Good Harbor

By Anita Diamant

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
clare craven
Ok, so it's not like her first book, "The Red Tent" ~~ but I didn't care as Diamant writes with her usual care and precision in telling a story. And I really enjoyed this book. I am not middle-aged yet, but I have always enjoyed reading a book that talks about friendship between two women. Having good friends of my own ~~ I really enjoy reading the friendship between Joyce and Kathleen. Joyce struggles with a marriage that seems to be heading for the rocks, a troubled relationship with her daughter and Kathleen struggles with her memories and guilt as she battles breast cancer. And when those two met ~~ they help each other heal. It's a wonderful journey through the pages watching how each of the woman grows into a delightful and more confident woman. It proves the old Biblical adage true ~~ one cannot walk through life alone.
I really enjoyed the different pace in the scenery. I love to take long walks and though I don't live near the ocean, whenever my girlfriends and I get together, sometimes our best conversations in life happens on a walk. There is something uplifting about walking with close friends ... and something totally relaxing. You can't hide confidents when you're relaxed. And I admire how Joyce and Kathleen would just call each other up and say, "Let's go for a walk." And in those walks, they confide into each other that they wouldn't confide to their husbands. Just like women everywhere.
If you like to read books about friendship and loyalty ~~ this is a good read. Diamant won't disappoint you with her writing. And you'll be lulled by the soft voices of women talking by the sea.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The lives of two women touch in Good Harbor as they undergo transitions. Kathleen Levine, a children's librarian, at 59 has breast cancer and is coping with an empty nest, plus regrets over past mistakes. At 42, Joyce Tabachnik is a writer whose marriage is drifting towards the shoals. She buys a house in Good Harbo with the proceeds from a book she's embarrassed to say she wrote. Wanting to write real literature, she finds herself writing nothing while rehabbing the new house and hearing little from her husband in the city.
The two women meet for long walks on the beach and discussions of life. Slowly they peel away the layers to a deep friendship that helps them through the rocks in their current life's passages.
Many women will relate to their issues and seeking for meaning and closeness. Highly recommended.
To go along with this, one can read A Gift from the Sea and Joan Anderson's A Year by the Sea.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
allen marino
A member of my book group described this as a good book to read on an airplane, because if the plane goes down, one thing you won't regret is that you don't know how the book ends.
Everyone in the group found this book disappointing. Many found it boring.
The things that came up in the book--lack of communication in a marriage, death of a child, breast cancer, extramarital affairs--do happen to women. However, their concatenation in the book's two main characters makes me wonder if this book was conceived as a careful marketing strategy: identify a list of key "women's issues." and string them together in such a way that a broad spectrum of women can find something to connect with.
I was also struck by the quotidian nature of the writing. It seems very lightweight. I don't think the manuscript would have been published if it hadn't come from the author of "The Red Tent."
Speaking of which--I read "The Red Tent, " but was not blown away by it. I was intrigued by the alternative view of the biblical story of Dinah, but I found the book somewhat tedious in its endless descriptions of bleeding and birthing. I was not expecting "Good Harbor" to be great literature. However, I was hoping for better than mediocrity.
The Saturday Evening Girls Club: A Novel :: This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare :: I Know I Am, But What Are You? :: The Uncensored Story of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour :: The Dirty Girls Social Club: A Novel
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
laura zbinden
I read this as an unabridged audiobook. Not having read "The Red Tent" I had nothing to compare "Good Harbor" to (for good or bad). Overall I all enjoyed listening to this in the morning but I wasn't nearly as emotional as I'd expected it to be which is good, I guess, because I expected it to ruin my makeup. On the downside, this is a book I won't remember come next week . . .

It was a nice, gentle tale about the distance that can develop between couples that often goes unnoticed but it was also a book about the power of friendship between women and the special bond and sharing that occurs when two friend's just "click".

Both women came across as very realistic but somehow I always remained at a distance from them both. Joyce's attitude towards her "romance" novel (which paid for her summer home ~ I'd love to know who her agent was as new romance novelists are typically paid a slaves wage!) rubbed me the wrong way on more than one occasion though. Her troubles with her bratty daughter were very realistically portrayed and her loneliness well done but in the end I still sympathized much more with Kathleen's character (though, in the end, she nearly lost me as well).

This isn't a book I'd read again but I am interested in picking up "The Red Tent" after reading many of the reviews here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
As a huge fan of The Red Tent, Diamant's previous work, I was eager to read Good Harbor. What I found was a novel as concentrated in focus as The Red Tent is epic in scale yet that was written with as much care and creativity. Good Harbor is a warm, thoughtful exploration of the lives and friendship between two seemingly disparate women.
The name of the book comes from a location in the coastal New England town where the characters reside. Kathleen, a life-long resident and children's librarian recently diagnosed with breast cancer, which killed her beloved sister, meets Joyce, a younger woman living out her dream - sort of - of a second home near the coast in the same town. The two strike up a friendship as Kathleen deals with her recovery from her illness and past tragedies and Joyce tries to find the self that she feels has been lost.
