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A literary novel set on the coast of Maine during the 1960s, tracing the life of a family and its matriarch as they negotiate sharing a home. Margreete’s Harbor begins with a fire: a fiercely-independent, thrice-widowed woman living on her own in a rambling house near the Maine coast forgets a hot pan on the stovetop, and nearly burns her place down. When Margreete Bright ca A literary novel set on the coast of Maine during the 1960s, tracing the life of a family and its matriarch as they negotiate sharing a home. Margreete’s Harbor begins with a fire: a fiercely-independent, thrice-widowed woman living on her own in a rambling house near the Maine coast forgets a hot pan on the stovetop, and nearly burns her place down. When Margreete Bright calls her daughter Liddie to confess, Liddie realizes that her mother can no longer live alone. She, her husband Harry, and their children Eva and Bernie move from a settled life in Michigan across the country to Margreete’s isolated home, and begin a new life. Margreete’s Harbor tells the story of ten years in the history of a family: a novel of small moments, intimate betrayals, arrivals and disappearances that coincide with America during the late 1950s through the turbulent 1960s. Liddie, a professional cellist, struggles to find space for her music in a marriage that increasingly confines her; Harry’s critical approach to the growing war in Vietnam endangers his new position as a high school history teacher; Bernie and Eva begin to find their own identities as young adults; and Margreete slowly descends into a private world of memories, even as she comes to find a larger purpose in them.


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A literary novel set on the coast of Maine during the 1960s, tracing the life of a family and its matriarch as they negotiate sharing a home. Margreete’s Harbor begins with a fire: a fiercely-independent, thrice-widowed woman living on her own in a rambling house near the Maine coast forgets a hot pan on the stovetop, and nearly burns her place down. When Margreete Bright ca A literary novel set on the coast of Maine during the 1960s, tracing the life of a family and its matriarch as they negotiate sharing a home. Margreete’s Harbor begins with a fire: a fiercely-independent, thrice-widowed woman living on her own in a rambling house near the Maine coast forgets a hot pan on the stovetop, and nearly burns her place down. When Margreete Bright calls her daughter Liddie to confess, Liddie realizes that her mother can no longer live alone. She, her husband Harry, and their children Eva and Bernie move from a settled life in Michigan across the country to Margreete’s isolated home, and begin a new life. Margreete’s Harbor tells the story of ten years in the history of a family: a novel of small moments, intimate betrayals, arrivals and disappearances that coincide with America during the late 1950s through the turbulent 1960s. Liddie, a professional cellist, struggles to find space for her music in a marriage that increasingly confines her; Harry’s critical approach to the growing war in Vietnam endangers his new position as a high school history teacher; Bernie and Eva begin to find their own identities as young adults; and Margreete slowly descends into a private world of memories, even as she comes to find a larger purpose in them.

30 review for Margreete's Harbor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I didn’t gel well with “Margreete’s Harbor”. Unfortunately Eleanor Morse’s writing was not a great match for me. It started out promising, on the coast of Maine, beginning with a kitchen fire, followed by heartfelt kindness from locals offering to help ‘Margreete’ who had dementia. It soon switches to Margreete’s family who were living in Michigan. (for eight years - but Liddie, Margreete’s daughter still missed her hometown of Maine). Liddie was cello player. Her husband, Harry, a school teacher I didn’t gel well with “Margreete’s Harbor”. Unfortunately Eleanor Morse’s writing was not a great match for me. It started out promising, on the coast of Maine, beginning with a kitchen fire, followed by heartfelt kindness from locals offering to help ‘Margreete’ who had dementia. It soon switches to Margreete’s family who were living in Michigan. (for eight years - but Liddie, Margreete’s daughter still missed her hometown of Maine). Liddie was cello player. Her husband, Harry, a school teacher. The children were Bernie, Eva, and newborn, Gretchen. Romeo was the cat. Fred, the dog. Much later, we meet Meatball, another kitten. Liddie wanted to move back to Maine....move in with Margreete. The house was big enough to accommodate their family. Liddie offered to take the children to Maine. Her husband could stay in Michigan. “Why on earth would you say such a thing? They’re my kids, too. We’re married. . .Unless you don’t want to be married”. “I want to be married”. “I don’t want to move there, he said”. RED FLAGS....went up for me right away. Did Liddie value her husband’s needs? Would she ‘really’ have moved to Maine if her husband had refused? I felt she would have. Well... the family uprooted and moved to Maine. Harry never really wanted to move....but he went along with the plan. I was thinking — A couple with three little kids, a dog and cat, - each with needs - were really going to function well living in a new place, with a woman that needed protective care for both herself and from each family members and the animals. It was a lot— felt too chaotic to me. The responsibility of caretaking Margreete and her advancing dementia with a baby and two other young kids, was going to mostly fall on Liddie. Harry definitely needed to work. The kids needed to adjust to meeting new friends The stress put on everyone - created by choice - felt like a train wreck. For me - this story was nails-on-a-chalkboard. I cringed many times. I wasn’t crazy about the many descriptions....