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The Old Mermaid's Tale

The Old Mermaid's Tale

4.2 8
by Kathleen Valentine

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In 1959 the St.Lawrence Seaway opened to international commerce. The lives of the people in the towns surrounding the Great Lakes would never be the same. When Clair Wagner begins college in Port Presque Isle she dreams of meeting a "handsome sailor with the constellations of the Northern Seas in his eyes". Into her life come three men: Pio, a handsome Italian


In 1959 the St.Lawrence Seaway opened to international commerce. The lives of the people in the towns surrounding the Great Lakes would never be the same. When Clair Wagner begins college in Port Presque Isle she dreams of meeting a "handsome sailor with the constellations of the Northern Seas in his eyes". Into her life come three men: Pio, a handsome Italian fisherman, Gary, the dashing son of a wealthy shipping magnate, and Baptiste, a Breton mariner injured in a shipwreck who earns his living as a musician.With Pio, Clair discovers passion, with Gary she gains entry into the world of the commercial waterfront, and with Baptiste she discovers deep and all-consuming love. But as her relationship with Baptiste grows she discovers he is far more complex and mysterious than she could imagine. He has secrets and his secrets will alter her life forever.

Filled with colorful characters and two cultures in conflict, The Old Mermaid's Tale weaves a lush romance, filled with folklore, legends, shipwrecks, violence, traditions,and enduring love, that pays homage to the role of storytelling in our lives.

"The soul, they say, is divine and the flesh is iniquity. But I am a musician and I ask this - without the wood and the strings of the violin, where would the sonata find form?" - from the Prologue

Product Details

Parlez-Moi Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

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Meet the Author

Kathleen Valentine is the author of two collections of short stories My Last Romance and other passions and love, murder, etc. as well as two novels, The Old Mermaid's Tale and Each Angel Burns. She has also written Fry Bacon, Add Onions: The Valentine Family & Friends Cookbook - five generations of good eating, a memoir/cookbook of memories and 400 recipes from a Pennsylvania Dutch childhood, and The Mermaid Shawl & other Beauties: Shawls, Cocoons and Wraps, a collection of her own lace knitting designs. She also publishes single knitting projects in a series called Knit Your Tail Off.

She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport, and is writing another novel, Depraved Heart and another knitting book, Siren Shawls, Seaman's Scarves and Stories. More information on her work is at www.KathleenValentine.com.