There is genuine caring and empathy between the women, and the instant bond that is formed seems completely realistic and understandable. And while events do not take place on a grand scale, the women change, grow and make mistakes throughout the course of the novel, emerging at the end the same yet different. It's a marvelous story, very well-written, detailed, interesting and enjoyable, sustained by the warmth and strength of the friendship.
While Good Harbor is incredibly different from The Red Tent, that is not a handicap in anyway, just a testament to Diamant's strength as a writer. And despite the shift in scale - a much smaller span of time, locale, etc. - many of the same themes emerge. It's not a sweeping epic in traditional terms, but in a way, it focuses on a similarly dramatic time in the lives of the central characters and is treated with the depth and breadth necessary. Diamant has again lovingly created a tale of dynamic women and a compelling, worth-while novel.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sharon brady
Following what I understand is well deserved praise for Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent," I was glad to receive "Good Harbor" as a gift. Sadly, it proved mediocre at best, and at times worse even than that. Nothing terrible here, but nothing memorable either.
It begins badly. The prose in the first third of the novel hobbles along, as with a cane. Cliches, for instance, on page 60 ("Kathleen played with her necklace . . . absently"--and "somehow the dates had slipped her mind") and on 61, "She was smiling, but it was clear she meant business") are the stuff of a freshman comp student, not a novelist of Diamant's stature. The dialogue also suffers early on. In this scene when Alice (not a central character, so nothing's given away here--not that there's much TO give away in this book) announces to her friends that she's leaving her husband, one of the central characters, Joyce, responds: "Alice, I wish you all the best." It's as if the beginning of the novel does not get the polishing time it deserves or even a good rewrite in parts. The prose drops its cane, finally, but never loses its limp.
The story, set in picturesque (as the novel so often reminds us) Gloucester, Massachusetts, follows the friendship of Joyce, a freelance writer and romance novelist, and Kathleen, an elementary school librarian at what the novel wants us to believe is a crucial time in both of their lives. But somehow it never quite feels this way. Kathleen is undergoing cancer treatment(over the summer, conveniently), true, but it never seems serious and Joyce, well, is suffering vaguely from her marriage and her daughter. The main problem with this friendship and ultimately the book itself is that neither of these women, despite some of the past experiences they share with one another, seems like she is truly facing loss, or change, or challenge. Though cancer is always serious--and this is breast cancer besides--Kathleen's story is told in a way that arouses little emotional involvement on the reader's part. To worsen matters, Kathleen as the better drawn character makes the poorly drawn Joyce, whose problems--unlike Kathleen's--are never fully articulated, seem whiny and unsubstantial.
The friendship arises artificially, with the two women tugging over the last cookie at a refreshment table after shul one night. The dialogue pushes the reader to accept their friendship in this forced line from Kathleen's husband, Buddy: "You mean you don't know each other's names? . .. You've been over there gabbing like you were long lost cousins." It never, in fact, becomes altogether clear what makes Joyce and Kathleen such good friends, and since this friendship is the central plot, this is certainly a problem in the book. (The first moment of closeness between the two, for example, seems to occur when Joyce says "It sucks" about Kathleen's cancer.)
Basically, these women have money (some), time (a lot), husbands (two dimensional) and children (again, Kathleen's are drawn better, with Joyce's daughter a bratty, spoiled teenage girl stereotype) but no real moment of crisis, either one. The best story in the novel is a subplot of an event that occurred 25 years before the novel begins, that is spooned out bit by bit, and carries more power than anything that happens in the novel's real time.
This book serves as a palate cleanser between two really strong books perhaps, something easy and relaxing and quick. In short, it's okay, but not good.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
el hunger readeuse
I came fresh to this novelist. That is to say, I read Good Harbor without having read Diamant's first historical fiction book, The Red Tent.
Though Good Harbor also focuses on women, it is a contemporary novel set in the seaside town of Gloucester in Massachusetts. The story involves two characters. Kathleen, a librarian in her late fifties, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and Joyce, a fortyish romance novelist who wants to break out of that genre and write mainstream fiction. Both women are in their words, "lapsed Jews," who ironically meet at synagogue. Along Good Harbor's beach their friendship takes off as they walk off the stress and woes of their lives. Joyce's husband is career- absorbed and her teenage daughter now sports her "'tude" whenever possible. Also, in her just-bought home, there is a statue of the virgin, Mary, in her garden and as a Jew, she is not sure what to do to get "rid of Her Holiness." Kathleen, on the other hand, has a concerned husband, who at every turn to take Kathleen to her radiation treatments. Still, Kathleen ruminates about her deceased sister and her little boy, Danny, who, like a dead dog in the room, everyone steps around but no one ever talks about.
Though the book does deal with women's issues, I wondered what to make of Joyce and if felt like Diamant didn't wonder what to do with her too. I also took issue with some of the lines delivered about the mother of Jesus - some of them were just a little too cavalier for my taste. At times Diamant was disrespectful of Christianity - something that would not be tolerated were the plot lines reversed.
