At The Breakers

At The Breakers: A Novel

Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
Series: Kentucky Voices
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jcgsm
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  • Book Info
    At The Breakers
    Book Description:

    "Soon or a little too lateeverything you never knewyou always wanted turns uphereat The Breakers" -- from the book In her new novel At The Breakers, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, author of the widely praised and beloved Come and Go, Molly Snow, presents Jo Sinclair, a longtime single mother of four children. Fleeing an abusive relationship after a shocking attack, Jo finds herself in Sea Cove, New Jersey, in front of The Breakers, a salty old hotel in the process of renovation. Impulsively, she negotiates a job painting the guest rooms and settles in with her youngest child, thirteen-year-old Nick. As each room is transformed under brush and roller, Jo finds a way to renovate herself, reclaiming a promising life derailed by pregnancy and a forced marriage at age fourteen. Jo's new life at the hotel features a memorable mix of locals and guests, among them Iris Zephyr, the hotel's ninety-two-year-old permanent boarder; Charlie, a noble mixed-breed dog; Marco, owner of a nearby gas station/liquor store, who may become Jo's next mistake; and enigmatic Wendy, her streetwise eighteen-year-old daughter, who signs on as housekeeper. Irrepressible Victor Mangold, Jo's former professor and a well-known poet some twenty years her senior, invites himself to Thanksgiving dinner and into her life, his passion awakening Jo's yearning for art and love. At The Breakers is a deeply felt and beautifully written novel about forgiveness and reconciliation. In Jo's words, she is "trying to find the right way to live" as a long-suffering woman who is put through the fire and emerges with a chance at a full, rich life for herself and her children, if only she has the faith to take it.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7338-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. part one September
    (pp. 1-52)

    SHE READ WITH her folded arms pressed against her stomach. The warmth she created for herself there comforted her. It seemed that it was a girl’s body she was protecting this way—her own at ten or eleven, or the body of one of her daughters at that age, some not-yet-sexual girl, whom she loved. She couldn’t keep her mind steady, couldn’t quite take seriously, as the train sped along through the sumac thickets and marshes and industrial sites of eastern New Jersey, the world of the novel that lay open in her lap, the pastoral two-centuries-ago world now tidying...

  4. part two November
    (pp. 53-116)

    FROM THE ROOM she was painting, on the third floor, there was a glimpse of ocean at the end of the long block. The air was full of gulls, shrieking on the November wind, roosting on ledges up and down the street.

    She and Irv Brewer had arrived at a decorating scheme: every room a different color, but all the bathrooms white. White woodwork, white curtains and bedspreads, white lampshades—then on to the next room down the hall. This simple plan had a soothing effect on Irv. He was approving, appreciative. He trusted her instincts, he gravely confided.

    Her...

  5. part three November & December
    (pp. 117-174)

    JO TOOK Mrs. Caspari’s bag. They walked arm-in-arm, like old European ladies, her firm bosom pressed cozily against Jo’s upper arm.

    “I think it will just be Iris and you and Nick and I, till this is over.”

    “Won’t that be lovely and quiet?” Mrs. Caspari said, as though quiet would be a rare treat for her. Her fine hair was snatched back any which way, half of it falling down around her face, which, though weathered, still had an aspect of youthful sweetness. In spite of her sturdiness, there was a will-o’-the-wisp, drifting quality to her, but occasionally through...

  6. part four Christmas Week
    (pp. 175-228)

    IRV HAD AGREED to pay Jo an extra ten bucks a night for being on call, from midnight to eight. She rarely had to get up to let someone in. She put the money away to pay for Nick’s teeth.

    She still got up at four, but she dressed for the day before she sat down at the computer. She felt she was reporting for work, clearheaded, alert. The computer keys made an onrushing sound, the sound of someone getting somewhere. She was aware of it for a few seconds, then lost in concentration again. So, here, two days before...

  7. part five January
    (pp. 229-260)

    AT TWILIGHT, THEY entered the Holland Tunnel and emerged into the brightly lit, charged-up New year’s Eve city. Soon they were out in the throngs of early Times Square celebrants, who rushed along, vivid, urgent, as though trying to flee in the waning moments of the world, before the bomb dropped at midnight on them and the pretzel and chestnut vendors, the great neon displays which loomed above, the movie and theater marquees and yellow taxis. Vendors yelled out, “Blow your ownhorn,blow yourownhorn.” A man in handcuffs was being loaded onto a stretcher, and then into...

  8. part six Late January
    (pp. 261-310)

    SOON ENOUGH, SHE was walking in the late-afternoon drizzle seaward along the empty sidewalk. The smell of the ocean was in the air, and there it was, or at least the white blankness above it, at the end of Atlantic Boulevard. And now, here was the solid old clapboard hotel, like a hundred others in seaside villages along this straight strip of northern coastline. The three steps up onto the long porch, the carved double doors with arched, beveled windows set in, lamplight shining through.

    A dozen people—all strangers to her—milled about in the lobby, rained-out and restless,...

  9. part seven January 28
    (pp. 311-338)

    AND NOW THE bride: flowing down the third-floor hall in an under-the-sea silvery-green garment, yards of silky material, the most bundled-up Jo had seen Wendy since she was in a snowsuit. It draped over one shoulder, fell in pleats to her feet, which were clad in silver sandals. Jo waited for her daughter at the head of the stairs, in her long midnight-blue dress (fifteen years old, worn just once, for her own last wedding) and her pearls, with a red rose pinned to her shoulder. A replica of Miss Liberty’s dangerous and, to Jo’s mind, singularly inhospitable-looking crown of...

  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 339-340)