Guest Book Review: The Sea Witch by Brian Bigelow
I’m reviewing The Sea Witch by Brian Bigelow. This short story focuses on Timothy, an abusive husband whose wife leaves him. After she does, he buys a boat and tries to change his life. Along the way, he meets a new woman, and must decide what to do with his new life.
As a short story, it isn’t too bad. Our introduction to Timothy is shocking, and he is full of self-hatred and pain. He wants to change his life, and after selling his company and home, he buys the Sea Witch, a small sailboat, and decides to cruise the Caribbean. I kind of like this story, it seems like the basis for a good romantic movie. But the problem is there is no drama. The first third is great, as Timothy struggles to change his life and his search for direction while on the ocean.
After he meets Cherise, the story gets stale quickly. The two fall in love and begin a new life together, sailing from one island to the next. But a whole lot of not much happens. They sail, they go to towns, eat, make love, and generally feel how lucky they are to have each other. Timothy doesn’t have any lingering pain from his ten years of a bad marriage, he almost never thinks of his ex-wife, and Cherise is a blank slate that we never learn anything about. There is no conflict, which makes the quick read seem to take a long time to finish. I kept expecting Tim’s ex-wife to appear unexpectedly or for Cherise to reveal a big secret they would test Tim’s love for her, but it never happened. They get unofficially married but Tim never tells Cherise about how he broke his ex-wife’s arm. It never crosses his mind.
I feel this book was a lost opportunity. There were moments where so much more could have been explored. With all the time spent on the ocean, flashbacks or backstory could have been added to flesh out the story. Another flaw is the passive voice the book was written in. It almost feels like a more dramatized Cliff Notes version of a longer work.
This book had potential and I think Brian Bigelow could turn it into a full-length novel. Drama is conflict and that is desperately what this story needed.