A story of struggle against tradition, pressure, and duty...
Oct 24, 2009
I'm trying to read a bit more out of my normal comfort zone when it comes to fiction, and as such I accepted the offer of a review copy of The Ghost Trap by K. Stephens. Centered around the life of a lobsterman in Maine struggling with a number of issues in his life, it definitely doesn't fall into my "action/adventure" category. :) But I'm glad I decided to read this debut novel, as the author did a very nice job on it. I definitely felt for the main character as he fought against all the external and internal pressures crushing him down.
Jamie Eugley comes from nine generations of lobstermen working the coast of Maine, harvesting lobsters to make a living. While out on his boat one day with his girlfriend Anja, she accidentally falls overboard and suffers brain damage from oxygen deprivation before she can be found and revived. Eugley feels a massive load of guilt for having that happen, and decides that he will care for her as she slowly works her way back to some form of a normal life. But her care is not cheap, she can't be left alone for long as she gets easily distracted, and Eugley wonders whether she ever will return to be the person he once loved. While this struggle with his commitment is raging in his life, he meets a young vivacious woman working a sailing ship catering to tourists. He wants desperately to fall in love with her and run off to the Florida Keys, but his duty to Anja keeps getting in the way. It's also not helping that a trap war has broken out in the area, and age-old rivalries and vendettas are about to erupt into actions that could cost Eugley his livelihood and possibly his life.
Keeping in mind I'm used to plots that are fast-paced and action-packed, I enjoyed this more than I though I might. Stephens can paint scenes and images with words very well, and getting into the characters wasn't a struggle in the least. I felt for Anja's pain as she tried to get back to what she once was, but was continually betrayed by her brain sending her off on various distractions. I could also empathize with Eugley, squeezed by tradition, duty, and financial pressure, tempted to just turn his back on it all and do something that *he* wanted for once. While I was enjoying her way with words, I *did* start to wonder about halfway through where the entire plot was going, as I seemed to be missing that point of conflict that was pushing the story forward. But it finally came together shortly after that, and things started working towards their conclusion.
Be warned... The Ghost Trap is *not* a "happy feel good" book. The characters are all flawed, and living happily ever after is not in the cards. Even so, Ghost Trap does get under your skin and pulls at you emotionally in ways not always common in today's literature.
This is a story about one lobsterman's struggles and joys with his work and his life. Jamie Eugely has lobstering in his blood. Living in Maine he was taught to lobster by both his father and his grandfather at a very young age. When he was a teen he thought to escape the small town Maine lifestyle, but ultimately came back to the family business. Now he struggles as new lobsterman set their pots too close to his, tangling the lines and ignore century … more
There is no doubt that K. Stephens is a talented writer - her words are crisp and clear, and the images that she paints of the life of a Maine lobsterman are evokative of the difficult life they live. Her description of the brain injured Anja, whom Jamie struggles to care for as his fiance, is distressingly accurate, and it is this day to day struggle with the horrors of a head injury that I found somewhat bleak. Jamie blames himself for the injury she sustained when in his … more
I didn't know anything about life is like in Maine. Through K. Stephen's words though, it sounds like a beautiful place to live. I did not know that Maine had so many islands. I have never fished for lobster, but it sounds like hard work. Lobster fishing is the main means of income for many families in Maine. Lobster fishing is also very hard work. It is a source of pride when lobster is plentiful, and it is a source of anxiety when it is not. Lobster fishing leads to tension and violence among … more
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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