Storm Tide is a novel of lost dreams, fiery politics, and consuming passion.
At a very young age, David Greene, the guy with the incredible pitching arm, saw his dreams of playing in the majors almost fulfilled. But he never made it out of the minor leagues. Now, divorced, with a son he’s not allowed to see, David returns to the shores of his hometown, the small Cape Cod hamlet of Saltash, once a local hero, now a failure. There he meets Judith Silver, a beautiful, brilliant lawyer, and her husband, the eminent professor Gordon Stone – an imposing presence much older than Judith, a living legend now dying of cancer. These two prominent members of the community befriend, nurture, and eventually push David to run for political office. As David considers the proposition, he and Judith fall into a passionate affair. It is a liaison that does not go unnoticed by Gordon, who, curiously, tacitly allows it to unfold. Gordon is more concerned with the election at hand – which pits his candidate, David, against the powerful man who virtually runs the town. Into this explosive mix, a young woman appears – a single mother at the end of her emotional rope.
Crystal desperately needs David, and her son provides a seductive way into David’s heart. Yet, caught between two women, and two volatile triangles of desire and devotion, David bears witness to a heartbreaking tragedy that seems as inevitable as the push and pull of ocean waves. In Storm Tide, Piercy and Wood have produced a hypnotic story that joins richly imagined characters and a vivid New England setting with a page-turning plot.
Now in Paperback
Ballantine Readers Circle Edition with an Interview and Readers Guide
The Ballantine Publishing Group
$12.95 USA / $19.95 CANADA
Reviews of Storm Tide
The New York Times Book Review – August 23, 1998
by Ruth Coughlin
When young David Greene leaves his hometown on Cape Cod, he’s headed for what he imagines will be a big career with the Chicago Cubs. Fifteen years later, having failed in both baseball and marriage, he returns to the picturesque village of Saltash, seemingly a man with neither ambition nor purpose. Then along comes Judith Silver, a brilliant and gorgeous lawyer who is married to Gordon Stone, an eminent sociologist, known for his many marriages and his liberal politics. Stone, who is terminally ill, urges Judith not only to have an affair with David but also to persuade him to run for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, going up against wily Johnny Lynch, an old-time pol who has controlled the town for decades. Much to his astonishment, David wins the election, later becoming involved with a wildly seductive and troubled you woman who works for Lynch. Narrated from the alternating perspectives of David, Judith and Johnny, “Storm Tide” is the collaborative effort of the husband-and-wife team of Marge Piercy, a poet and novelist, and Ira Wood, a novelist, playwright and teacher. But the book itself speaks with one powerful voice, moving inexorably toward tragedy even as it offers a hint of redemption.
The Los Angeles Times – June 24, 1998
Churning Up a Coastal Town’s Demons
by Thomas Curwen
“What did it feel like to die this way?” we’re asked to imagine at the beginning. “They said her hair was encrusted with seaweed and crabs… They say she must have struggled to free herself, that as she grabbed at the grass her efforts only increased the suction of the mud. They still call it an accidental death.” Welcome to Saltash, Mass, a small town made instantly smaller by local elections. David Green just ran for selectman against a school teacher set up by town boss Johnny Lynch. Green was recruited by lynch’s foes and had an affair with the wife of Lynch’s longtime nemesis. But that was before he met Crystal Sinclair.Sex and politics, as we know, are a combustible mix. Find them in a small town and you have the making of a firestorm. Place them in a novel and you have the makings of a cliché. It’s all a matter of how you control the burn, and Marge Piercy and Ira Wood know how to play with fire. Wood, in previous novels, proved himself a deft, if sometimes uneven, storyteller, and Piercy, in her poems and novels, is an impassioned, if sometimes rhetorical, stylist. In “Storm Tide,” they’ve dropped all the sometimes – es and delivered a confident page-burner. Green and Lynch run into each other over the dike that Lynch built 30 years ago to keep back the tides and drain the land, turning a shellfish field into a housing tract. Its opponents want part of the estuary restored; Lynch wants more homes. Green’s undecided, and Piercy and Wood wisely show that politics, no matter the slant or civility, do nothing to ease fear and fear sharpens the acrimony. A Jew in a WASP’s nest, Green’s moment of fame was as the Sandy Koufax of the local high school baseball team. Recruited by the Cubs, he was let go after a disappointing round in the minors. At 32, broke, divorced and estranged from his son, David returned to Saltash, a