Book Review//My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber



I grew up going to Cape Cod for a week every summer. We loved it and spent weeks ahead of time thinking and planning. We always rented a cottage, usually at the same place, and we spent the week eating seafood, walking the National Seashore, collecting buckets of shells and rocks, and trying to convince our parents to visit tacky gift shops. The Cape has become more and more crowded over the years and I don't go back very often but it still holds a special place in my heart. When I smell the salt marshes and feel the sand between my toes, when I eat fried shrimp while sitting at a picnic table at a roadside clam shack, and when I watch the sunset at Rock Harbor I feel like I have returned to my childhood.

I just finished My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber. My grandmother loaned me a book by Taber and I enjoyed it so I got this from the library yesterday and gobbled it down. Taber owned a house on the Cape during the '60s and '70s and wrote lovingly about a Cape that existed just slightly before my time. She, too, watched the sunsets at Rock Harbor and visited First Encounter beach. She loved the beach roses as I do and she appreciated the special Cape Cod scenery.

On the way to absorb a Rock Harbor sunset, I passed the beach plums along the meadow-edge of Rock Harbor Road. They were just coming into full bloom and they are the real music of May. The flowers are close-set on charcoal branches and the bushes themselves are graceful as a ballet dancer. The blooming is whiter than white until the end of it when the whole bush turns a soft Victorian shade of pink and then ebbs to cinnamon. 

The book reads as if you are having a gentle conversation with an old friend. She rants a bit about modern day life and how we are all being reduced to numbers. I wonder what she would think of our passwords and pins that we have to remember now. She mentions hippies and the Vietnam War but both of these are passing mentions. In general, you sink back into a nostalgic world where neighbors watch out for each other and no one locks their door.

I mention this kind of thing every now and then as a part of the nervous strain of present-day livng. When I was child, I had one number to remember-7-our house was 7 Brokaw Place. Now, in nightmares, I find I have lost my social security number, my zip code, my bank identification number, and the ten digits that should go on the bottom of every dividend check. In a few years, children will be named Four and Five, like Beverley Nichols' cats. I can see it coming, even on Cape Cod!

This was the perfect book to read on a cold, snowy day. It was gentle and peaceful and nostalgic. Her love for the Cape shines through the whole book. Many of her other books are about Stillmeadow, her farm in Connecticut. I live in Connecticut and greatly enjoy those as well.

What is Cape Cod?
It is an amethyst glow at the horizon over Mill Pond, announcing dawn.
It is the Full Flower Moon in May walking in gold on quiet water.
It is intrepid fishermen setting out in small boats in wind and waves.
It is the same boats rocking gently at anchor in the opal sunset harbor.
Shadblow and beach plum in drifts of snow followed by wild wide-petaled roses on every slope, these are Cape Cod. 

2 comments

  1. I too love Gladys Taber and all her books. I've never been to Cape Cod but feel like I have by reading her life there. You described her perfectly-she feels like a friend.

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    1. I hope one day you get a chance to visit the Cape. I have only read two of Gladys Taber's books but I have enjoyed them both. She has such a conversational tone.

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