THE MERMAID COLLECTOR
Are long-held dreams — of love, acceptance, forgiveness, redemption — attainable in this life, or are they merely siren songs that lure us to our destruction? The Mermaid Collector sensitively explores the cost of untangling one’s deepest desires from self-deception. Marks skillfully navigates a course that wrecks most novels: recounting two stories — one historical, one modern — that are equally moving and compelling, allowing the reader to forgive one superfluous and unsatisfactorily resolved subplot.
Artist Tess Patterson chafes under the narrow-minded scrutiny of Cradle Harbor, Maine, even as she desperately craves its acceptance years after her scandalously bohemian (and bipolar) mother’s shocking suicide. When Tom Grace inherits the town’s historic lighthouse, he believes it’s the last-chance haven for the drug-addicted, ne’er-do-well brother he has spent his entire adult life trying to save. A chance meeting and a night of passion unite Tess and Tom’s separate destinies and may transform Cradle Harbor’s history from one of tragedy to hope. (NAL, Oct., 400 pp., $15.00)