Title: Casting Off
Author: Nicole Dickson
Release Date: July 28, 2009
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rebecca Moray travels to Ireland with her daughter, Rowan, in order to research Irish knitting. She is broken in many ways and isn’t sure she can ever heal emotionally from the tragedies that have occurred in her life. In Ireland, young Rowan meets curmudgeon Sean Morahan who has never recovered from the ghosts of his past. He no longer knows how to be friendly to anyone because he is so damaged inside – but with Rowan’s help, he may learn to let go. This novel is one of coming to terms with your past and learning to live each day, rather than being consumed by what has happened in your life.
I really enjoy novels about damaged people going on a journey, and in the process, finding ways to heal. Casting Off looked like a great book in this vein, and while it was enjoyable, it also contained a few unique surprises that I very much appreciated.
The cast of characters in Casting Off is large and wonderfully drawn. I had some trouble keeping track of them because there are so many characters coming into and out of the story. Dickson does an admirable job making this book about so much more than Rebecca and Sean – instead, it’s about the entire island. It’s a book with a community of characters, rather than just one or two main characters.
The unique aspect of Casting Off that I mentioned earlier is the fact that there is no romance between Rebecca and Sean. Too often in books such as this, the formula is to create a broken girl and a damaged guy and to make them find healing in a relationship with one another. Instead, Sean is old enough to be Rebecca’s father, and there isn’t all that much interaction between the two of them in this novel. They make themselves whole again on their own terms, rather than the terms of others. It was a simple thing that made this novel different from the rest, which I very much appreciated.
Casting Off has two narrators (Rebecca and Sean), and it’s relatively easy to tell when they switch voices. However, what is more difficult is when the leaps in time occur. Dickson uses flashbacks to tell the story, and (at least in the ARC I read) there is no way to distinguish them from the present tense. As a result, I was very confused at the beginning with regard to Sean’s story, because I didn’t understand that a certain part I read hadn’t been occurring in the present.
Still, Casting Off is an enjoyable novel that I recommend for fans of women’s fiction. The stories about Irish knitting were really interesting and the characters well-written. It’s a good, cozy story that is perfect for a rainy afternoon!