Official Synopsis from the back of my copy of the book: The setting of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s most widely praised book is the seashore; the time, a brief vacation which had lifted her from the distractions of everyday existence into the sphere of meditation. As the sea tosses up its gifts—shells rare and perfect—so the mind, left to its ponderings, brings up its own treasures of the deep. And the shells become symbols here for the aspects of life she is contemplating.
Genre: Essay, Inspirational
Setting: A beach, early 1950s
My copy came from: I got a used copy from paperbackswap.com
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Review: Gift from the Sea is a book that makes you think. I really enjoyed it, and liked its theme of finding yourself and getting back to simplicity. I had never heard of Anne Morrow Lindbergh until we read The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin for my book club a few months ago. I really loved The Aviator’s Wife and had added Gift from the Sea to my TBR.
The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife to Charles Lindbergh, and she was an accomplished aviator and writer. Gift from the Sea is her meditation on life, and while it was first published in 1955, Gift from the Sea is applicable to today’s world, and today’s women (and men). The book is geared more towards women, but I do think that men would get something from this read should they pick it up.
The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone.
There isn’t really any plot to this book, it’s basically Anne’s thoughts as she takes a solitary vacation by the sea, as she collects seashells and ponders life. I wrote down so many quotes from this book, it is full of beautiful statements that make you think. Thoughts about how it is necessary for women (and also men) to be alone – to take some quiet time just for ourselves to re-balance our lives. As someone who desperately needs my alone time in order to face my daily life, I really connected with these thoughts.
Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.
Besides pondering solitude, Anne also ponders love and life. I love the quote below, as it really fits with today’s obsession with social media and appearances. And remember, this was written in the early 1950s! Before any social media existed.
I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.
How powerful is that quote! Let’s all shed our masks, shall we?
Anne Morrow Lindbergh really gives a lot of food for thought in Gift from the Sea. Some may find her style a bit preachy, or know-it-all, but I found it inspirational and just a different way to approach life instead of the go-go-go that is so prevalent in today’s society. To be honest, it made me want to shut my computer and cell phone off and go out in the woods and just be still. But, sadly, I don’t have time to do that, so I’ll settle for attempting to read Thoreau’s Walden instead.
This is what one thirsts for, I realize, after the smallness of the day, of work, of details, of intimacy—even of communication, one thirsts for the magnitude and universality of a night full of stars, pouring into one like a fresh tide.
Bottom Line: Thought provoking read that is applicable to today’s modern world.
Have you read Gift from the Sea? Have you heard of Anne Morrow Lindbergh? Do you ever tire of today’s fast pace and focus on appearances?