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Good Harbor: A Novel

Good Harbor: A Novel

3.2 24
by Anita Diamant

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Anita Diamant's international bestseller The Red Tent brilliantly re-created the ancient world of womanhood, exploring the passions, traditions, and turmoil of a family of mothers and daughters from the Book of Genesis. In Good Harbor, she brings her remarkable storytelling skills and emotional insight to the lives of modern women, considering the


Anita Diamant's international bestseller The Red Tent brilliantly re-created the ancient world of womanhood, exploring the passions, traditions, and turmoil of a family of mothers and daughters from the Book of Genesis. In Good Harbor, she brings her remarkable storytelling skills and emotional insight to the lives of modern women, considering the precarious balance of marriage and career, motherhood and friendship.
The seaside town of Gloucester, on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is a place where the smell of the ocean lingers in the air. Fifty-nine-year-old Kathleen Levine, a longtime resident, is graceful, maternal, and steady, a devoted children's librarian, a convert to Judaism, the mother of two grown sons. But when she is diagnosed with breast cancer -- which killed her sister fifteen years earlier -- her life is thrown into turmoil. Frightened, lonesome for a woman to talk to, burdened by secrets, she meets Joyce Tabachnik and a once-in-a-lifetime friendship is born. Forty-two-year-old Joyce, restless and funny, a freelance writer with literary aspirations, has just bought a small house in Gloucester, where she hopes to write as well as vacation with her family. Like Kathleen, Joyce is at a fragile place in her life: with her twelve-year-old daughter becoming increasingly testy and distant, she's also feeling a distinct lack of connection to her husband.
A mutual appreciation of books, humor, and the beauty of the natural world brings the two women together for long walks along Good Harbor beach. Slowly, they begin to share their personal histories and to realize how much they can learn from each other. Ultimately they wrestle with some startling secrets, and help each other to confront scars left by old emotional wounds.
With her own trademark wisdom and humor, Diamant considers the nature, strength, and necessity of adult female friendship. Good Harbor is a rich and moving book about the tragedy of loss, the insidious nature of family secrets, and, ultimately, the redemptive power of friendship.

Editorial Reviews

The author of the phenomenal bestseller The Red Tent again delves into the secret lives of women with a contemporary novel that reaffirms her remarkable gift as a natural and resonant storyteller.