(very wordy), the lack of real communication between family members, minimal family dialogue, and characters who mostly left me cold. (the children too). I also felt this story didn’t know what it’s clear purpose was. The dementia part of the storytelling was one-dimensional, stereotyped; flat. The historical and political parts felt like a mail delivery drop off. The often non-sequitur-connection writing drove me bonkers. And whenever the author started to take a risk - open up a taboo topic...she backed down from it. Playing it ‘safe’....the author would open up possible emotional stress - loneliness & unhappiness - the possible affair - the possible sexual abuse - the possible draft evasion....but everything just continue to fall flat. In the meantime - we were provided with historical news: The assassination of Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.....and a quick look at racial issues - yet, again nothing too deep - ( just the daily news coverage). So....overall, this American family story - spanning over a dozen or so more years - through the 50’s and 60’s ....and early 70’s, didn’t move my groove. Sample excerpts — [truthfully....I found the writing elementary, and rather dull] “The sun broke through the clouds just after four-thirty and cast a golden light over the fields and the people searching, and that light seem to say that everything would be all right. But then the sun went lower and the golden light disappeared, and a chill fell”. “Eva ran upstairs to get her grandmother’s slippers and fell on the way and scuffed her knees. What came out of her was the sound of residual hysteria, galloping like a horse out of a burning barn”. “On the subway, a couple sat across from them, he in a white T-shirt, she in a skimpy black sweater. Her face was wide and flat, and the boyfriend couldn’t take his eyes off her. He grabbed her and pulled her toward him; she laughed and pushed him away. He chewed his fingernails for a moment, then looked at her ear as though he’d like to inhale her”. “Eva studied the back of her brothers big, round head as he looked out the opposite window—the curiosity and eagerness in his neck, the cowlick that made his hair stick up at the crown—and at that moment, she loved him with her conscious brain, maybe for the first time ever. But even then she knew it wasn’t a love she could count on. At any moment, it could change. She remembered once when a storm was brewing and her mother rushed out to the clothesline to grab the clothes.” “Bernie looked out his window and Eva out hers at endless fields of corn and melons, at daisies and buttercups and black eyed Susan‘s, at cows standing in the shade of trees. Grain silos, dogs chained in yard, a farmer on a tractor under the skeleton of an umbrella, a falling-down bandstand, towering cumulus clouds. The only thing that relieved the sound of the tires on pavement was Bernie’s excited voice, reading out Burma-Shave advertisements, one sign board at a time”. Liddie... “When was the last time she told Harry she loved him?” “She taught students at home that afternoon, while the snow fell quietly. At first it blanketed every twig, every tip of the picket fence that leaned drunkenly toward the road, settled over the red flag on the mailbox, the peaked roof of the birdfeeder, over the windowsills, laying it’s self down on the larger boughs of the maple trees along the driveway. It fell and kept falling, over the dark limbs of the apple tree, which turned white against the gray and darkening sky. Her last student canceled”. I don’t mind slow. I don’t mind reflective-introspective novels. I like character driven stories.... But every range-of-development....be it the characters, (no growth), the struggles, the history, the political thoughts, all fell flat. Sorry....I just can’t possibly glow over this book However, thank you ( always) > St. Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Eleanor for providing me with an advance read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Margreete’s Harbor follows a three generation family as they deal with the grandmother’s worsening dementia. After Margreete burns down her kitchen, her daughter Liddie moves her family back to Maine so they can move in with her mother. The book begins in 1955 and follows the family for 13 years. We hear, in alternating chapters, from each member. We spend most of the story in their heads. There’s not a lot of action, in fact even when something does happen, it’s all about how it’s perceived. Th Margreete’s Harbor follows a three generation family as they deal with the grandmother’s worsening dementia. After Margreete burns down her kitchen, her daughter Liddie moves her family back to Maine so they can move in with her mother. The book begins in 1955 and follows the family for 13 years. We hear, in alternating chapters, from each member. We spend most of the story in their heads. There’s not a lot of action, in fact even when something does happen, it’s all about how it’s perceived. This is a book of life - the everyday and the large occurrences, the change of the political landscape, kids growing up, spouses drifting apart and trying to come together. It’s obviously a character driven story. Luckily, I cared for each of the family members. They were all flawed, all trying to find their place in the world. Morse has a way with words, her observations are spot on. “I’m talking about my mother. It’s like watching a picture in a darkroom going backward in a developing tray - every day is blurrier, less contrast, heading toward blank.” The story was heartwarming. It tackles how a family communicates; or how so often fails to communicate effectively. But as the book progresses, each person grew and became more self aware. And how, no matter who does what, there is love tying them together. I was so disappointed when the book ended. I wanted to know what would become of them in the coming years. I would definitely read a sequel. My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    This is one of those novels that I didn’t want to end. I fell in love with the characters and now I’ll be wondering where the rest of their lives will take take them and if they are happy. It’s a beautifully written story of a family spanning over a decade from the mid 1950’s to the late 1960’s, a family whose ties are at times fragile. Liddie and her husband Harry uproot their two young children Bernie and Eva and move back to the home in coastal Maine where Liddie grew up. Her mother, Margreet This is one of those novels that I didn’t want to end. I fell in love with the characters and now I’ll be wondering where the rest of their lives will take take them and if they are happy. It’s a beautifully written story of a family spanning over a decade from the mid 1950’s to the late 1960’s, a family whose ties are at times fragile. Liddie and her husband Harry uproot their two young children Bernie and Eva and move back to the home in coastal Maine where Liddie grew up. Her mother, Margreete is suffering from dementia and can no longer safely live on her own. It is where their third child Gretchen is born. A sadness pervades much this story as they struggle to get through the changes in their lives as well as the ordinary things they face as time moves on. The narrative alternates focus on all of the family members and the author does such an amazing job of giving a sense of who they are, what they are going through, sparking a genuine emotional connection. Margreete’s diminishing mind, a marriage at a crossroads, the children making their way through their own identity issues, questioning their convictions as they see their father stand up for his, trying to decide what is the thing that lights one’s soul - there’s so much here. The social and political events of the times are so well