“Low Tide” is the story of Jezebel, daughter of an English art-dealer and a mad Louisiana heiress, and her fatal love-affair with two young brothers....
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Low Tide Reviews
A first novel. She got better as she went on
Exquisite Minimalist Painting in Words, January 15, 1999I stumbled upon a first edition of "Low Tide" languishing on a lower shelf in North Beach. Immediately drawn to the deep, swirling mauves and gothic typeface of its cover, I flipped the book over to discover the portrait in profile of a straight-back girl - Ms. Eberstadt - and Everything about this girl shrieked DEB!! DEB!! DEB!! And I was right; a lovely example of belles lettres is this thin volume of prose - quasi-autobiographical I suppose - and a wonderful evocation of the compressed, elite world she must live in.In brief, Jezebel, her protagonist, lives with her mother, who "...weaned her on stories of the Great Terrebonne, a teetering Third Empire house with dizzy cupolas," in the Louisiana swamp. By page two, it turns out that her Mum's got bats in her belfry, for she and Jezebel actually live on New York's Upper East Side in a brownstone with cocoa labels steamed off tins and arrayed on their kitchen walls like "hot fetishes." Eustacius - an addition to bearing a lovely name- is their illiterate Black manservant ("I reads between the lines") who "dishes out equal portions of gumbo and wisdom" in the absence of her effete father who ,she explains, has expatriated himself to Oxford, England's groves of academe. Precocious Jezebel is in love with Jem Chasm, the son of Prof. Chasm, who "grew up in hotel suites" with his mother, Bocanegra Chasem. After a passing fancy for a teacher at the Brearley School Jezebel turns all her attention to Jem and actually turns up at Oxford.Jem is as cruel and beautiful as Jezebel, and for 18 year olds they are pretty astoundingly jaded already. Jem has "more money than he knew what to do with," and so, evidentally, has she, but the money takes a back seat here to Jezebel's worshipful, idolatrous love for Jem, besides, money is filthy lucre in Ms. Eberstadt's worldview (unlike all those other 80s and 90s writers who write of nothing but), and she has, I suspect, like Eustacius, no patience for "bedizened spics showing up late for dinner." Yes, this is "heady stuff," and the plot is anything but linear. Jem, her love-object grew up on tramp steamers and trains and above all, in world-class hotels; sired by a doughty professor on the daughter of a Chiapan millionaire.To me this book is brilliant. I love Ms. Eberstadt's writing and I prefer "Low Tide to both "Daughters" and "Isaac's Devil's" because it is so pure, like the portrait of an artist as a young (wo)man. In telling a simple story she can bring in such understanding and she really knows her class from the inside out; she's an intellectual deb - a rara avis, indeed - and one with a conscience (read Daughters) and a vocabulary that won't stop and can be likened to something along the lines of a Jamesian amalgam of British and American English. She's adept at both description and metaphor without a jot of overdoing it. One of my faves. Would she publish another book soon!!!Notwithstanding Jezebel, Eberstadt's characters are sort of spectral forms and outlines of flesh and blood beings. They are as polished and poised as the world they inhabit, which adds to the overall sparceness of "Low Tide," like an exquisite minimalist painting
A dark, melancholy, and still alluring coming-of-age novel. Eberstadt's heroine and her doomed lover pursue each other across England, New York, and the Mexican badlands in a novel that's witty, disturbing, funny, and heartbreaking by turns. Highly recommended. Merged review:I found "Low Tide" long ago, when it was still a first novel by a new and talented writer...and one whose dust jacket portrait at twenty-four was ethereal and lovely. I loved this book all those years ago, and I've never understood why it's not still in print and why it hasn't been made into a film. "Low Tide" is a powerful, melancholy, witty, and heartbreaking coming-of-age novel with a heroine who'll stay in your memory. Very highly recommended.
This was a wonderful coming-of-age story. The wonderful thing about it is that it doesn't feel like a coming-of-age story. Great characters whom I both love and loathe at many points in the story. It's definitely something I would recommend to anyone.
This early novel by Eberstadt has an existentialist feel to it.