little adrift. Old dreams also haunt Lynch. Gone are the days when his authority went unquestioned, when respect and consent were the price for a cord of wood or a driveway plowed to your door, and he blames Gordon Stone for devaluing his stock. Stone lives apart from the town and is dying of lung cancer. His fourth wife, Judith Silver, is half his age, and together they enlist David in the cause – and a little more. At first, David’s wary of consensual adultery, but Piercy and Wood make a case for it. “We do what we want,” Judith explains. “Everybody’s honest. Nobody gets hurt. What is the problem?” the question’s smartly drawn, coming from a woman who loves her husband, a man worried about her future when he’s gone. But the entanglement drives David into the arms of Crystal sinclair, prodigal daughter of Saltash, home now with her 8-year-old-son and more baggage than she can carry. “I’m your anything girl,” she eagerly tells David.Sex is played like a weapon in “Storm Tide,” and david’s a perfect target. A pawn in Crystal’s bed, he forgets Judith and throws any doubt into the campaign, and by the time the good people of Saltash chose their selectman, Piercy and Wood have turned the town inside out. On the night of Rosh Hashanah, a storm tide rises, and the next day, a body is found in the marsh. The death is ruled accidental, but everyone played a role in this tragedy.What threatens to go adrift in “Storm Tide” is deftly weighted to the histories that Piercy and Wood provide their characters. Few steps are mistaken. Crystal’s desperation becomes the story of a mother, frightened for her son, struggling to hold on to a world that threatens to wash away. And a simplistic dialectic – the debate over the dike – grows into a picture of economic uncertainty and material doubt.In an afterward, Piercy and Wood, who are married, describe the experience writing “Storm tide.” Collaboration, they tell us, “requires being able to detach from your own preconceptions and actually listen to the other person’s motives.” It is a process that makes “Storm Tide” a satisfying blend of sex and politics. If only real life were so honestly realized.
Kirkus Reviews – April 15, 1998
Two noted writers (Piercy’s many novels include City of Darkness, City of Light, 1996, and The Longings of Women, 1994; Wood is the author of Going Public, 1991) combine to write a seamless coming-of-age story in which a man must confront his past, his enemies, and the results of a tragic accident before he can finally settle into a new life. The story of David Greene, a native of Saltash, Cape Cod, is narrated in turn by David; by Judith Silver, a lawyer, and his advisor and lover; and by Johnny Lynch, the old politician who runs the town. While David is from Saltash, he has never really been a part of it; the townspeople, fearing and distrusting outsiders, had little to do with his Jewish family when he was growing up and still keeps David and summer people like Judith and her dying husband Gordon, a noted academic, at arm’s length. Johnny, in fact, has played cunningly on this fear of outsiders to keep himself in power. David has now returned to Saltash after his marriage and his career in baseball have both ended. His life seems to be going nowhere until Judith and Gordon suggest he try politics. He does, and in the process begins to fall in love with Judith, who now practices in Saltash, and also finds himself being dangerously attracted to troubled single mother Crystal, who, with her lonely son Laramie, insinuates her way into his life. But Johnny fights dirty, and David, though elected, has to deal not only with the two women who love him but with Johnny’s sly machinations. A storm and horrible accident help David realize that he can face down Johnny and that Saltash-and Judith-mean something essential to him. A wise tale, in a vividly rendered setting, of men and women learning to live and love more fully.
Booklist – April 15, 1998
by Brad Hooper
Piercy’s latest novel was written in partnership with her writer husband, but the reader would never know that their book is the result of a collaboration. It is a carefully, artfully, and more relevant to the process of its creation, seamlessly told story about a man named David Greene, who, after his career in professional baseball, returns to his Cape Cod hometown, Saltash. There, David runs a landscaping business with his sister; he gets involved with a married woman, a successful lawyer, who is the wife of a distinguished older man who is dying of cancer; and he is pulled into running for local selectman. Then a fragile single mother comes into his life, and David stumbles into an affair with her, too; he comes to have great affection not for her but for her son. His self-admitted “tangled sex life” leads to the death of one of his mistresses, but not before the reader is totally engrossed in this stylish depiction of small-town politics, sexual vulnerability, insecurity of the heart, and good old-fashioned guilt.