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Review: Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton

Blurb from Goodreads:
A beautiful debut set around the creation of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium—and the last days of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.

In 1940, fifteen year-old Margot Fiske arrives on the shores of Monterey Bay with her eccentric entrepreneur father. Margot has been her father’s apprentice all over the world, until an accident in Monterey’s tide pools drives them apart and plunges her head-first into the mayhem of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.

Steinbeck is hiding out from his burgeoning fame at the raucous lab of Ed Ricketts, the biologist known as Doc in Cannery Row. Ricketts, a charismatic bohemian, quickly becomes the object of Margot’s fascination. Despite Steinbeck’s protests and her father’s misgivings, she wrangles a job as Ricketts’s sketch artist and begins drawing the strange and wonderful sea creatures he pulls from the waters of the bay. Unbeknownst to Margot, her father is also working with Ricketts. He is soliciting the biologist’s advice on his most ambitious and controversial project to date: the transformation of the Row’s largest cannery into an aquarium. When Margot begins an affair with Ricketts, she sets in motion a chain of events that will affect not just the two of them, but the future of Monterey as well. 
My Review:
This really is the year of debuts for me!  I've read so many debuts and many of them have been really great!  It's exciting to read such a diverse mix of debuts and to imagine what each author will come up with next. In this vein, Monterey Bay is a gorgeous historical fiction novel about the last days of Steinbeck's Cannery Row but the book mostly focuses on Margot Fiske.  Alternating between 1940, 1948 and 1998 -- Margot's days in Monterey -- from a life and road-weary 15 year old to one of the most powerful and known persons in Monterey.  The first scene is probably the most vital to the story -- you won't know how bittersweet it is until the end and you will be filled with such hope when you read it; you have no chance to predict what will happen.  This is one of those books that took me awhile to find a rhythm in reading it -- I had to concentrate on each sentence -- but it ended up worth such work at the end.

Monterey Bay came out last week on July 19, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I definitely recommend this one to fans of historical fiction and fans of John Steinbeck.  Or, if you've ever had that desire to be a marine biologist, this one might pique your interest as well.
She lets the kelp crabs pinch her on purpose.  She siphons the pistol shrimp exhibit and leaves her lips on the tube for a second too long so that some of the ocean gets in her mouth. She picks parasites from the accordion folds of a leopard shark's gills and wonders, for what seems like the millionth time, if breathing water is better than breathing air.  She fees the sea nettles a cup of bright green rotifers and marvels at the orange embrace of the world's most elegant killer.  She sees something hovering in the distance, huge and terrible and tentacled and white.   


  1. Oh now I want to pick up this book just so I understand what you mean about the bittersweet beginning scene that doesn't make sense until the end. I'm so glad you're having such terrific luck with debut novels! :)

  2. My favorite books last year (and some of them this year) were debuts. I love John Steinbeck, so this one might just be for me.

  3. That bittersweet comment has me intrigued on the story. I'm glad you enjoyed this one and that debuts have been your thing this year :)

  4. Glad you are having such good luck with debuts, it's always fun to find new authors to love and follow. ;)

  5. I love finding a debut that can hook me or surprise me or make me feel something. There's such a sense of promise there - like, I can't wait to see what this author does next. When I read the first bit of the synopsis and it mentioned 1940 I was about to start skimming - because that's a time period that I don't usually enjoy reading about. Just doesn't interest me. But then I read your review and saw that the time period alternates... okay, now I'm more interested. And your comment about the first scene really has me intrigued.


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