If you're looking for a fast read, you'll be pleased - there's lots of "white space" between the lines and the front cover of the book is lovely to look at, but I came away from the book not nearly as satisfied as I thought conversations between two women could be.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
reid carron
You have to realize going into this book that it is not going to be of the caliber of "The Red Tent." For beginners, this is a modern novel and for better or worse, is going to be categorized as a woman's book. That's okay with me; I love women's literature. The problem is that it attempts to be deeper than it is. The writing is adequate, but formula. However, it does do all the right things in terms of plot construction and still manages to succeed in the relationship between the two main characters, Kathleen and Joyce, whom I thought were believable and authentic. The subject of two friends leading real lives with real problems, being able to confide in each other more than their husbands is one that I think resonates with a lot of people. I did find myself reading on, sort of like Kathleen reading Joyce's novel, because I cared and wanted to find out what happened to them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michelle taylor
I read "Red Tent" and loved it, so I had to read "Good Harbor." The author did not let me down--the characters constantly surprised me in this book. I loved the Jewish/Catholic interaction at Joyce's house, and how Kathleen overcame her struggles. This book is definitely a book for women--the male characters are not very strong (with the exception of Buddy, you hardly see them).
I felt there were two different dynamics going on--at Joyce's house, you have the age-old mother-daughter conflict, and then at Kathleen's house, you have the attachment between mother & son, but with "duelling" sons. I felt that I could see how the characters changed over the course of the summer, and how they grew into all of their relationships, making their own lives better.
I would recommend this book to anyone--but definitely read "The Red Tent" as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jamila gomez
While I did not like the Red Tent due to a personal conflict with subject matter, I adored Diamant's writing style. I was excited to give her another try. This was a complete opposite of Red Tent, in that I adored the story, but found the writing very mediocre. It is not a bad read, in fact I enjoyed this story so much I read it quickly and intensely, but it is very light in lyrics and dialogue, much un-like her previous novel.
Joyce and Kathleen meet by chance and hit it off immeadiately. You as a reader are so excited for their friendship and honesty in such matters as marriage, breast cancer, raising children and religion. While the dialogue wasn't earth shattering, certain lines were poignant and honest and as a women reader I so appreciated that.
I recommend this book to anyone who would like a quick but good story, and if you know anyone or you yourself are dealing with breast cancer this book sheds a great light on the sympathy card that society often plays. I gave it four stars just because it was a fun book, easy to follow, and nice story line. If you enjoy women's lit much like Elizabeth Berg this is perfect for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenetta penner
This novel is based in Cape Ann beach, Glouchester.
I had a great time reading this book, the first for me by Anita Diamante.
I love the way it is written. With touches of simplicity and gentleness; Good Harbor is all about a deep friendship between two women. Kathleen fifty nine is a librarian is troubled by Breast cancer; and Joyce a forty two year old writer who becomes her buddy and sounding board.....seeing her through her this desperate part of her life.
As Kathleen's radiation treatments start, the two women walk the beach each day. During these therapeutic walks, many secrets are exchanged and they discuss everything under the sun; health issues, their Jewish religion, food, relationships, their fears about their children....their husbands. All the big things they hold dear in their hearts to the little things of life, Joyce and Kathleen keep their talks centred on their lives.
A special book about two special families, this would make a wonderful gift for a sister or a special buddy.
reviewed by Heather Marshall
December 14th 2002
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
bonnie rauwerdink
I'm another Diamant fan who grabbed this book after being moved for months by the absolutely fabulous "Red Tent" which was everything a great book can be -- perspective-altering, horizon-widening, and maybe even life-changing.
Alas, what I found was this lightweight poorly written piece of fluff. Anita, Anita, when did you write this? Was it part of a college course in which you had to fullfill a "best-seller checklist"? Religion -- check; sex -- check; marital infidelity -- check; competely extraneous drug bust -- check; dead child -- check; and the most important New York Times Best Seller Checklist Item of all -- **breast cancer** (or in this case, pre-cancer) -- check, check, check.
It happens that I know a lot about breast treatments and those parts rang true, but hey, girls, we're talking about DCIS here -- generally a non-lethal, non-life threatening, non-fatal disease, and it would have been a worthy public service for Ms. Diamant to emphasize THOSE facts rather than writing about Kathleen's "disease" with such sweaty-palmed drama. The walks on Good Harbor were likewise well-described (an area I myself have walked many times) but really, again, we didn't need all the drama. The plot sidelines ended up just plain silly (what was WITH the drug bust, the broken collarbone, and the weirdo unconsumated sex (which I was sure was going to turn into a "Crying Game" type scene but instead went absolutely nowhere with zero explanation)).
