Title: A Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 295 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love—for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love.
Evocative and thought-provoking, A Drop in the Ocean is a story about second chances and hard lessons learned in the gentlest of ways.
A Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden is a thought-provoking journey of self-discovery for lead protagonist Anna Fergusson.
At loose ends when her Huntingdon’s Disease research ends after losing funding, Anna impulsively applies for a position as a camp ground caretaker on an isolated island off the coast of Australia. Eagerly exploring Turtle Island, she quickly becomes fascinated by the sea turtle nesting monitoring being carried out by Tom Scarlett. Although Anna is an introvert who is used to her own company, it does not take long for loneliness to set in and she quickly befriends several of her fellow island dwellers. Surprised by her attraction to Tom, an easygoing romance develops between them but complications ensue after Anna realizes her feelings run much deeper than friendship.
After having her heart broken in her mid twenties, Anna decided to give up on relationships and focus exclusively on her career. Now forty-nine, she leads a fairly sterile, lonely life. She is not especially close to her mother but she does have one close friend she has known since college. Suffering from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, she is having a difficult time deciding what to do after her research project ends. While confident the isolation of Turtle Island won’t bother her, Anna is taken off guard by how quickly she begins to feels lonely once she settles into a regular routine. Afraid her overtures will be rebuffed, she is at first hesitant to approach her neighbors, but Anna is pleasantly surprised by how welcoming everyone is.
In between her duties at the camp, Anna volunteers to help Tom with his sea turtle research. He is friendly and fun loving, but he gives up very few details about himself. Initially tongue-tied and shy in his company, Anna is convinced he would never be interested in a dried up old spinster (which is how she perceives herself) so she tries to ignore her growing attraction to him. Their friendship begins to change after they spend a few days together on a neighboring island, but Anna is confused by their casual relationship. While she is ready to take a chance on a future together, Tom is not exactly receptive to a commitment of any kind.
While her relationship with Tom is a bit uncertain, Anna’s newfound friendships with the other islanders flourish. She is quite close with Pat Anderson, a widow who lives year round on Turtle Island. Pat’s enthusiasm and zest for life is just what Anna needs to coax her into experiencing all of the wonders the island has to offer. As the months pass, Anna finds more than friendship with her neighbors as her life becomes enmeshed with theirs. Most surprising is the surrogate family she finds with Kirsty and her newborn. This relationship is a source of wonder and joy as Anna delights in the unexpected connection she feels with the young mother and her baby.
With a cast of multi-layered characters and a captivating setting, A Drop in the Ocean by is a heartfelt and engaging novel that is quite compelling. The storyline is richly developed with interesting facts about various topics and the relationships are realistically portrayed. Jenni Ogden’s meticulous research brings the setting and characters vibrantly to life. Anna’s journey is quite fascinating and it is immensely gratifying seeing the lasting effects wrought by her experiences on Turtle Island. I highly recommend this heartwarming novel to readers of contemporary women’s fiction.