Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye

Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye is steeped in rough seas, relationships, and a break in the weather.  From water imagery to isolated wilderness, Geye takes readers on a descriptive and detailed journey of Noah and Olaf Torr’s strained father-son relationship and the past that comes between them.  Set in the northern regions of Minnesota near Lake Superior, Noah must confront his father when time is running out.  While there is doubt about whether his father is truly ill and dying, Noah drops everything in Boston, including his wife Natalie and their fertility issues, to come to his father’s aid.

“He took off his jeans and shirt, his socks and drawers, and stood naked at the end of the dock.  Instantly the sweat that only a few minutes earlier had been dripping from him dried — seemed almost to encase him — as the wind curled around him.  . . .  From the instant he went under he could feel the water seizing him.  Although he’d been anticipating something like it, he could never have expected the grip of the water.  If he hadn’t kicked and pulled for the surface the instant he was submerged he might have ended up sunk.”  (page 134)

Coming back to town brings back all the feelings of abandonment he felt as a child when his father worked on the Great Lakes with the shipping companies.  Readers will be absorbed in the descriptive detail, leaving their living rooms and subway cars and entering the wooded forest near Olaf’s cabin.  The wintry wind will whip through their collars, forcing them to wrap scarves around their necks and feeling the ice freeze on their skin as Noah takes a bath in the lake.

For a first novel, Safe From the Sea has very few flaws with only the relationship between Noah and Natalie feeling a bit confused, changing from a semi-adversarial relationship to a loving one once she too arrives in Minnesota.  Complex relationships abound in this novel and mirror the churning lake waters when storms approach, but calmer waters prevail as the family comes to terms with reality and the love they share.

As deep as the 800 feet of Lake Superior that nearly took Olaf’s life when Noah was a boy, Safe From the Sea will pull readers under and churn them in the undercurrent of Noah’s feelings for his father as he learns to forgive the man scarred by the sinking of the ship Ragnarok, the loss of his colleagues, and the inescapable truth that he was powerless against the elements.  Geye creates strong settings, tense relationships between Olaf, his son, and his daughter, and a story that is utterly absorbing from the first page.

***Thanks to Unbridled Books for sending me a copy for review.  Though I should have finished this book ages ago, it was easy to pick the book back up and become absorbed in the story after dealing with the death of my grandfather.***

About the Author:

Peter Geye received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PHD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and continues to live there with his wife and three children.

If you’d like to win an ARC of Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye, please enter the international giveaway.

1.  Leave a comment about why you would like to read this novel.

2.  Name an Unbridled Book title you’ve read and enjoyed.

3.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook, or spread the word about the giveaway.

Deadline is Nov. 30, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST.

This is my 55th book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.


  1. Always looking for a good book to read…great review. thanks.

  2. Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books says

    I’ve wanted to read SAFE FROM THE SEA after reading Beth Fish’s review of it – your review adds to that!

    I’ve read and enjoyed IN HOVERING FLIGHT (Joyce Hinnefeld), 31 HOURS (Masha Hamilton) and LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL (Emily St. John Mandel) among other Unbridled books 🙂
    Dawn – She Is Too Fond of Books´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking- Dewey Snack Mix!

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book as much as I did. I thought it was brilliant.
    Teddy´s last blog post ..Guest Post- Shelley Munro- Author of The Spurned Viscountess

  4. I’ve heard so many good things about this book! Glad to see you liked it; I know you initially were reading it at the wrong time for you. No need to enter me, as I have a copy already, but my favorite Unbridled Books titles are The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa and The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego.
    Anna´s last blog post ..Mailbox Monday — November 15

  5. Would love to read the father-son story. And since it’s set in Minnesota (I’ve been there) and there’s a character named Olaf (I’m Norwegian), I can’t resist!

    JHS´s last blog post ..Book Review- Wishin’ and Hopin’

  6. I also think the father-son relationship here would be interesting.
    Please enter me, thanks.

  7. Susan Helene Gottfried says

    No need to enter me, doll. I’m dropping in to let you know I’ve got this posted at Win a Book. Thanks for the e-mail!
    Susan Helene Gottfried´s last blog post ..Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye

  8. Great review, it does sound like a good read.
    bookworm´s last blog post ..TGIF- Enjoy your weekend

  9. Beautifully written review, Serena. This book sounds utterly intriguing.
    Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting´s last blog post ..Book news- reviews- and musings 13 Nov 2010

  10. Interesting review. Father-Son relationships fascinates me.
    Nana Fredua-Agyeman´s last blog post ..The Golden Baobab Prize Announced

  11. 31 hours was an enthralling read!
    Mystica´s last blog post ..Review – Anita Shreves TESTIMONY

  12. I would like to be counted in for this giveaway. Thank you for this review.
    Mystica´s last blog post ..Review – Anita Shreves TESTIMONY

  13. I also loved this book, Serena…great review!
    Wendy´s last blog post ..Safe From the Sea – GIVEAWAY


  1. West Of Mars — Win A Book! » Blog Archive » Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye says:

    […] Over at Savvy Verse and Wit, Serena’s joined the movement for Peter Geye’s Safe From the…. One ARC copy is up for grabs in an international give. […]