presented as they happen and we see the realistic responses by the family members to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the March on Washington, Martin Luther King’s assassination, the bombing at the Birmingham school, Kennedy’s assassination, the war in Vietnam. Margreete’s Harbor, as she calls the place where she lives is where they make their home, but it is Margreete herself who provides them harbor in many ways. It is the love they have for her and each other that sustains those fragile ties. Margreete’s presence in their lives and their love and acceptance of her despite the difficulties of living with a person with dementia was so moving. In a way I was reminded of one of my favorite writers, Alice McDermott who writes about ordinary people who have an extraordinary impact on me, as this family did. I read this with Diane and Esil and I’m happy to say we hit on one that we all loved it. I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through Edelweiss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    A story about a very special family, a mother, father, son and two daughters. This family is special though because they did something different. When Liddies mother burns up her kitchen and it becomes apparent she could no longer be trusted to live alone, she doesn't put her in a home. No instead, she and her husband uproot their family and move from Michigan to Maine to live in the large house with Margreete. They accept her just as she is, declining memory and all. They surround her with love A story about a very special family, a mother, father, son and two daughters. This family is special though because they did something different. When Liddies mother burns up her kitchen and it becomes apparent she could no longer be trusted to live alone, she doesn't put her in a home. No instead, she and her husband uproot their family and move from Michigan to Maine to live in the large house with Margreete. They accept her just as she is, declining memory and all. They surround her with love, declining memory and all. We learn much of her story from these memories. Not that everything is all sunshine and light. Families are individual entities made up of different personalities, and there are growing pains, struggles, differing wants, opinions. There is though, humor, tenderness, understanding and wonderful moments. This is a family that works its way into your heart. The world around them, in the fifties, sixties,seventies is full of change and this too is incorporated in the book. These changes impact this family in various ways, and they need to adapt to these influences and somehow remain whole. The beautiful Maine coastline is described beautifully. This is another of those quiet books, a wonderful book about lives lived and loved, of loss and starting again but most of all acceptance. The true meaning of family. My monthly read with Esil and Angela and another five star read for us all. ARC from Edelweiss.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This is a beautifully crafted family drama that takes us back to America in the 50s and 60s. The catalyst is the growing senile behavior or Liddie’s mother, Margreete. Her deterioration brings Liddie and her family back to Maine from Michigan. This move sets the stage for the family saga, as it demonstrates the family values and trials of that time. The children, Bernie, Eva and Gretchen are emblematic of this period of growing change and unrest. The family is influenced by the values of father, This is a beautifully crafted family drama that takes us back to America in the 50s and 60s. The catalyst is the growing senile behavior or Liddie’s mother, Margreete. Her deterioration brings Liddie and her family back to Maine from Michigan. This move sets the stage for the family saga, as it demonstrates the family values and trials of that time. The children, Bernie, Eva and Gretchen are emblematic of this period of growing change and unrest. The family is influenced by the values of father, Harry and his social activism. I found this novel very authentic and reminiscent of the roots of protest and activism that are so timely now. The only criticism of the book is that it left me wanting more! It is rare to feel such an attachment to characters that I’m hopeful that Morse will write another book that follows Liddie’s children into adulthood. Perhaps a trilogy? The characters are so well-drawn that I felt that I was part of their issues. Morse has captured the cultural birth of so many movements that are very timely today. I can think of dozens of questions for discussion with book groups. Personally, I can’t wait to engage in discourse and debate about the ongoing societal issues. I highly recommend this novel, for its engaging writing and its incorporation of social history. Thank you Netgalley for this extraordinary opportunity to read what I believe will be a BEST NOVEL of 2021.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    3.5 stars This book had some good moments here and there but it took me almost until the end before I started appreciating the story as a whole. So maybe not the best reading experience because I wasn't fully engaged at times, but overall I'm glad I read it. It's the late 1950s and Margreete wants to maintain her independence even though she is becoming more and more forgetful. Her daughter Liddie is concerned her mom can't properly take care of herself. So Liddie, her husband, Harry, and their c 3.5 stars This book had some good moments here and there but it took me almost until the end before I started appreciating the story as a whole. So maybe not the best reading experience because I wasn't fully engaged at times, but overall I'm glad I read it. It's the late 1950s and Margreete wants to maintain her independence even though she is becoming more and more forgetful. Her daughter Liddie is concerned her mom can't properly take care of herself. So Liddie, her husband, Harry, and their children move into Margreete's coastal Maine home. The story spans a few decades and follows the lives of each family member. Stick around and you get to witness the good, the bad, and everything in between when it comes to this family. The story has a bit of a slow pace feel even though it moves through many years and alternates between different characters. To be frank, I was bored during certain parts of the story. Having finished the book I can say I like what the author tried to bring to the table for each character even though I didn't always like how it was written. As a family drama, this book doesn't rank high on my favorites list but there were some key moments that hit me in a positive way. By the end, everything came together so basically I liked the final destination even if it was a rough journey. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance digital copy! All views expressed are my honest opinion.

