Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sand In My Eyes by Christine Lemmon

Genre: General Fiction
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 355
Book Source: BookSparks PR

An older woman growing flowers, a younger woman caught up in the weeds, and the seasons of life.

Twenty years ago, Anna Hott thought she could control everything – her crumbling marriage, her demanding children, her hectic life – by quitting her high-paced job in New York City and moving her family to tranquil Sanibel Island, Florida. But she brought her untamed emotions, her rage toward her cheating husband, and her yearning to write a novel with her. When her husband and children left the house for a week, Anna thought at last she would get her household, her novel, and her mind in order. Instead, her elderly neighbor Fedelina Aurelio knocked on her door bearing flowers and homespun wisdom, and when Fedelina’s recently divorced son arrived, Anna had a test of passions and a test of truth. Now, at 56 with an empty nest, Anna Holt pulls out the incomplete manuscript she started that memorable week and – to find closure for her life and a conclusion for her novel – travels to Indiana to visit Fedelina who lives in a nursing home.

A novel framed within a novel, Sand in My Eyes is both a story about the tension between motherhood and personal dreams as well as a story about women across generations inspiring one another to let beauty persist despite ugly circumstances.

This was a quiet, introspective read, full of wise counsel and beautiful analogies.

We follow Anna's journey through motherhood to empty nest, overwhelmed and exhausted with the chaos that 3 young children often bring, crumbling marriage, unfaithful husband, and general discontent. The melancholy tone of the novel is lifted with the introduction of Anna's neighbour Fedelina and the evolving friendship between the two.

Christine Lemmon does a wonderful job with character development. Anna felt very real, as did her efforts to make sense of her life and Fedelina with her insightful was just adorable. I absolutely loved the garden analogies and the way Fedelina uses roses, orchids and plants in general to teach Anna about finding contentment in the different stages of life as a mother and woman.

"Then I should give you some roses to remind you that they aren't always in bloom, nor can you be."

"See this one?" she asked. "Iceberg, Climbing, 1968, it blooms so prolifically you can cut large bouquets for the house, yet seldom see where you have cut." ... "If a mother takes care of herself," she said as she held the screen door open for me to go in, "she can give much of herself and no one will see what has been taken from her."

"I wish I hadn't gone on living miserably for so long - all that wasted time of my life," I finally said. " I do regret that."
"I don't see it as wasted time," she said.
"You don't?" I asked.
"No. There's no such thing. To me, your garden was in disarray, that's all. No one's garden is perfect all the time."

Early in the novel I found Anna's constant 'musings' around nursery rhymes a little irritating "home again, home again, jiggety jog" but maybe the purpose was to give added dimension to the picture of a mother overwhelmed and dissatisfied. And just a random adding, I have to say I liked the quirky, unexpected ending.

Sand In My Eyes had a surprising excess of editing and formatting errors but I really enjoyed Christine Lemmon's relaxed writing style and I'll definitely be reading more from this author. For me, the highlight of this novel was the refreshing take on the old adage - You only get one life ... live it!

Christine Lemmon is the author of Sanibel Scribbles, Portion of the Sea and Sand in My Eyes. She lives on an island off Florida’s Gulf Coast - in a house on stilts - with her husband and children. Visit Christine's website to find out more about this author and her work.

This month on The Eclectic Reader one lucky reader can win Linger OR Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage OR The Confessions of Catherine de Medici OR Eternal on the Water. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. Great review. I am not sure I want to pick this book up yet. I think it is because I am young (21) and I am slightly scared that this will happen to me so I don't want to read it. Maybe I will change my mind in the next few weeks! :)

  2. Oh my! I love the book! I've read so much review on this one. I love how the author related her life to her characters (i've read her interview somewhere) and I love a story of strong and independent woman..Glad you like it!

  3. This is definitely the first time I heard of this book. I love the general idea behind the book and judging by the quotes you enclosed in the review, I indeed love her style of writing. Hoping that I'd get the chance to read this book someday =)

  4. The first time too I heard of this book. I do hope I get a chance of reading this book.

  5. Great review. I have heard some good things about this book, but, perhaps not at this point in life


  7. I liked the adage you compared this one to. Sounds like it could be a good read!

  8. This sounds like a lovely book. I can't resist novels with great character development.

  9. Great review as always Teddyree. This isn't a novel that I would think to pick up but it does sound like an intriguing read.

    Hey, I reviewed a YA novel at my blog just today and thought of you. If you have a moment and would like to stop by!

    I hope all is going okay for you!

  10. Wonderful review! Sounds like a hopeful and life affirming read.
    Thanks Teddy.

  11. I really like the sound of this one as well! Great review!

  12. Fantastic review! Thanks for including the quotes. I really enjoyed them.

  13. This looks lovely. The passages you included hooked me in :) The editing and formatting errors do give me pause though. I really hate that!


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