I love books about the fine relationships that women can have with one another, and I love books about the wisdom that we accumulate over the years. But reading about these self-involved, hand-wringing, breast-beating, completely self-obsessed women was a total waste of my time. I just wanted to grab Kathleen and show her REAL cancer suffering and tell her for god's sakes go do some grief therapy so you can help your poor remaining children and (ridiculously devoted) husband, and I wanted to grab the paintbrushes out of Joanne's hands and shout, "Who cares about your perfect ceiling?? Go work with the ESL kids in Gloucester who are struggling with the MCAS, or go help in a women's shelter, or do SOMETHING more than obsess about your poor innocent teenage daughter, your Mary-on-the-half-shell, and your paint chips."
Oh, I so hope Ms. Diamant's next effort amounts to more than this hill of beans.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mark ruddy
I actually give this book 3.5 stars. It's a very good story and a treat to read with real as life characters living out their life's situations. Joyce is entering a lonely stage in her life because her daughter is growing older and more distant as well as a lack of connection to her husband. Kathleen deals with her treatments for breast cancer and the depressing memory of the death of her son 25 years ago.
These two women meet in a coastal, New England town and take daily walks on the beach as their friendship grows. They share pieces of their lives with each other.
This is a very mellow story and a rather quick book to read. The writing flows and the landscape descriptions can actually "take" the reader to the beach. Very good book that I definitely recommend any middle aged woman to read, but would be enjoyed by anyone.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
margaret mair
The frame for this book is a new unfolding friendship of two women, Kathleen Levine, a librarian and Joyce Tabachnik, a writer. Both women are married and have families.

The story starts slowly with descriptions but once that is over the narrative flows easily with a dialog that feels authentic. The structure feels a bit mechanical but becomes more integrated with the plot as the story unfolds. The chacters evolve accordingly to the textbook but they never really take off.

There are no challenging thoughts to be found in this book and on the whole it feels a little flat but cozy. It may be a relaxing reading for a woman on a day when she does not wish to think about anything in particular.

To choose a different setting and time from her previous book will not spare Diamant any comparisons. This is not a bad book but it definitely exhibits a beginner's touch. The attempt to focus on female issues is too obvious and the book leaves me in a friendly mood but without any engagement in the lives of these two women.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tracey dorst
I loved "The Boston Girl" by this author. This one is ok, but lacks the compelling characters that made Boston Girl such a pleasure. In fact, the two primary characters here, Katherine and Joyce, seemed rather one-dimensional, in spite of their perceived difficulties. Everything ended in a too-tidy, chick-lit kind of ending, taking away any lasting life lessons that the author may have intended. Pleasant but forgettable.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
When you are the renowned author of "The Red Tent," how do you top yourself? Unfortunately, "Good Harbor" was not able to do that. However, "Good Harbor" captured my attention and I was taken in about the story of a friendship.
Kathleen, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, meets Joyce, a romance writer. The friendship flourishes immediately as they enjoy walks together on Good Harbor. Through the walks, each woman feels safe in confiding with the other. There are many issues that "Good Harbor" addresses: cancer, religion, parenting, death, infidelity, and relationships.
Diamant is a master at setting the scene. She describes the beauty of Good Harbor and Kathleen's garden so precisely that the reader is able to create a mental image. This was the strongest feature in the novel.
"Good Harbor" is a novel with its own merit, however many will find it difficult not to compare it with "The Red Tent." I encourage readers to try "Good Harbor" and see a different side of Anita Diamant. I eagerly anticipate Diamant's future work.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
maggie loftis
Why shouldn't we compare it to "Red Tent?" Many people bought this book because they loved Diamante's first novel and many people felt let down. After reading both, I thought it seemed as if she spent five years writing "Red Tent" and three months on "Good Harbor." I found the female friendship trite, and the beginning of their relationhip reminded me of a cliche romance novel. I would really need to search hard to find something redeeming about this book. The descriptions of the places could be the strong point, but a book needs more. I wish "Kathleen" would have done something about the children's library. I wish either of these women would have done something constructive. I didn't care much about these characters, although I thought I would by reading the description of the book. This book was about as satisfying as a fat-free brownie.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
It would be impossible to expect something like The Red Tent in a second novel. This book is different from her first effort in that she tries to focus on the American Religious Experience. She hits upon a variety of issues and topics that follow contemporary society - the death of a child and the unwillingness to talk about it, the onset of cancer and the unwillingness to talk about it, the teen years and the generation gap, questions about faith and marriage. In a nutshell, it is a coverage of many complex issues, and Ms. Diamont does well to hit on all of them. The characters are great and she develops them well.
I would recommend this book quite highly even though it may hit a nerve or two for some people. It is a timely novel with timely contemporary issues.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
lucas pinyan
Although I was never able to get into Diamant's "The Red Tent" (I tried twice), I knew many people loved it, so I was willing to give her another try with her new book.
I finished "Good Harbor", but do not know why.
The topic of the book, women's friendship and cancer, has been done so many times, and so much better by other authors. This book was just plain ordinary. Forgettable. My mind cannot even hold onto the title and I keep calling it "Safe Harbor"!