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Old Mermaid's Tale 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
lsmeadows More than 1 year ago
I have read several short stories by Kathleen Valentine, and I have enjoyed all of them. This is the first full length novel of hers that I have read, though. When an author is successful as a short story writer, I always wonder whether they can sustain that level of writing in a full length book. It is with great joy that I found that Kathleen Valentine is a wonderful success at both. In fact, this book will definitely be on my top books read in 2012 list. I was discussing the book with a friend, and we both agreed that this is not your typical romance book. In fact, we both felt that it is not really a romance book at all, but is instead a captivating love story. Being one of the best love stories that I have ever read, I cannot imagine a lot of other books overcoming it. The characters in this book are superbly developed. Each one has a uniqueness that draws you into their lives and sweeps you along the story line. In fact, I cannot even pick out a favorite character from the book as I loved each and every one of them. The book is set in the 1960's along Lake Erie and focuses on one city where the majority of the residents are connected to the Great Lakes maritime trade. With the combination of her wonderful characters and the beautifully written prose in the book, Ms. Valentine not only makes her love story compelling, but makes the world of these people come alive for the reader. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes: "You can write down your dreams, make pictures of stars but that does not preserve the magic. Nothing captures those gorgeous glimmers of eternity. Yet love, like dreams and starlight, returns again and again in defiance of fears and foolishness" "Perhaps, I think, it is our longing, and our willingness to see beauty in the most humble of places, that makes us so irresistible to God. " I am now a steadfast fan of Ms. Valentine and look forward to reading more from her. If they are all as good as this one, I am certainly in for a treat.
NaomiB-brn More than 1 year ago
I have to be honest with the reader of this review. I had received this book as part of a package deal with the author's other book, Each Angel Burns, which I had been dying to read...and def. lived up to its' promise. I went into this book with a bit more trepidation as the description of the book didn't tickle my fancy in the least and I was concerned that I would be giving it a poor review. Every so often, I am shocked about my reactions to a book. This book was a wonderful example of a MATURE, coming of age book that was written with a poignancy that with the age of the main character didn't come off as shallow, stupid or superficial and best yet, I didn't feel like I had dropped a couple of IQ points with often sticky, sweet, cutsey literature that women are forced to endure in reading books about women's issues, particularly with the age of the main character (late teens-early twenties) This is def. an author I will be seeking out. Her writing has def. hit me with an enjoyment of drinking a fine glass of wine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG....what a beautiful love story. It was both exciting, romantic, funny and sad all wrapped in to one. I was unsure of how I expected things to end but it did catch me off guard. I do recommend for a wonderful read. Just have tissues handy for when the time come.
MaureenGill More than 1 year ago
"The Old Mermaid's Tale" is an elegantly crafted coming of age story about the healing powers of unconditional love. Claire Wagner is a beautiful young woman who falls in love with the ideal of romanticized love even before she experiences love's joys and sorrows. Claire is awakened to the breathtaking realities of pure sexual passion by Pio, a young Italian-American who yearns for the dangerous life of a seaman. Pio will become the first and last great passion of her life, serving as bookends to Claire's journey of the heart. The crucible that transforms Claire from love-struck girl to full womanhood, however, is Baptiste, a man of tragedy and well as captivating songs of love. Claire's pure and unselfish love for Baptiste heals his tormented soul and allows him to claim his destiny. In return, Baptiste's age, wisdom and ability to nurture and cherish a woman will serve as that most ancient of all mariners' navigational tools, the Northern Star. The knowledge that she is deeply loved by Baptiste creates within her an inner compass so strong that it will guide her safely home through the tumultuous seas of her own passions and doubts, delivering her into a charmed life that gives her a platform for all of her gifts, most especially her astonishing capacity to love unconditionally and with great purity of purpose. Claire and Baptiste are eternal soul mates who share a love so profound it eventually comes full circle in the fullness of time, giving harbor to others who, like Baptiste, are also in desperate need to recover from the vicissitudes of life. Such souls are in need of safe anchor as surely as any battered ship seeking port after sailing through storms able to sink whole fleets. Valentine sets the heart and soul of her story in a small fishing town on Lake Erie; she uses the cultural richness of the locale and its locals as the warp and woof of her great love story. The effect is mesmerizing, entertaining, and at times enlightening. This very talented author displays an in-depth understanding and compassion for the lives of the brave men and women who define their existence according to the vagaries of mighty lakes and oceans. The story is rich in folklore and the superstitions of seamen but most compelling when it reminds us about the fragility of our existence. Clearly, Valentine and her marvelously drawn characters know there are many ways a person can die but being dead to love is a fate worse than being lost at sea. Kathleen Valentine is a very gifted writer; she writes with skill about the ordinary but it is in her ability to write about the heavenly that she most excels. "The Old Mermaid's Tale" left me feeling simply wonderful, as if I had been rendered nearly senseless by an over indulgence of fine chocolate, heady wine, hot therapeutic waters, and the sweet caresses of an understanding and satisfying lover. Valentine proves that being an independent author and being an extraordinary talent are not mutually exclusive; her writing elevates the bar for all those who want to independently publish. She has also cast adrift the myth that indies are not the equal of those who are agented or traditionally published. Everyone who wants to write or loves to read can learn much from Valentine and "The Old Mermaid's Tale." (Maureen Gill, author of "January Moon")
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dennis_batchelder More than 1 year ago
I was totally captivated by Clair Wagner, the storyteller of Valentine's lyrical novel, The Old Mermaid's Tale.

The story is set in a 1960's Lake Erie town. It's Clair's coming-of-age tale mixed with two love stories: Clair and Baptiste sandwiched between Clair and Pio.

Valentine sprinkles her book with delicious folklore tidbits: Baptiste's Breton sea-lore, Lake Erie seamen tales, and tales and folk music from the early sixties. The setting evokes memories of the unique life of each town before chain stores and hotels took over.

The characters are full-bodied. Sal, Baptiste, Tessie, Pio: they all deserve their own books. Valentine teased me with glimpses of their lives outside of the confines of this tale, and she left me with a longing to know more.

I was afraid that this would be too much of a "girly" book for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was sorry when I finished it. I'm looking forward to more tales from Valentine.