  7. 5 out of 5

    vicki honeyman

    This novel is on par with every literary novel I've read over the past 40 years that has remained a part of me. Beautifully written with an obvious love and admiration for strong families, the story is a microscopic unzipping of a family at the end of the 1950's and the tumultuous 1960's on their entire family structure. The story takes place on the nature-battered coast of Maine, in the home of Margreete, the matriarchal grandmother who the story is built around, and each member of the family's This novel is on par with every literary novel I've read over the past 40 years that has remained a part of me. Beautifully written with an obvious love and admiration for strong families, the story is a microscopic unzipping of a family at the end of the 1950's and the tumultuous 1960's on their entire family structure. The story takes place on the nature-battered coast of Maine, in the home of Margreete, the matriarchal grandmother who the story is built around, and each member of the family's relationship to and with her. The children are young when they move into their grandmother's home. We witness their growth, their insecurities, and the changing family dynamics that are impacted by the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War on this loving family. I found nearly every sentence worthy of re-reading. I wish the book were being released now, as I'm going to talking about it until it's April release date!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I simply adored this book and hope it will become a classic of our times. Though it takes place during the 1950's and 60's it has a message that cannot be ignored. The simple, yet elegant writing style and the astute observations and actions of each character combined engage the reader fully. Each character could be someone we know; they are ordinary, yet each extraordinary in their approaches to life and situation. Margreete herself is a vehicle for both humor and realism. How the family relates I simply adored this book and hope it will become a classic of our times. Though it takes place during the 1950's and 60's it has a message that cannot be ignored. The simple, yet elegant writing style and the astute observations and actions of each character combined engage the reader fully. Each character could be someone we know; they are ordinary, yet each extraordinary in their approaches to life and situation. Margreete herself is a vehicle for both humor and realism. How the family relates to and handles her descent into dementia is very touching. Finally, this would be an excellent choice for a book club, particularly one with members of this generation. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    ARC received courtesy of Goodreads.com First Reads Giveaways I loved this novel. It is such a heartbreakingly true picture of what a family is that I couldn't read much of it at a time as I savored each word. Eleanor Morse is a genius with words in this novel. Her descriptions of life in the 60's with all of that decade's tumult and divisions between people just made me think that we haven't changed all that much...sadly... Margreete is an elderly woman suffering from dementia and living alone alo ARC received courtesy of Goodreads.com First Reads Giveaways I loved this novel. It is such a heartbreakingly true picture of what a family is that I couldn't read much of it at a time as I savored each word. Eleanor Morse is a genius with words in this novel. Her descriptions of life in the 60's with all of that decade's tumult and divisions between people just made me think that we haven't changed all that much...sadly... Margreete is an elderly woman suffering from dementia and living alone along the coast of Maine when she inadvertently burns her kitchen down. Her daughter, Liddie, comes from Michigan to assess the situation and makes the decision to move her husband and children in with her Mother. As the family grows from 2 children to 3 and Margreete's mind becomes more and more confused. the reader is part of the family because we "know" this family; perhaps our family is similar. Liddie's husband, Harry was a conscientious objector during WWII and watches with horror as the US battles in Korea and then Vietnam. Their oldest son Bernie is best friends with a black boy and understands implicitly that Noah will go to war and he will not have to to because he can go to college. Eva plays the piano as though she is a professional from the time she starts just like Liddie plays the cello. Gretchen is the baby of the family who just wants everything to stay the same. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Even though it is set in the 60's in Maine, you will see parts of your family in this book and maybe even get a little misty-eyed. It's just that wonderful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janall

    Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was hooked from the opening chapter if this book- after her mother nearly burns her house down, Liddie is faced with a non-choice- She has to pack up her family and move back home to care for her mother. Her mother Margreeth had always been fiercely independent and though no longer of sound mind, resents her, her husband and her children’s presence in her life. Several years ago, as my own Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was hooked from the opening chapter if this book- after her mother nearly burns her house down, Liddie is faced with a non-choice- She has to pack up her family and move back home to care for her mother. Her mother Margreeth had always been fiercely independent and though no longer of sound mind, resents her, her husband and her children’s presence in her life. Several years ago, as my own mother was beginning to age, I was faced with a similar choice. I instantly recognized the stubbornness of Margreeth that seems to go hand to hand with old age. As the family adjusts to their life in Maine, we learn more about them as people. Liddie, a professional cellist, music is her solace. Her husband Harry desperately trying to make the world a better place for his children and their children Bernie and Eva. Bernie smart, observant and awkward. Evie the middle child, a creative soul and baby Gretchen who’s tender heart feels all that is wrong with the world. Margreeth aware that she is slowly losing her mind, fierce, proud and trying to hold on desperately hanging on as long as she can to her independence. It’s essentially a love story of a family. Tender, flawed people living with the choices they made, or didn’t make. The turbulent 1960s when it seemed that everything was wrong with the world, and this little family finds that all you have is each other.