This was a most unsatisfying read: it was not particularly well-written, there were no great insights, the characters were not well- developed, and there was a good amount of contrivance, a device that really annoys me. It is a very commercial book, in my opinion. To wit: Diamant combined Judaism, Catholocism, miracles, cancer, love affairs, drug running, and the death of a child. Some of these topics were just thrown in, as if they were afterthoughts rather than woven into the body of the story.
The best parts were the descriptions of the beach area and how the beach comforts one's soul. This rang very true to me.
My recommendation: buy JoAnn Mapson's "Bad Girl Creek" if you want to read a very good depiction of women's friendships, how women help each other through the bad times, and how they celebrate the good times.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
e ashman
This is yet another excellent novel by the author of The Red Tent. Anita Diamant paints for the reader a three-dimensional portrait of two women, together as friends, yet fighting their own personal battles.
Kathleen is a long time resident of Gloucester, and beginning a fight with breast cancer. Joyce is a new arrival to the town, and is fighting a battle with her career as a writer, and doubts about her marriage. A chance meeting one Friday evening at synagogue creates a friendship that is closer than any friendship either woman has experienced.
Separately and together these two friends face their own demons and come out stronger. Long walks together along Good Harbor beach bring them closer and help them come to terms with changes in their lives.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gisoo rabi
I just don't understand people finding this book flat or boring! It delicately probes the development of a friendship between two women who are able to share painful secrets gradually, and bonding over time during their long walks. It's about maturing marriages, lost and found children, career paths, deepening friendships, faith and gratitude, all painted with a light, feathery brush. I would have wished to learn more of Kathleen's catholic childhood and influences on her life, but I guess Ms. Diamant doesn't know too much about that--and she never really fleshes out Pat's (Kathleen's sister) vocation as a nun--hence 4 stars only.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
susan o donnell
Anita Diamont has written a relationship book that is both well written and subtle in describing a burgeoning friendship between two mature women. This book tells us without actually hammering at us that it takes work to establish and nourish a friendship. The two women are near opposites with only their religion in common, but over the course of a summer in Glouchester, MA, they cement what will, no doubt, be a life-long friendship.
The author's writing style is wonderfully simple and the book is fast paced. It is a book that you will take with you wherever you go hoping to catch a few minutes to read another page or chapter.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
michael j
After reading The Red Tent (several years ago) I quickly added it to my all-time favorites list. To be honest, I've been hesitatant to read Good Harbor ever since. I didn't want to be disappointed and the magnitude of The Red Tent certainly set the bar high.

This was a good (not great) read. I found the ending to be somewhat abrupt and felt quite a few were unfinished. I liked the characters but thought that their friendship was almost too quickly developed. I don't know too many people that become friends as quickly as Joyce and Katherine became friends.

I enjoyed the depth of the characters but wish that the book was 100 pages longer. That being said, if Anita Damant happens to write something else I'll be sure to read it more quickly. I've had this book for years and have started it twice without getting more than 20 pages into it. In the end I'm glad I finished it and while it won't be added to my favorites list, I will pass it along to my friends to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marianne morgan
After having read The Red Tent I was intersted in reading Good Harbor. From reading the preview I knew that this was going to be nothing like The Red Tent.
Kathleen and Joyce are two woman who are tough points in there life and need someone to talk to and slowly tell each other what has been going on with them for there life.
Now while the writing style was nothing like The Red Tent, it was still a very enjoyable book with a good storyline. It takes a tone in a modern world with good characters.
I am looking forward to more from this talented author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
adam banas
Listening to this book was enjoyable, as I could hear two distinct voices sharing their stories and crises. Both of the main characters, Kathleen and Joyce, faced difficult times throughout the novel, yet manage to find an inner core of strength to move on. Each woman also seemed very real, with her foibles and insecurities. I also liked the way religion was woven through the story yet didn't overpower it in any way. Though I didn't always agree with some of the choices the characters made, that angst offered a good connection to their lives.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nigel watts
I was hooked by this book almost immediately. As I continued reading, however, I began wondering why I should care about these women. They are likable characters, so I kept reading, but this was not a story that kept me glued to the pages or had me worrying and wondering what would happen next. I guess it's not supposed to be that kind of story, but I have nothing to take away from it, either. An interesting, light read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kylara lore
Given all of the, from what I understand, deserved hype over "The Red Tent", I was delighted to receive "Good Harbor" as a gift. Unfortunately, however, I found it only an acceptable novel. Nothing terribly bad here, but nothing striking either.
The first problem is a rough beginning. The prose hobbles through the first 70 pages or so, as if with a cane. The cliches on pages 60 and 61 when Kathleen plays with her necklace chain "absently" (of course), and the Rabbi smiles in a way that showed "she meant business" are the stuff of a freshman comp student, not a novelist of Diamant's stature. Since the dialogue in this section of the book is also weak (on page 54, Joyce says, "Alice, I wish you all the best . . . It takes a lot of courage to do what you're doing,"), it seems that this section of the book just didn't get the polishing time it deserved. And though the prose drops its cane halfway through, improving somewhat, it never quite loses its limp altogether.