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Chapter One
Kathleen lay on the massage table and looked up at the casement windows high above her. The sashes were fashioned of rough oak, the glass uneven and bottle-thick. Propped open on green sapling sticks, they were windows from an enchanted castle. Having been a children's librarian for twenty-five years, Kathleen Levine considered herself something of an expert on the subject of enchanted castles.
She smiled and closed her eyes. The massage was a birthday present from her coworkers at Edison Elementary. They'd given her the gift certificate at a surprise party for her fifty-ninth birthday, almost five months ago. When Madge Feeney, the school secretary, had learned that Kathleen still hadn't used it, Madge had harrumphed and made the appointment for her.
Kathleen stretched her neck from side to side. "Comfortable?" asked Marla, who stood at the far end of the table, kneading Kathleen's left instep. Marla Fletcher, who was nearly six feet tall, sounded as though she were far, far away. Like the giant wife in the castle of "Jack and the Beanstalk," Kathleen thought, and smiled again.
She sighed, letting go of the tension of driving from school to this odd, out-of-the-way place. Kathleen had thought she knew every last side street on Cape Ann, but Marla's directions had taken her along unfamiliar roads leading, finally, up a rutted, one-way lane that looped around the steep hills overlooking Mill Pond. She nearly turned back once, convinced she'd lost the way. But then she spotted the landmark: a stone gate, half-hidden by overgrown lilac bushes, weeks away from blooming.
It must have been a stunning estate in its day. Much as she hated being late,Kathleen slowed down for a better look. The great lawn had been designed to show off the pond, which shone platinum in the spring sun. Beyond it, Mill River glittered into the distance, silver on mauve.
She turned the car toward the sprawling hewn-granite mansion. Those windows seemed piteously small to be facing such a magnificent scene, she thought. And the four smaller outbuildings, made of the same majestic stones, with the same slate turrets, seemed oddly grand for servants' quarters.
Kathleen drove past two young couples in tennis whites standing by the net on a pristine clay court. They turned to watch as she pulled up beside the round stone tower, where Marla waited by the door. Rapunzel, thought Kathleen, at the sight of her waist-length golden hair.
Lying on the massage table, Kathleen wondered whether she could translate this amazing place into "once upon a time." She had tried to write children's books, she had even taken classes. But that was not her gift. Kathleen was good at matching children to books. She could find just the right story to catch any child's imagination -- even the wildest boys, who were her pet projects, her special successes. It wasn't as grand a gift as writing, but it was a gift. And in her own private way, Kathleen was proud of it.
Yet, here she was, in a castle on a hill in the woods, stroked and kneaded like a happy lump of dough by a kind lady; it seemed like an engraved invitation. Was this the kind of scene that had inspired Charles Dodgson to become Lewis Carroll? Was this the world that Maurice Sendak visited whenever he set out on a new book?
"Time to turn over," Marla said, draping the sheet so Kathleen remained covered. Warm oil trickled over Kathleen's sloping shoulders, velvet drops that soothed and tickled. "Nice," she said, overcome by gratitude to this pleasant stranger who made her feel so well cared for, so...cradled. Curious word, Kathleen thought. Curiouser and curiouser. She closed her eyes.
The next thing she knew, two warm hands cupped her face. "Take your time getting dressed," Marla whispered. "I'm going to get you a glass of water."
But Kathleen was no dawdler. She saw from the clock beside her that nearly two hours had passed since she had lain down. She swung her legs over the edge of the table and reached for her bra, fastening the hooks in front, bottom to top, just as her sister had shown her when Kathleen was twelve years old, before she needed a bra at all. She had no idea she was weeping until Marla raced back up the winding stone staircase, an empty glass in her hand.
Kathleen tried to regain control of her breathing. "I have breast cancer," she said, staring down at her chest.
"Oh my God," Marla said softly. She sat down and took Kathleen's hand. "I wish you'd told me. I would have brought up my amethyst crystal. I could have burned myrrh instead of sage."
Kathleen sniffed and stifled a laugh. "That's okay. It was a wonderful massage."
"Do you want to make an appointment for another one? That might be a good thing to do."
Kathleen wiped her nose on her slippery forearm and turned the bra around, filling it with her breasts -- first the good one, and then the traitor. "I'll call you after I know when...After..." Her throat closed. Marla put an arm around her shoulders.
The only sound was the volley on the tennis court below. The juicy pop of ball hitting racket, court, racket, sounded back and forth for a long time before someone finally missed a shot. The players' laughter filtered up through the windows, like an echo from another day, another story.
Copyright © 2001 by Anita Diamant

Meet the Author

Anita Diamant is the bestselling author of the novels The Boston Girl, The Red Tent, Good Harbor, The Last Days of Dogtown, and Day After Night, and the collection of essays, Pitching My Tent. An award-winning journalist whose work appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting, she is the author of six nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life. She lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website at AnitaDiamant.com.

Brief Biography

Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
June 27, 1951
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
M.A. in English, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, 1975; B.A. in Comparative Literature, Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, 1973.