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I really enjoyed the time period and the family that was placed in it. This era w I think for me that this was a hard book for me to read. Why you ask? I feel that dementia is a hard thing to address. While I might not have any experience in that area I can't imagine what it must be like for the families that do. My heart went out to Margareet and her family. There were places in the book that I wanted to cry because it was so very sad. In many cases in this story I even snickered at some of the sc I really enjoyed the time period and the family that was placed in it. This era w I think for me that this was a hard book for me to read. Why you ask? I feel that dementia is a hard thing to address. While I might not have any experience in that area I can't imagine what it must be like for the families that do. My heart went out to Margareet and her family. There were places in the book that I wanted to cry because it was so very sad. In many cases in this story I even snickered at some of the scenes. I think the author has done an excellent job on this subject and has managed to bring it to life so us readers can get a glimpse of how families deal with this issue. The characters in this beautiful story were well rounded out and I enjoyed in getting to know each character. Margareet especially. I thought she was a jem. This book deserves 5 stars and more! I am looking forward to more from this author. My thanks to Netgalley for a beautiful story. One that I highly recommend. This is one of a few books that I've read that wouldn't let me put it down until I was finished. It also left me thinking about the characters especially Margareet long after the story was finished. I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Frosty61

    This is more a case study of a family than a book with a lot of action and plot. It starts out with an elderly woman, Margreete who lives in Maine, accidently setting her kitchen on fire which results in her daughter deciding to uproot her own family in Michigan to come to live with her. There are multiple viewpoints and struggles to adapt, but Margreete becomes a minor character. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lori Tatar

    This is an absolutely gorgeous story. It is so very real, so very anybody’s family, from the youngest daughter who is almost an afterthought to the grandmother with Alzheimer’s, these people are so relatable. Their lives are our lives. The book explores sexuality, trust and sacrifice, war and ideologies. It examines family and loyalty in a deeply personal manner that is unique yet for each of us. With candor and the deepest insight, Eleanor Morse shows us how we live and that we are not alone. Ma This is an absolutely gorgeous story. It is so very real, so very anybody’s family, from the youngest daughter who is almost an afterthought to the grandmother with Alzheimer’s, these people are so relatable. Their lives are our lives. The book explores sexuality, trust and sacrifice, war and ideologies. It examines family and loyalty in a deeply personal manner that is unique yet for each of us. With candor and the deepest insight, Eleanor Morse shows us how we live and that we are not alone. Margreete’s Harbor is a passionate and profound love story about a family, and that family is us.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Margreete’s Harbor is a tender story of Margreete’s daughter and family trying to balance their lives with their children, while Margreete is slowly losing her grasp on reality. Eleanor Morse drew me into the story and kept me enthralled and pulling for this family to the end of the book. This would make a great Lifetime Movie!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    The setting is in Maine. The timeline is the 1960's at an unsettled period in history. Margreete Bright's enitre family move into their mother's big, old home to assist her as her dementia progresses.. Margreete has come way to close to burning her home down, as well as often getting lost too many times. Her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are all moving in. It certainly will be a challenge! Margreete is aware that she is not able to recall things easily and often is up all night searching The setting is in Maine. The timeline is the 1960's at an unsettled period in history. Margreete Bright's enitre family move into their mother's big, old home to assist her as her dementia progresses.. Margreete has come way to close to burning her home down, as well as often getting lost too many times. Her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are all moving in. It certainly will be a challenge! Margreete is aware that she is not able to recall things easily and often is up all night searching for "things" not recalling what "things" she needs to find. She never wanted to forget her loved ones and prays that this will be over soon. My very favorite analogy that Margreete relates to her forgetting is this: "Each time the waves pull back a little farther, they take a little more sand with them, grain by grain, until your feet are rocking." This is a beautiful tale of love, heartache, and family for this family.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    This is another book I didn't want to end! Several of the characters had such complex inner lives that everyday life was sometimes a challenge for them; I can fully identify with that. Margreete reminded me of my mother - both knew her mind was losing bits and pieces every day yet they were determined and stubborn and insisted on living their life on their terms until death arrived. Margreete was probably my favorite character (and the family dog), then Liddie and Bernie. It was remarkable how t This is another book I didn't want to end! Several of the characters had such complex inner lives that everyday life was sometimes a challenge for them; I can fully identify with that. Margreete reminded me of my mother - both knew her mind was losing bits and pieces every day yet they were determined and stubborn and insisted on living their life on their terms until death arrived. Margreete was probably my favorite character (and the family dog), then Liddie and Bernie. It was remarkable how the author was able to craft personal and interpersonal growth for each of the characters without stepping away from the story line; this couldn't have been easy to achieve. This one will definitely remain with me several more days, requiring rereading of some passages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    This novel is a beautifully written window into the lives of a young family in 1960s Maine. As the family struggles though issues such as infidelity, death, and sexual orientation, we are given a front row seat. The author takes us into the minds of multiple characters, allowing us to witness life from multiple points of view, and experiencing what often end up being secrets hidden from the rest of the family.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annette Geiss