The story, set in Gloucester, Mass. is about a friendship and some of the life events shared in it by its two participants, Joyce, a freelance writer and romance novelist, and Kathleen, an elementary school librarian, both of whom the novel keeps trying to tell us, are at crucial life stages. Kathleen is undergoing breast cancer treatment (over the summer, conveniently) and Joyce, well, is struggling vaguely with her marriage and her daughter. Kathleen is obviously the stronger character, and something that she reveals from 25 years ago in bits throughout the novel is the most real problem in the book, much more real than anything that happens in the book's real time. The well drawn Kathleen only shows up more the poorly drawn Joyce because it's just not clear what Joyce's problems are in the way that we are clear about what Kathleen's problems are. It is a lopsided friendship on the page, in that way.
Basically, while this is a mildly interesting book, a palate cleanser between really good books, perhaps, it never truly succeeds because neither character seems really at risk for losing anything. Both have money (some), time (a lot), husbands (two-dimensional) and children (again, Kathleen's are more realistically drawn than Joyce's daughter, who is just a stereotype of the pouty, spoiled teenaged girl). But there is no crisis point here, no big decision to make, no transformation for either character to experience. And other than their beach walks, there doesn't seem to be much that binds them; it's not clear why they are such good friends, after all. Right after they meet, a bit of dialogue sets out to push the idea of this friendship along ("You mean you don't know each other's names? . . . You've been over there gabbing like you were long-lost cousins."). This is a feeling that remains; these two are friends because the narrator says they are, and not because the friendship arises in a natural way.
There are some nice moments in "Good Harbor" and one can't help but like Kathleen a lot, and feel for what she's going through with her cancer. But it's feeling at a distance, and not in a committed way that marks this okay, but not good, book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
chick leiby
It is difficult for me to review this book; Diamant's The Red Tent is one of my favorites. This one paled in comparison. I don't know if this is because it's a much inferior piece of writing, or if my expectations were higher because of the previous work, or if I've come to expect more from a novel. Whichever, I would only recommend this book as "light" reading to women only, and only those who are looking to be entertained, but not "wow"ed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristie helms
I purchased this book solely because I was so moved by Diamant's The Red Tent. Good Harbor did not disappoint and I found myself greedily devouring each page well into the wee hours on the am. High praise for any book that can keep my sleep deprieved self awake. For women in my age group (not tellin') the value of the company of women was never appreciated. Always on the go, trying to be superwomen, the luxury of cultivating these relationships was not an option. Only later did these friendships receive the importance that they deserved. Like a beacon in choppy seas, Diamant's good harbor reminds us the safe harbor one finds in the arms of a friend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristen moniz
Like other readers, I found Anita Diamant's more well known The Red Tent very hard to get through. Good Harbour was the opposite.
The two main characters are NORMAL women who each have their own issues to deal with, but who share a need for a woman friend, as many of us in our 40's do. They stumble upon each other at a chance meeting in the temple and immediately begin to run into each other; crossing paths and becoming more and more interested in each other. Like girls in their twenties, they find they want a friendship and begin to unveil their lives to each other, but only to a certain point. The author lets us in on a little of what is being held back but not all, which kept me interested and curious. Although their paths cross often, they each have different lives, and issues and are at different phases of their lives, but they share a love of the harbour, and of reading.
The author has woven in some outlandish sidelines that kept me chuckling; one had a sister who was a nun, the new rabbi in town is a 30ish female, a colorful local priest needs to exorcise a lawn ornament of the virgin Mary....these make this a funny and light read. While both women feel the chemistry of their sameness and interests, they shy away from what they consider their own Private sins; only to learn that they are just seeking what everyone else does, especially at this age and in this time in our society.
I cried on the train while finishing it. The ending was satisfying. I hope Ms. Diamant writes another fictional story soon. I'll pick it up in a heartbeat.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I came by this book as part of silent auction package that was billed as "Summer Reading for Moms." I had not read any of Diamant's other works. I agree with several other reviewers in that the setting was articulated very well so that the reader could imagine it in his/her mind's eye. And, I think she did a good job in developing Kathleen and Joyce's characters.

The downfall came with a poorly developed subplot involving Joyce and a very pat ending (to both the subplot and the novel)that did nothing to bring closure to the reading experience. I finished the book feeling like something was missing.

