The Wonders of Whale Watching

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Penguin | Penguin Books
Pages: 338 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Liza McCullen will never fully escape her past. But the unspoiled beaches and tight-knit community of Silver Bay offer the freedom and safety she craves—if not for herself, then for her young daughter, Hannah. That is, until Mike Dormer arrives as a guest in her aunt’s hotel. 

For his part, Mike Dormer is expecting just another business deal—an easy job kick-starting a resort in a small seaside town ripe for development. But he finds that he doesn’t quite know what to make of the eccentric inhabitants of the ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel, especially not enigmatic Liza McCullen, and their claim to the surrounding waters.

As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, Mike’s and Liza’s worlds collide in this hugely affecting and irresistible tale full of Jojo Moyes’s signature humor and generosity.

Thoughts on Silver Bay
Cassie and I were originally going to read Silver Bay for Favorite Factor, but we've decided to make a few fun changes to the feature. We'll be doing a special edition of the post in December, but you can expect to see the new and improved version of this adult fiction feature in 2015. While we aren't jointly reviewing this book, I've still got thoughts to share!

Silver Bay is set in a small beach community in Australia, and I think the setting might have been my favorite part of the book. I could totally picture this tight-knit group and their love for the water, the animals that called it home and their way of life. The place came alive while I was reading! And it serves as one of the most important aspects of the story because it drives the main conflict of the book: the threat people pose to nature. It made me more aware of the impact people have on the environment, so I liked it in that regard.

However, Silver Bay didn't really live up to my expectations overall. I've loved everything I've read so far by Jojo Moyes, and this just didn't hold a candle to her more recent books. The pace of this book is much slower than anything else I've read from her, and it took me a long time to get hooked on the story. Things pick up near the ending, but it was a little too late for me to change my overall feelings on the book.

I wonder if part of my problem is just that I didn't really connect to the premise. There's the big corporation looking to uproot a beach town and threatening the marine life, and I think I might have enjoyed the book more if I was concerned for the animals and felt strongly about the outcome of the proposed hotel. As it was, I needed something else to reel me in... and I never really got it.

Everything I've read from Jojo Moyes before has been very character-driven, which totally appeals to me as a reader. While that's somewhat true in Silver Bay, I didn't form the same connection with these characters. There are a lot of characters in Silver Bay, and I think my biggest issue is that they're all given a place in the narrative. While multiple POVs can work, I think it became too disjointed for me in this one. I think there were six different perspectives, and only three (maybe four) of them seemed important. It was just overwhelming! 

I wish that I'd gotten to spend more time with a few specific characters rather than flit between so many of them. I think that contributed to the slower pace, too. And, unfortunately, I didn't like most of the characters. I had issues with both Liza and Mike - the main characters - and was never invested in them. I didn't care very much about Liza's past, Mike's present or their possible future. With another writer, I may have felt differently. But for Jojo, the characters were a total letdown.

As you can probably guess, this wasn't an emotional read for me. At one point, things finally started to pick up and I did find myself a bit more invested. But I still felt mostly "meh" on what was happening overall. The romance was so underdeveloped and lackluster... I can't even pinpoint why these people liked each other. And some of the twists felt a bit too dramatic (maybe even melodramatic) and completely changed the pace of the book. Some of the tension in Silver Bay hinges on some pretty big secrets, which is never my favorite plot device.

I wanted to love this book, and I was so sad when I had to remind myself to pick it up and just finish it already. The one plus? I liked some of the familial relationships and the way those were explored. I don't regret reading this book, but I don't think it holds a candle to everything else I've read from Jojo so far.

So Quotable
"Look out at the sea for long enough, at its moods and frenzies, at its beauties and terrors, and you’ll have all the stories you need— of love and danger, and about what life lands in your nets. And the fact that sometimes it’s not your hand on the tiller, and you can do no more than trust that it’ll all work out okay.”


  1. So whenever I get a new post notification I always try to guess what the book is based on your title. :) I immediately knew which one this would be!

    Anyway, spot on with your review. I had a hard time getting into this one and it wasn't until the halfway mark that the ball really got rolling for me. THAT SAID, Silver Bay wasn't my favorite Jojo novel and even though I gave it five stars, this was the only one of hers I felt obligated to rate highly. The others I've read have all been worthy of 5, 6, 10 stars but this one..I rated it highly because I love her other books. :/

    In my own review I mentioned that if someone is just getting into Jojo, Silver Bay isn't the one to start with and that's so disappointing. I'm hoping this one was just a weird fluke - it's the 4th I've read and the other three have all been fabulous!

  2. Look at me actually commenting on your post instead of just in my head! I was very curious about this book, because I am a big fan of Moyes. I'm sorry to hear it wasn't quite the favorite of the others you've read, and I get the sense that several of these issues would bug me as well. I also got the sense that there might be some sort of triangle in this that might bug me. I think Moyes does add dramatic things into her plots that create high emotions. But if you're not connecting to the characters, I can imagine it could all fall flat. I still need to read The Girl You Left Behind, so I will look to that one next. I'm hoping that's going to be another winner for me. Thanks so much for the review!

  3. I will probably still attempt to read this as I have found myself slightly obsessed with Jojo Moyes as of late, but I'm scared now! I think it is incredibly difficult to have multiple points of view in a book. 6 points of view seems incredibly overwhelming and I have a feeling I may have to take notes or it might end up as a DNF!

    I'm also sad to hear that it isn't quite as character driven as some of her other books. That is what I have enjoyed about her writing thus far, but I suppose I won't be quite as let down now that I have a decent idea of what to expect.


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