Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blog Tour: The Ocean Between Us

Today I'm fortunate to be a stop on Susan Wiggs' The Ocean Between Us, blog tour.

The Synopsis:

Steve Bennett is a perfect navy officer with a perfect navy family, and he's confident that his world is just the way it should be. But his son wants to be an artist instead of attending the U.S. Naval Academy, and his stalwart and capable wife of 20 years, Grace, is tired of being the perfect navy wife. She wants her own home, and she wants her own career. She's feeling altogether unsettled, but nothing is more unsettling than the secret her husband has hidden from her their entire marriage. Nothing, that is, until the accident on the carrier.

My Review:

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from The Ocean Between Us. More often than not, I've found myself not enjoying fiction about military life, either because I didn't find it accurate or it just didn't grab my interest. I can honestly say that neither of those things occurred when I read The Ocean Between Us. I actually read the entire book in one day and couldn't put it down.

What I liked best about the book was that it conveyed how hard it is to balance your own life while supporting a husband who is in the military. Sometimes it feels like our lives get put on the back burner because our husbands' career is so encompassing and I felt like this book really dealt with that issue in a way that was believable.

Now, the guest post from author Susan Wiggs

A Woman Like You
by Susan Wiggs

One of the most satisfying things about writing is creating characters. I don’t always love my main character. I might understand her inside and out, but some of them are not exactly gals I’d like to go to lunch with. Is that odd?
I didn’t love Grace Bennett, the main character of The Ocean Between Us, but from day one, I understood her. She’s a woman like you, like me, like your sister or best friend. She’s in the thick of family life, the mother of three teenagers and the wife of a handsome, ambitious man. From the outside, she looks as if she has it all, an enviable life as a Navy officer’s spouse. But something’s going on with Grace. She’s feeling discontented. This was not a likable trait–I wanted her to be grateful for what she had. But I could understand her. She’s looking around, wondering about her life. When is it going to be her time?
She discovers in the middle of her life that she has misplaced herself. This happens to women all the time. We get so caught up in running a household, managing kids and money, helping our husbands that one day we wake up and wonder: What about me? What about the dreams I put on the shelf ten or twenty years ago?
So this was a story about a woman and her marriage–a good marriage, as it happens. Novels about bad marriages abound, and I wanted this one to be about two good people who love each other, but who, over the course of their long relationship, have lost each other. Writing about a good marriage isn't easy, because by definition, a functional marriage lacks the high level of drama needed to power a novel. And up until this book, all my novels have ended with marriage, or at least with a commitment in that direction.
This was also something new for me because I was writing about a military family. Grace really came alive for me when I crafted a scene–based on real life–in which she takes part in a Change of Command ceremony. This is an elaborate event, steeped in tradition and attended by family, friends, dignitaries and a brass band, during which an officer is given his new command.
One of the most meaningful moments is when the Command Pin is pinned on the officer’s chest. This gesture is traditionally done by the spouse, with the children looking on. It’s fraught with symbolism, the ultimate gesture of sacrifice–both to her husband, and to her country, entrusting him with his command, even knowing it could take him far away from her, into the heart of danger. In this scene, Grace willingly gave her blessing to her husband’s mission, knowing he’d be gone for months at a time. She was sending him to face dangers no civilian can imagine and perhaps even come back unalterably changed–or not at all. The bravery of military families touched my heart, and I wanted to put that on the page.
That was my starting point with Grace. Then began an exploration. The story unfolded, and suddenly I realized she had quite a story to tell. Left alone with her kids as her husband, Steve, goes out to sea, she begins a journey of her own, a journey of self-discovery. And just as she’s on the brink of claiming a new life for herself, the unthinkable happens. A mishap aboard her husband’s aircraft carrier throws the entire family into a tailspin, forcing Grace to fight for everything she holds dear.
I’d love to hear about your favorite characters in fiction. Did you love them, hate them, understand them, relate to them? What characters do you remember and wonder about, and think about long after the book is closed?

If you want to read more about the book or the author, please visit the official site here.

Be sure to swing by Harlequin Blog on Monday for the next stop of Susan’s Blog tour!


♥ Annie ♥ said...

You have piqued my interest...I might just have to read this book :) I was just talking to a friend today about living in the shadow of our soldiers.

Stephanie Hartman said...

This book sounds really good I'm going to have to go pick up a copy thanks..

SS said...

Sounds interesting... have added to the Good Reads "to read" list!

Full of Heart said...

I think I might need to read that..!

Mom in High Heels said...

I'm generally not a big fan of military spouse books because, well, they're usually not that good,but I love Susan Wiggs' writing. I may have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Emily @ Longley's in San Diego said...

I feel the same way about shows/books that protrey the military. It just doesn't seem accurate. But this sounds interesting. You got me hooked ha.

About the girl: said...

I loved reading the comments about this book. It looks so interesting. I think when I'm ready to get a new book, this is my choice. Thank you again for posting about it.