Having said that, it was an easy vacation read and I would recommend it for that purpose. The book was good enough that I'll add Diamant's The Red Tent to my list of should-read books
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jordan lee
This novel is so interesting from start to finish. Set in beautiful Gloucester, Ma., one of my favorite places on earth, this is the story of two women who become fast friends when each realizes that an ear and good advice is necessary in their lives. The stories of each woman is very well expanded so that thereader feels like she gets to know the characters. The ladies utilize the beach and its surrounding area as a place of tranquility and calm. Their almost-daily walks lead to a great understanding of other peoples troubles and how we are really never alone in our problems. A great read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daniel bassett
I too bought this because I had read the Red Tent twice (and would read it again) and several members of my book club had also read it and were really drawn into it. Good Harbor was a good read and one that I had some difficulity putting down. I finished it in a couple of days. Since I am around a bunch of girls the age of Joyce's daughter (12) I really appreciated that part of the book. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in the subject of death and dying. Kathleen's experience touched me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Good Harbor is a lovely story but definitely a different style for the author for those of us who read The Red Tent and might have expected the same here. Avoid being disappointed by knowing to expect a change with this story. It is well written to read nicely along. You get to know the characters well, not that you will necessarily like what they do, but that's what makes the story. This is worth your time to read and enjoy.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mik hamilton d c
I am not really sure what to say about this book. I liked it, but yet I when I finished it, I wasnt' really sure what kept me reading. Maybe because I liked the characters, or just liked the story of a good friendship between two women. But....if you're looking for a page turner, don't pick this up, if you are looking for a quiet read for a couple of hours, than this is the book for you!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steve ma
This is the first opportunity that I have had to read a book by Anita Diamant. I really enjoyed this book. I bought it because I am an Onoclogy nurse and thought I would like to read about breast cancer from the patient's perspective. I was able to get that, but I found a lovely friendship between Kathleen and Joyce. I would have liked to see the author expand her characters, however, and spend more time focusing on the interactions between the two women. Overall, it is a nice book to read and follow and shouldn't take long to get through.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I felt such a connection with this book that I read it twice--once tearing through it, amazed by the many (not all!!) parallels between the book and my life, and again more leisurely to see what I really thought of it as a book. OK, this may not have the literary heft of THE RED TENT, which I read after GOOD HARBOR--perhaps accounting for the divergence between my views and the disappointment of those who picked this up expecting another RED TENT. And there are places where the devices in the plot showed as just that. But despite that, I enjoyed the book, and find myself thinking about its themes weeks later. Diamant clearly understands how easy it is to walk through our comfortable but hectic suburban lives without really connecting with one another, the emptiness that comes with that, the yearning for community, and the power of friendship.
Thank you, Anita!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
maureen carter
This is quite a disappointment after "The Red Tent" which I absolutely loved, and continue to recommend to friends. "Good Harbor" is a medicore book at best, a flat story of a friendship between two women. The only redeeming quality is that it's set in Gloucester, and I enjoyed reading about that. If you're looking a so-so book about friendship and Gloucester, go ahead and read it, but if you expect a book in the same category as "The Red Tent", you'll be sorely disappointed! Never mind the same category, this book doesn't even belong on the same shelf!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As a breast cancer survivor and a woman who treasures her friendships with other women I loved this book. I can't believe some of the negetive reviews. I was not one who loved The Red Tent although I thought it was very well written. I loved Good Harbour and didn't want it to end. Please put this book on your list of must reads.....
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
michelle cusolito
The book starts out promisingly about a woman with cancer. But it deteriorates rapidly into a bunch of silly events between various women.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
teresaaaa e
An interesting story about two women who become fast friends after meeting in the temple of a small seaside town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The story tells of their close bond where they shared their personal lives and pains. Although, it began as a captivating story, I didn't understand the ending. It was not as good as the Red Tent, another novel written by the same author.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kim gerbrandt
I thought this was a well written book with nicely developed characters. I appreciated the back story on the people in the novel and their seeming realism. I think this is an excellent followup to The Red Tent... Diamant is also known for her non-fiction. With Good Harbor, I believe she has proven herself to be a well-rounded author, with a variety of talents. Enjoy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura maxwell
Anita Diamant took great care to create a warm and compassionate story between two very different women.
