I feel like it took me forever to read this book, which is not a good sign. An even worse sign is that I nearly abandoned it a couple of times and I did skim over entire parts of it. I’m usually a huge fan of Ford’s work, but Changing Tides left me a bit cold. Yet, I could never quite abandon it because just as I was at that point something would happen that would reengage me.
The book has three primary stories: 1) Marine biologist Ben is facing the prospect of spending time with his sixteen year old daughter, Caddie, for the first time in nearly a decade. He’s been divorced and pursuing his own thing when his ex-wife decides that Caddie needs to spend the summer with him in Monterey. 2) Caddie resents leaving LA and her friends for a summer in Montrery. She is the perfect, nearly cliched, picture of the angry young woman. 3) Hudson is a grad student from Yale in Monterey to research John Steinbeck and Ed Rickets and he brings with him a manuscript that might be a lost Steinbeck work.
While the Ben/Caddie story is quick to start, it takes a long time, way too long, to bring HUdson into the picture and an even longer time for Ben and Hudson to figure out they might be more than friends. Why does it take so long, well there’s this subplot of the the Steinbeck novel, of which we are given copious passages. This is the part of the book that I started to skim. I’m sorry, but if I’d wanted to read Steinbeck, then I would’ve picked up Steinbeck. I didn’t need to read fake Steinbeck tossed in with this story. And in the long run, and here comes a spoiler if you want to skip to the next paragraph, we never know if the manuscript is Steinbeck’s or not. Yes, it makes sense why we don’t, but after wading through the passages it would’ve been nice to know the outcome at least within the universe of the book.
As I mentioned though, there were passages that kept me moving through the book. Some of the scenes between Caddie and Ben are quite good as they discover how to be father and daughter, roles neither had been good at earlier in their relationship. Ben discovering his closeted feelings also made for wonderful reading. The ultimate resolution between father, daughter and newly found lover was good, so at least I’m not disappointed that I actually finished the book.
Next up: Blood Trail (a Blood Ties novel) by Tanya Huff