A Walk On The Beach
by Joan Anderson


Broadway Books, 2004. ISBN 0767914740.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 06/10/2004

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Relationships

I first "met" Joan Anderson in her book, A Year By the Sea. I was in awe of this woman who took a hiatus from her marriage, moved to the solitude of a life on Cape Cod and took the time to really get to know herself.

Her second book, An Unfinished Marriage, was a continuation of her journey, as she shared the story of how her husband eventually joined her in Cape Cod.

Not surprisingly, the third book in this trilogy, A Walk On the Beach, was an uncommon delight. I wasn't quite sure what else Ms. Anderson could share about her Cape Cod experience. I was soon to find out there was a lot left to tell.

Her first book in the trilogy will always be my favorite, but "A Walk On the Beach" ranks right up there with it. We are transported back to many of the same scenes we read about in "A Year By the Sea", but we learn of a remarkable friendship that began in an otherwise isolated period of the author's life.

On a foggy day, we walk with Ms. Anderson onto a jetty overlooking the ocean. There we are introduced to Joan Erikson—a writer and the wife of pioneering psychoanalyst Erik Erikson.

In the pages that follow, we are allowed a glimpse into the "Tales of Wisdom From An Unconventional Woman" (the subtitle of the book).

"The beach to me is a sacred zone between the earth and the sea, one of those in-between places where transitions can be experienced—where endings can be mourned and beginnings birthed. A walk along the beach offers the gift of the unexpected. Scan the horizon and glimpse the endelss possibilities. Stroll head down and encounter one natural treasure after another. Tease the tides and feel a sense of adventure. Dive into the surf and experience the rush of risk."

From the Prologue:

"One of the most significant gifts the beach has given me was Joan Erikson, an elderly woman whom I met accidentally on a foggy February day. She was to prod me to find myself again, even when I thought all was lost."

In her prologue, Ms. Anderson tells us that she hopes the readers of this book will be mentored by some of Joan Erikson's wisdom in much the same way she was mentored by the woman who used to say "The importnat thing is to share what you know. Be generative and pass it on. That is what makes all the difference."

To read this book is to discover validation of the desire to find true wisdom and inner awareness. To savor this book is to be enriched by the uncommon wisdom of a remarkable woman and to experience the sheer joy of a friendship extroidinaire.

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