The storyline was so true to our lives today.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica peale
This book is not about the plot. It's about friendship, love, family, and what that all means. Incredible. I sent it to my mother, who also has gone through radiation therapy for breast cancer, and I can't wait to bond with her just a little more over this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
During this time of uncertainty in the world around us, I quickly and happily immersed my self in the life of "Good Harbor". I found myself easily drawn into the characters and the world around them. This novel addresses many important issues - friendship, love, parenthood, the environment and careers. As so many of us are realizing these days, there is much about our lives that is out of our control. However, we can control how we relate to the people and the environment closest to us. The story of "Good Harbor" illustrates and helps us experience the importance of accepting our lives and appreciating the world that is in our own backyard.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jacqueline gray
Kept my interest with every situation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
oh wow - I so enjoyed having this story read to me and to feel as though I was an eyewitness to the birth and nurturing of such a beautiful friendship and sisterly bonding. Makes me long for such a friend as these two women found in each other! A powerful story, very well written, wonderful style! Highly recommended.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
j r lewis
Having thoroughly enjoyed "The Red Tent", I was extremely disappointed with this book. I feel cheated - such a mediocre book shouldn't even have been published - the writing is poor, the story is shallow and the characters have little depth. After the first third of the book, I was ready to throw it in the trash but persevered on, skimming the last pages - I'd hoped it might redeem itself but it remained true to hits beginning, never getting one bit better. unfair of the publisher to pull us in, just because Ms. Diamant had previously written a decent book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
lisa nicholas
If it were not because of the well earned recognition the author got out of The Red Tent, this book would likely not have passed through any publishing agent, and I would not be here giving feedback. The characters are meaningless, nothing interesting happens, none of the subjects covered were touched with any depht. The author did a good job carefully portraying the setttings, especially the harbor, and the narrative is engaging; but when you finish you wonder what was supposed to be the point. This is probably among the bottom 10% of the books I have read, and I can recommend at least a hundred books before recomending reading this one.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jon earls
Was expecting a story with deep emotion. I found a standart, not exciting, superficial, predictable read. I did finish the book, because I was convinced somewhere there would be The line that made it all worth it, but it did not come.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
chrissy palmer
Following on the heels of her marvelous novel The Red Tent, Anita Diamant has disappointed any readers hoping to re-experience the breadth and magnitude of Tent. She has chosen to focus on two women with a shared past transgression and a marginal link of their Jewish faith. Pedantic and "preachy" this novel glosses over true-to-life female friendships in an unsatisfactory fashion. I was disappointed in this book and would not recommend it based on the authors previous works.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is a wonderful tale of friendship. This wasn't as good as Red Tent, but was still a book that really held my interest.
A great story for women.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
andrea patehviri
This book should never have been published. It is full of platitudes, and very poorly written. Is also boring. The women it portrays are bored, boring middle class women, with too much time on their hands. Kathleen is so self indulgent that she should be denied cancer treatment, and her so called friend, Joyce, is a selfish cow. And the are both boring. The conversations Anita Diamant portrays are boring. Come on girls, and this included you Anita - move on from this drivel.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I picked this up because I love Anita Diamant, but this book wasn't her best. There were too many unresolved parts of the plot, and one resolution that felt weak. The end was also a little too trite.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book made me long for the coast and a good friend to chat with! Serious subject matter (Katherine's cancer treatment)is discussed in a way that made it seem real to me. I must say when I began this book I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. The characters were real to me and seemed to be the sort of people I would like to get to know.
Overall I would recommend this to women over 30.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bob g
I loved this book! I have not yet read The Red Tent and had no preconceived notions of what Ms. Diamant's book would be like, but I loved it. The story of Kathleen and Joyce made me yearn for more time with my own best friend. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa bloom
I really liked this book. The characters were well developed. I felt like I knew them. I liked the relationship between these two women. I could smell the ocean and feel the sand on my feet from Anita's words. Anyone who has ever walked a beach and felt comfort will love this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
susan parry
Anita D writes well: interesting, real subject we can all relate to; good read! Can't wait to read another book by Anita D!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angie morgan
This book is just the book to read about the beautiful gift of friendship. It is wonderfully descriptive in the knowing of two women who become necessary in each other's life. They become good friends and show us the real meaning of friendship. They know when to talk and when to listen - and the end is just wonderful. Don't miss this read!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kristin bailey
I was surprised to find that I liked this book as much as I did.

The book struck me at first as choppily written and amateurish. But I liked it more and more as I went along, especially the spiritual aspects of the story.

Recommended as a light, yet thoughtful read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chuck wright
Interesting book to read about women's friendship. Quick read.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
tina herbst
I just couldn't get beyond the description of a statue of Mary as "creepy" I realize this is from a non religious jewish womans point of view, but vry disappointed as I have spent 40 yrs visited Goucester and the CApe Ann area, while up there I was excited to find this book in a local Gloucester shop. if you start off by insulting Christian devotion and tradition, then you will turn off a lot of people,, maybe the book gets better but if I cant like or relate I wont go further.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Beautiful story of female friendship Every woman needs that best friend to confide in.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nihar sawant
I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't too deep, easy to pick back up where I left off when interupted by my toddler. There were a couple surprises that I wasn't expecting in the story. All in all it was entertaining.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
linda olson
Many of my feelings regarding this book appear to be shared by other reviewers. I didn't feel any connection to the characters. I feel like Good Harbor MAY appeal to middle class, educated, appearance concerned women that dabble in coffee table religion talks... but for me, I just didn't dig it yo. I made it through the Good Harbor deflated experience for the sake of a reading group-- but by the end (or was it from the beginning?) I wanted to put a whole lotta hurt on these vapid women with surface problems. It seemed like the largest tragedy in their lives was that there was nothing miraculous going on to provide them with depth and relatability. The forced apex of drama at the end was uber lame and made me want to tear the book apart and use the paper to wipe material (far superior to this book) from my bum.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
brent legault
I enjoyed her first novel and was a little disappointed by Good Harbor. Never felt interested in the characters and no real desire to finish the book
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