    Margreete’s Harbor is a beautifully written novel of a family and its dynamics, turmoil, unconditional love and understanding and misunderstanding! Sound complicated? It is. Anyone with a family and extended family knows the equilibrium within its confines can be complex. This book touches on so many emotions and as the family grows, so do many problems but also many resolutions and solutions. Children come of age. Adults transition. But what remains constant, is the bond the family shares. I re Margreete’s Harbor is a beautifully written novel of a family and its dynamics, turmoil, unconditional love and understanding and misunderstanding! Sound complicated? It is. Anyone with a family and extended family knows the equilibrium within its confines can be complex. This book touches on so many emotions and as the family grows, so do many problems but also many resolutions and solutions. Children come of age. Adults transition. But what remains constant, is the bond the family shares. I really enjoyed this read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, Eleanor Morse, and St. Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read Margreete's Harbor of my own volition, and this review represents my honest opinion of this work. I am especially pleased to have 'found' Eleanor Morse. She is a writer with warmth and style I find particularly pleasing, one I will follow. A novel of the 1960's on the coast of Maine, this tale brings us right into I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, Eleanor Morse, and St. Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read Margreete's Harbor of my own volition, and this review represents my honest opinion of this work. I am especially pleased to have 'found' Eleanor Morse. She is a writer with warmth and style I find particularly pleasing, one I will follow. A novel of the 1960's on the coast of Maine, this tale brings us right into the trials and tribulations of the day, as well as immersing us into a family dynamic that many of us have faced at one time or another. Margreete Bright, a strong-willed, independent soul, is drifting into dementia. Her only child Liddie lives with her husband Harry and their children Eva and Bernie, in Michigan. Their life is well established and fulfilling but Margreete has set fire to the kitchen, it is not safe for her to continue to live alone, and there is not enough money to hire a home nurse. Liddie would not consider placing her mother in a nursing home - an act that would kill her sooner rather than later. The only foreseeable solution is for Liddie to uproot her family, move home, and start over in Burnt Harbor so they will be there to take care of Margreete. They will all miss their life in Michigan but must do what they must do. Margreete will not leave her home so they must go to her. And it's not so bad as it could have been. The family home Liddie grew up in, though a bit shabby and needing upkeep, is large and accommodating and situated on the harbor. Harry finds work teaching at a local school, Liddie set's up cello classes and soon has as many students as she can handle, and though she misses the group she did concerts with for years in Michigan, she is sure she will find another group of like-minded souls. The kids find friends quickly and don't hate their school, and life settles down to a dull roar. Some of the problems that dementia brings on are nerve-racking but Margreete is also very funny and is occasionally the woman she once was. We watch this family grow and flourish, the love and compassion even the children have for Margreete making it all worthwhile. The 1960s were very trying times. We have the Vietnam War, the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Bobby Kennedy, the moonwalk, and the cold war. We see them all through the eyes of this family, these youngsters, and if you are like me, it puts you right back there. But there were very good occasions in those times, and we see them as well. Altogether an enjoyable walk through the past, with a family you will love. I can't wait to read more from Eleanor Marse. Fortunately, she has more works already out there. pub date April 20, 2021 St. Martin's Press Reviewed on April 4, 2021, at Goodreads and Netgalley. Reviewed on April 20, 2021, at AmazonSmile, Barnes&Noble, BookBub, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    "Margreete was beginning to live in a country of her own, where time had no meaning" Life is filled with moments and we turn them into memories. Margreete now lived in those memories. but she still had much to teach Liddie and her family. They of course felt like screaming sometimes, but especially Bernie, Eva and Gretchen accepted her and cared for her. A lesson to be learned by all of us today...........take care of your family. One day, if you are lucky , your memories will bring a smile to yo "Margreete was beginning to live in a country of her own, where time had no meaning" Life is filled with moments and we turn them into memories. Margreete now lived in those memories. but she still had much to teach Liddie and her family. They of course felt like screaming sometimes, but especially Bernie, Eva and Gretchen accepted her and cared for her. A lesson to be learned by all of us today...........take care of your family. One day, if you are lucky , your memories will bring a smile to your face. I think Margreete lives on in her harbor. Good book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Claire Wilkins

    When Liddie’s Mom, Margreete had a major fire in her kitchen, Liddie tried to tell her Mom she needed to move into a care home,but Margreete was having none of it. She was loosing her memory, a tragic state of affairs for the family, so sad. The family decided to move to Burnt Harbour, Maine, otherwise know as Margreete’s Harbour to live with her mother. A small isolated town, very different from the city they had left. Liddie had to put her cello away, no more concerts for her, Harry had to fin When Liddie’s Mom, Margreete had a major fire in her kitchen, Liddie tried to tell her Mom she needed to move into a care home,but Margreete was having none of it. She was loosing her memory, a tragic state of affairs for the family, so sad. The family decided to move to Burnt Harbour, Maine, otherwise know as Margreete’s Harbour to live with her mother. A small isolated town, very different from the city they had left. Liddie had to put her cello away, no more concerts for her, Harry had to find a new job, the kids a new school and try to make new friends. Margarette didn’t want the family there, she asked the same questions over and over, wandered around all over the house, climbed into everyone’s bed and forgot where she was and who you were. But the love that grew between them all is beautiful. The author has betrayed their family life with extraordinary ease, each family member having their own say dealing with their emotions, their struggles and beliefs. I highly recommend reading this book, it is very hard to put down!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Taurie

