Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Seahorse in the Thames by Susan Meissner

book cover

A Seahorse in the Thames
by Susan Meissner

Trade Paperback: 286 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
First Released: 2006

Author Website

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description:
Alexa Poole was to to spend her week off from work quietly recuperating from minor surgery. But when carpenter Stephen Moran falls into her life--or rather off of her roof--the unexpected happens. His sweet, gentle disposition proves more than she can resist and now she’s falling for him.

And then the news comes that Alexa's older sister, Rebecca, has vanished from the Falkman Residential Center where she has lived for the past 17 years, since an auto accident left her mentally compromised. Alexa, fearing the worst, calls her twin sister in England, and Priscilla agrees to come home despite a strained separation from her family--not to find Rebecca but to deliver some startling news.

As Alexa begins the search for Rebecca, disturbing questions surface. Why did the car that Rebecca was riding in swerve off the road killing her college friend, Leanne McNeil? And what about the mysterious check for $50,000 found in Rebecca’s room signed by her friend’s father, Gavin McNeil?

And can Alexa, in love for the first time, embrace the news about Stephen's future with courage?

When I finished A Seahorse in the Thames, I felt like I'd just awoken from a nice dream that I will remember fondly. It's a novel about finding beauty in an unexpected place. It has a romance and a mystery, but mostly it's a thoughtful book about finding healing after tragedy.

Alexa spent a lot of time in her thoughts, thinking things over. There were a lot of flashbacks at the beginning (including both a summary and a detailed version of what had just happened--I wish Susan Meissner had simply begun with the accident). However, the flashbacks decreased and the pacing picked up after the first few chapters.

The characters were complex, realistic, and people I could care about. The romance was sweet and dealt with the question "is loving someone worth it if they might die within a year?" It also explored the family dynamics created when a child died shortly after birth and another had brain damage after a car accident. There was a lot of pain to heal.

God was mentioned, but the Christian elements were subtle. The novel wasn't at all preachy. I think both Christians and non-Christians would enjoy the book.

The novel was written in present tense ("I see" vs "I saw") and occasionally the wording "sounded" a bit awkward to me. There was no sex. There was a minor amount of "he cussed" style of bad language. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it as good, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Stephen's wounded body lies just inches from me. His eyes are closed, but I cannot tell if he is awake or sleeping. Luminescent red numbers on a tiny black screen blink at me, silently registering every beat of his heart; the Demerol the emergency room nurse gave him has slowed it some, but the drug seems to have taken the edge off his pain. A broken arm and ankle are thankfully the worst of the injuries Stephen sustained when he fell off my roof. Bandages here and there cover the places where his skin tore away from his body, but he will need surgery to repair the broken bones. I look at him lying there, an injured man I barely know, and all I can think is, So this is what it's like to fall in love.

I must be crazy.

I have known Stephen for only four days.

And knowing someone for four days doesn't mean you really know that person.

I don't know what it means. I just know I cannot pull myself away from his hospital bed, even though he is surely no longer in any danger. The fall did not kill him. I am grateful for the Indian hawthorn bushes outside my kitchen window that broke his fall. The branches poked him, puncturing skin all over his arms, face, and legs, but they held him up from the unforgiving ground. I cannot bear to think what would have happened if he had fallen off the east side of my roof to the concrete driveway below it.

My next-door neighbor, Serafina, saw Stephen fall. It was just after eleven this morning, a little more than an hour ago. She came running to my front door, pounding on the screen and yelling in her melodic Spanish accent, "Alexa! That repairman has fallen from your roof!"


Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I'm usually not crazy about present tense, but this looks good. Thanks for the review.

Genre Reviewer said...

Alyssa Kirk,

I most definitely prefer novels written in past tense, yet somehow I keep ending up with novels written in present tense in my "to read" pile. ;) I do think this novel is worth reading, though, and I'm glad you found the review helpful.