On one of her daily beach walks, Joan meets and befriends another woman named Joan (Joan Erikson, the wife and collaborator of the famous psychoanalyst Erik Erikson) who inspires and mentors her ever-evolving journey:

“We are helping each other be real people; her need for companionship, so she can have freedom and adventure, forces me to go after the same.”

An Unfinished Marriage and A Walk on the Beach by Joan Anderson

Joan Anderson continues her story in her sequel, An Unfinished Marriage, as her husband takes an early retirement, and moves into the cottage with Joan, both hoping to create a new relational paradigm to save their marriage. While having their cottage remodeled, Joan and her husband must move to a primitive beach shack for two weeks:

“This spiral spit of land has brought us back to center…..We’ve both ripened and weathered, not unlike the shack.”

A Walk on the Beach delves further into Joan’s friend Joan Erikson’s wisdom, and several additional books follow in the series. These books were written in the 2000s, and can be checked out from your library in person, or via the phone apps Overdrive and Libby if you have an E-reader, or you can buy them new or used online or in bookstores. You can also watch the 2016 film A Year by The Sea starring Karen Allen, but as with most film adaptations, it is not as good as the book!

I enjoy introspective women’s memoir, and especially loved A Year by the Sea, which is a quick read at 190 pages (I don’t recommend the Audiobooks of this series, which are narrated rather piercingly by the author). If you like memoirs such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea, or Michelle Obama’s Becoming, you might give A Year by the Sea a perusal!


Welcome new friends who have subscribed to Ripe Reads in response to the letter I wrote to Victoria magazine! (Isn’t Victoria the best magazine?!) I was so excited that they published my letter about how this blog got started as a book club, and that so many of you searched for and found Ripe Reads. It is wonderful to have you here, and I hope you find my reviews of books by and about older adults to be useful in choosing your next read. Welcome also to new friends who found my book reviews on Pam Lamp’s wonderful lifestyle blog, Who I Met Today.


I am on vacation in the central coast of California, enjoying the seals, otters, hawks, cows, goats, wild turkeys and many trees that abound in this cool and misty region.

My husband took this photo of me finishing the book Switchboard Soldiers in my friend’s Castroville, CA backyard, unbeknownst to me (Castroville is known as "The Artichoke Capital of the World", and I’ve been gobbling them up!)

A new friend I met through my RipeReads Instagram account asked if I ever review poetry. I was embarrassed to admit that I rarely read it (save for Amanda Gorman's latest poems). To rectify the situation I bought these three poetry books from a beautiful bookstore/cafe in Pacific Grove, CA called BookWorks. These books are on my TBR pile and I will read them asap! Thanks Linda for inspiring me to branch out a bit!

Thanks for joining me today! Leave a message below and tell us what you are currently reading. I am currently reading Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes (thanks for the recommendation Lisa!) and listening to Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. If you are interested in buddy reading either of these titles (I just started both of them) leave a comment on my RipeReads Instagram. It would be fun to discuss them!

Yours until the final page, Gaili (aka"Li")


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