THE EYES OF THE AMARYLLIS by Natalie Babbitt

THE EYES OF THE AMARYLLIS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An atmospheric, romantic tale: of the sea, which "will take what it wants and keep what it has taken"; of a captain's widow who (truly forsaking all others) has been waiting 30 years for a sign from her drowned husband; of the old woman's son who fled in his youth from the treacherous sea--and perhaps from his mother's indifference; and of the granddaughter, also named Geneva, who goes to help when Gram breaks her ankle and who thus becomes involved in her desperate nightly search along the shore. There's another character too, named Seward, but only the two Genevas can see him or his footprints as he prowls the shore in the sea's employ, hoping to find the "sign" before Gram does so that he can return it according to the bargain he made with the sea when he was drowning years before. It was Seward who told Gram that the swallowed ships, with "all the poor drowned sailors," are kept at the bottom of the sea to guard its treasures, and that her husband was down there struggling to send her some sort of token. And when young Geneva retrieves from the waves the wooden figurehead carved in Gram's image long ago, it is Seward who warns that the sea will have it back because "the ship can't see without its eyes." But Gram is stubborn and it takes a hurricane to wrest it from her--and her son's arrival at the crucial moment to save her from drowning. This fortuitous last undercuts the seriousness of the tale, and there is more to come. Also, unlike Tuck Everlasting (which also had more life and incident), the plot of . . . the Amaryllis is somewhat precariously based--on a notion (the drowned treasure patrol) that is just not compelling enough for the elemental magnitude of the struggle. Still, as Babbit projects it, Gram's devotion--whether steadfast or obsessive--has its fascination.
Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
ISBN: 0312370083
Page count: 150pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1977




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