One of today’s most compelling voices in women’s fiction, acclaimed novelist Jean Reynolds Page delivers a story of unanticipated familial ties, exploring with compassion and humor the hope, forgiveness, and sometimes just plain tolerance necessary to hold a family together. Safe Within is rich with heart and Southern atmosphere, as a loving wife, facing an almost unbearable impending tragedy, returns with her husband and son to Lowfield, North Carolina—and to a cabin high up in the trees—where she must contend with, and somehow make peace with, an infuriatingly eccentric mother-in-law. Readers touched by this author’s earlier work—including the much beloved The Space between Before and After—can rejoice, and fans of Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard will be adding another name to their list of favorites authors.
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About the Author
Jean Reynolds Page lives with her husband and three children in Wisconsin.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What is the book about? Elaine and her husband Carson, who is dying of pancreatic cancer, are returning to their childhood home in North Carolina. They stay with Carson's mother in a cabin by a lake, where it might just be Carson's final resting place at only 49 years old. Carson's mother, Greta holds a lot of grudges towards Elaine because she believes Mick, their son, isn't really Carson's son. After Carson passes away, Elaine and Mick are put in a situation where they forced to stay with Greta, despite her refusal to accept them as family and keep to her presumptions that Elaine was not a faithful wife to her son. Her anger towards them goes so far that she goes out of her way to avoid Elaine and Mick, even at the funeral. What did I think of the book? Dealing with the rumors and gossip in such a small town in a depressing time as Carson comes back to town with his family is a lot harder than it seems. Poor Carson, you think you're going home to pass away in a safe place, but instead he is around others who question his paternity to the son he help raise. You bounce back and forth in time, and watch the characters bounce and forth between forgiveness and compassion. You never really expect what happens next with the inconsistency in the characters opinions.
Check out my full review at Kritters Ramblings A main character that is twice my age, but a story that hit very deep in an emotional sense - I thought this book had a less than positive central story, but the reader doesn't feel left down in the dumps.
The most common theme that I have noticed in Page's books is the idea of forgiveness, and this book had a lot to do with coming to terms with things long past and learning to deal with these past hurts. This book was very much the same, the idea of this woman having to learn to forgive her mother-in-law following the death of her husband, was the focus. Although it stands to be said that it was more about Greta, the mother-in-law forgiving everyone else. I found this book to be pretty funny, like when Greta, the elderly stubborn matriarch went head to head with her former BFF and threw down some pretty good zingers. The line that stands out to me the most though was Elaine talking to her 24 year old son and saying that "Greta is apparently different things to different people. For us she might be a character-building exercise. For Morty...? Who knows?" I felt that not only was that line pretty clever, but it also characterized Greta's relationship with her son's family perfectly, she may have been so nice to other people but for this family she had nothing but contempt. I always love going on these journey's with characters because of how you gather the information. Very slowly at first until you have the whole picture and then you can decide how you feel about what happened. Plots like that, although intricate and wonderful, make the job of reviewer harder because I don't want to give too much away! The character in this book are so vivid from Elaine, the new widow who can't seem to grasp her new life, to her son who has to keep his hormones in check, to the supporting cast of gossipy, wicked, towns people. This book is a quick mellow read with undertones of forgiveness and moving on after a great loss.
Am now in the process of reading Safe Within. So far it has a good story, but am having trouble keeping track as it goes from one season to another, back and forth.
30 pages into this book and im so frustrated by the repetition from the first book...i'd return this one if there was a way. sure hope it picks up soon