    I did not expect to love this book, but I absolutely do. I felt so connected with the characters and so invested in them. Margareete herself is an amazing character. So hilarious and lovable and so, so sad. Then add in an entire family and a couple pets... each person had their own faults and I found myself loving them through it all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    It took me a bit to get into this one, but once I did I found it very compelling. It’s a story of a daughter and her family coming together to take care of her mom. who can no longer be live on her own. Margreete Bright has always been independent and likes it that way…until she almost burned down her home and had to admit to herself she needed help. And so Liddie, her very talented daughter and her family uproot their loves and move to Maine to live with and take care of her. It a turbulent tim It took me a bit to get into this one, but once I did I found it very compelling. It’s a story of a daughter and her family coming together to take care of her mom. who can no longer be live on her own. Margreete Bright has always been independent and likes it that way…until she almost burned down her home and had to admit to herself she needed help. And so Liddie, her very talented daughter and her family uproot their loves and move to Maine to live with and take care of her. It a turbulent time in America. The late ’50’s and 60’s a bring about so much change in every way. Everyone is struggling to figure out who they are, the new world order, their very way of life and questioning every belief they’ve ever had. Liddie desperately wants to go home to Maine. Harry, her husband does not. At all. Not even a little teeny tiny bit and yet she is fully prepared to go without him. And so begins the next ten years of Liddie, her family and everyone trying to figure it, themselves and everything else out together and as individuals while blending in some difficult subjects that she touches on, but doesn’t really explore and the history of the times. Interesting, but not an easy or relaxing read. I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    Set in Maine’s coastal area during the late 50’s through the 60’s, this novel takes us through the lives of Margreete and her family. Margreete is an independent woman who is slowly forgetting who she is and was. So when she accidentally starts a fire in her kitchen, her children know they need to do something. Margreet isn’t going anywhere as she flits through the book wondering what these people are doing in her house. Her daughter Liddie and her husband and children move in with her to try and Set in Maine’s coastal area during the late 50’s through the 60’s, this novel takes us through the lives of Margreete and her family. Margreete is an independent woman who is slowly forgetting who she is and was. So when she accidentally starts a fire in her kitchen, her children know they need to do something. Margreet isn’t going anywhere as she flits through the book wondering what these people are doing in her house. Her daughter Liddie and her husband and children move in with her to try and keep her in the house and out of a nursing facility. None of them are happy about it and soon we are dealing with an unhappy wife who just wants to play her cello, kids who are dealing with the turbulence that was the sixties, a husband who can’t be quiet about the Vietnam War and who cheats on his wife. All the while Margreete is fading into the background, almost forgotten herself. Against the backdrop of all the craziness of the sixties, there were a lot of things happening in this book. But the one thing that wasn’t was communication. A very dysfunctional family dealing with a matriarch who doesn’t even know who they are. The question of when to let someone you love live a better life outside of their home is never an easy one. I felt so bad for Margreete and by the end of the book she was almost invisible. NetGalley/ April 20, 2021, St. Martin’s Press

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    This book surprised me. I thought it would be a slice-of-life story about Margreete, an older woman living with Alzheimer's on the coast of Maine. This story was that but so much more. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, we follow Margreete's decline but largely through the eyes of her daughter Liddie and her family -- her husband Harry, son Bernie, and daughters Eva and Gretchen. The family picks up and moves to Maine to be with Margreete, as she can't be trusted living alone--the book opens with her ne This book surprised me. I thought it would be a slice-of-life story about Margreete, an older woman living with Alzheimer's on the coast of Maine. This story was that but so much more. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, we follow Margreete's decline but largely through the eyes of her daughter Liddie and her family -- her husband Harry, son Bernie, and daughters Eva and Gretchen. The family picks up and moves to Maine to be with Margreete, as she can't be trusted living alone--the book opens with her nearly burning her house down. Part coming-of-age story for the three kids, and coming-of-age in a different way for Liddie and Harry, the longing, observational tone of the book is incredibly relatable. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Eva and Gretchen, as I remember being a child their ages and experiencing similar highs and lows, thoughts, and wishes. I admit that for the first half of the book, I found the time setting somewhat unbelievable and unnecessary (but that could totally be my bias for having not grown up in the 50s or 60s and only having a Hollywood idea of what it was like then). I felt like the story could have been told in any time, really, until the Vietnam War--the war is crucial to the telling of this story and directly shapes the lives of all involved. Once I understood that, I settled in to the time period better. I am sorry to say I thought this book would be mostly fluff, an easy read that reminded me of living on the coast in Maine--instead it was a beautiful, real, and moving story of life, loss, growth, and humanity.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    As the novel opens, it’s 1955 in Burnt Harbor, Maine. Margreete is a widow with three grown children (Liddie, Peter and Willard) but she’s living on her own and facing the challenges of growing old. Margreete’s Harbor is both a small and a large book. It’s small in the sense that the real focus is on Margreete, and Liddie and her family (husband Harry and their three children). Except for a little time in Michigan at the beginning, the book revolves around their lives in a small town in Maine. Ot As the novel opens, it’s 1955 in Burnt Harbor, Maine. Margreete is a widow with three grown children (Liddie, Peter and Willard) but she’s living on her own and facing the challenges of growing old. Margreete’s Harbor is both a small and a large book. It’s small in the sense that the real focus is on Margreete, and Liddie and her family (husband Harry and their three children). Except for a little time in Michigan at the beginning, the book revolves around their lives in a small town in Maine. Other characters and locations float in and out, most very briefly and only appearing once. It was a large book to me because, among other things, it covers a long and eventful period of time (from 1955-1968), along with glimpses into Margreete, Liddie’s and Harry’s lives at earlier times. The book incorporates many of the pressing issues of the time in a thoughtful and appropriate way... not just throwing them in haphazardly. I always like to read books set in Maine, but this one was in a time period that I haven’t read about in too many novels. In case you weren’t aware of the time period, you’ll see it right up front as Liddie has to take multiple buses to travel, from Michigan to Maine to visit her mother. With the limited number of characters, the author takes the opportunity to really fully develop them over a long period of time. I would have liked to know more about Liddie’s brothers. Otherwise, very much enjoyed the book and appreciate receiving the advanced copy from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Mijangos