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Good Harbor 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the red tent first and thought 'oh my god i can hardly wait for the next book!!' good habor was good just as good as the red tent only different. instead of being taken back in time to a history that didn't exist, Diamant tells an everyday story about two lonely women who find each other and surprisingly enough themselves. Women need books like these to keep their sanity. It's nice to know that some one is at least thinking thoughts if not living what my life is like. I'm a true crime buff but every now and then my friend forces me into fiction, which is a real good thing cause now I have another writer to choose from.
NicoleTrist More than 1 year ago
I put this book down a few hours ago and I still have tears in my eyes thinking about it. Every now and then a great book comes out about the power of friendship and companionship between women and this, to me, is one of those great stories. Full Review; http://bookywooks.blogspot.com/2010/01/nothing-beats-walk-on-beach.html
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my first Anita Diamant book. What a great story. I felt like I actually knew these two women and I laughed and cried with each of them. I loved how the author wove the different traditions of Judaism and Catholicism into the book. I also felt anger at the one friend for her 'affair'. I can't wait to read The Red Tent.
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Sauerkraut More than 1 year ago
I was just sitting here wondering if I should buy Diamants' newest book. I was checking what everyone else thought of it and I saw how low the rating was for Good Harbor. This is one of my favorite books about female friendships. I am shocked that these other ladies rated it so badly. I sell my books at a used book store and this is one book I have kept in my library. Whenever I want a soothing, wonderful world to go to, I reread this book. I am very sorry the other ladies did not enjoy it to it's fullest. They all say they read The Red Tent and I never have, maybe that is the difference. All I can say is, give the book a try and make up your own mind!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was definitely not as good as Red Tent. I was apprehensive to read it since i enjoyed Red Tent so much(and didn't want to be disappointed in Diamant), and after reading the back cover I thought it sounded a little hokey. But I am glad I read it. Being 42, with 3 children at various ages, back in school, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, and dealing with the constant struggle called marriage, but knowing that I am going to be okay through all of it because of the good friends I have, I really connected to this book(sorry, that was a lot!). It was a little hokey at times, but overall I think middle-aged women like me will really enjoy it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd never read a book by Diamant before . . .after this I don't want to pick up another. The books seemed slow, boring, and dull; I thought the whole thing was predictable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and liked seeing how these women became friends and helped each other out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a huge fan of The Red Tent I was eager to read Good Harbor. I was astonished at how bad the book was. Are there two Anita Diamants? How could The Red Tent be such a triumph and Good Harbor be a poor generic Harlequin romance both be written by the same person? 1 star is being generous.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book just OK at best. I didnt care about the characters the way I thought I would I enjoyed their friendship but didnt really feel it emotionally I found the whole drug dealer chain smoking boyfriend pretty offensive and The rabbi just disappeared at the end with no closure. I liked the husbands and couldnt find the reason why there was so much anger toward them Just a OK book at best
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Good Harbor for a variety of reasons including the fact that as person undergoing treatment for breast cancer (surgical biopsy, surgery, chemo and now just finishing radiation) I appreciated the non-sensationalist approach to this disease. Ms Diament didn't see fit to throw every single horrible side effect at its absolute worst at Katherine. None of this experience is pleasant and Katherine definitely had it easier that most (me included to some extent) but it was nice to read a good story without having to feel like flagellating myself over someone else's misery. I've got the Red Tent on order and am looking forward to some more very good writing even if in an entirely different context.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Picked up this book despite my feelings towards The Rent Tent. I enjoyed reading into Joyce and Kathleen's friendship and how it evolved. I finished the book wishing I had a friendship just as theirs'. It was just a really good read which left me feeling good...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Diamante's The Red Tent was a moving story told in a unique and powerful way. It was a 5-Star book, for sure. Luckily, I read a review of this book before I read it, so I knew enough not to expect another 'one of the best books I've ever read.' I actually read it because of its setting, one of my favorite places, the Gloucester-Rockport (Cape Ann) area. However, Good Harbor, is a relaxing read about the friendship between two middle-age women, and its assertion of the values of such a relationshp is a reassuring one to readers. If the characters, both major and minor ones, had been more developed, this could have been a 'great read' rather than just a relaxing one. The two husbands, female rabbi and the Irish drug peddler all needed fleshing out, for sure. But some days, we just need a relaxing,somewhat comforting book to read, and this fits the bill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my once a year delve into popular new fiction and, girl, was I disappointed. First, nothing, I mean nothing happens until three quarters through when the younger of the two women randomly meets a stranger on the beach and dives headlong into a brief triste that ends in the most unlikely of ways. I felt a few pangs for the older woman whose struggle with breast cancer is just about the most interesting thing the book had to offer. But still it was hard to warm up to her. Since she is always putting everyone off, it puts off the reader, too! The husbands are like old furniture, not even worth mentioning, and nothing happens to them either. Their outstanding quality is that they both bore their wives to some degree. Another character she introduces, a young female Rabbi, was mildly interesting but for some reason Diamante just drops her like a hot potato for no particular reason and without any closure as they say. In short, I kept reading because I figured the plot had to go somewhere at some point. Nada!