    I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Margreete leaves bacon drippings simmering on her stove and burns down the kitchen. Liddie, her daughter, Henry, her son-in-law, and their children move back to Maine to live with Margreete after deciding that it was the best option. There were natural resentments and also blessings that arose from their new living circumstances. The novel focuses on all the family--Margreete, Liddie, Henry, and their children. It i I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Margreete leaves bacon drippings simmering on her stove and burns down the kitchen. Liddie, her daughter, Henry, her son-in-law, and their children move back to Maine to live with Margreete after deciding that it was the best option. There were natural resentments and also blessings that arose from their new living circumstances. The novel focuses on all the family--Margreete, Liddie, Henry, and their children. It is thought-provoking and displays believable, raw emotion. I highly recommend this beautiful novel.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maria Logan-Montgomery

    I was invited by St. Martin’s Press to read the ARC of Margarete's Harbor in exchange for an honest review. This saga by Eleanor Morse, is a commentary on multiple topics ranging from dealing with a feisty parent suffering from dementia to draft dodgers and the protests over the Vietnam War, to one character who questions God, a struggling marriage, a flood caused by greedy developers, a pedophile schoolteacher, and a teenager who begins to recognize he is gay. Set in 1950s and ‘60s Maine, the au I was invited by St. Martin’s Press to read the ARC of Margarete's Harbor in exchange for an honest review. This saga by Eleanor Morse, is a commentary on multiple topics ranging from dealing with a feisty parent suffering from dementia to draft dodgers and the protests over the Vietnam War, to one character who questions God, a struggling marriage, a flood caused by greedy developers, a pedophile schoolteacher, and a teenager who begins to recognize he is gay. Set in 1950s and ‘60s Maine, the author’s lovely prose describes the ocean scenery, the rough turbulent surf, and the local flowers in a way that makes me want to visit the area. Against this beautiful backdrop, the aging Margarete almost burns down her home when she turns on the stove, then goes to take a shower. Her daughter, Liddie, and Liddie’s husband, Harry, decide they must move from Michigan to Maine to care for Margarete. As a professional cellist, Liddie’s main joy in life is music. For Harry, it’s teaching history. Moving to the remote village of Burnt Harbor (which Margarete calls her own) is difficult both emotionally and career-wise for the two of them. When Harry criticizes the U.S. position on the war, his job is threatened. It can be risky to deal with too many issues in one book, but Ms. Morse pulls it off beautifully. Margarete's Harbor makes us examine our own beliefs and struggles, but without sounding condescending. It ended a bit more abruptly than I prefer, but I highly recommend this book to lovers of this genre. What made The Grumpy Book Reviewer grumpy? I am happy to say not a lot: • incorrect verb usage — bringing vs. taking; come vs. go, were vs. was; • two questions that need question marks instead of periods.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    A beautiful, beautiful book. Margreete lives alone and in her growing forgetfulness nearly burns down her home. Her daughter Liddie feels she needs to move her family back to Maine to take care of her. Thus follows the next 10 years of their lives. There are moments of near boredom in the story as it replicates a normal family's life, the highs and lows and there are moments of such great sadness that nearly suffocated me with grief. And the smells. Smells of the sea, old dog smells, old lady sm A beautiful, beautiful book. Margreete lives alone and in her growing forgetfulness nearly burns down her home. Her daughter Liddie feels she needs to move her family back to Maine to take care of her. Thus follows the next 10 years of their lives. There are moments of near boredom in the story as it replicates a normal family's life, the highs and lows and there are moments of such great sadness that nearly suffocated me with grief. And the smells. Smells of the sea, old dog smells, old lady smells and a young child only remembering that her grandfather smelled like a cereal box. What shall my grandchildren remember of me? This is truly a very special book, one I'll always treasure. Thank you to Goodreads for a copy for my review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I was hooked from the get-go when the matriarch suffers a memory lapse and almost burns her house down. This is the start of a family needing to care for the mother who could no longer be on her own. The decision to move and share a house with someone who was once independent affects everyone. We follow this family during the 50s and 60s where the daughter has to care for her mother and her family while trying to have her own life as a musician. Her husband wasn't happy about the change in their I was hooked from the get-go when the matriarch suffers a memory lapse and almost burns her house down. This is the start of a family needing to care for the mother who could no longer be on her own. The decision to move and share a house with someone who was once independent affects everyone. We follow this family during the 50s and 60s where the daughter has to care for her mother and her family while trying to have her own life as a musician. Her husband wasn't happy about the change in their lives and he struggles with his dislike of the Vietnam War and their stagnant marriage, and the children have their growth and changes and searching for what they want. This family drama is full of struggles, adaptation, forgiveness, love, and just being human with some flaws but finding strength from their family. Beautiful, family story. Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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