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The Boundless Deep    by Kate Brallier order for
Boundless Deep
by Kate Brallier
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Boundless Deep is a romantic account of the intrusion of a past life - with unfinished business - on a modern one. English major grad student Liza Donovan constantly dreams of being a storm tossed whaler on the open sea, facing disaster and drowning by a monster whale - and feeling guilt, that something she has done has 'drawn down the wrath of God' upon the whaleboat and all its crew.

Liza's mercurial roommate and best friend Jane Bryant is fascinated by her dreams, and has arranged for them to stay with her Aunt Kitty Bryant in Nantucket for the summer. Kitty's home is a grand historical mansion that used to be the residence of whaler Captain Obadiah Young and his pretty young wife Lucy. Also there for the summer is Kitty's testy godson, Lucian Theriault (he and Jane squabble continually). Jane's theory that her friend is a reincarnation of someone who once lived in the mansion is supported when Liza displays an uncanny knowledge of the house. She also reacts to a particular spot on the stairs, feeling guilt and hearing a plea for help.

Seeking background that might help explain what's happening to Liza, the two friends head for the Nantucket Whaling Museum, where Liza falls for the hot museum curator Adam Gallagher and experiences more reactions and dizzy spells. Despite observing what looks like Liza's flakiness and the fact that he's still pining for an ex-girlfriend, Adam asks her out and recommends her for a summer job as a museum guide. Jane quickly finds herself a position as a bartender. And Liza's dreams evolve to include nights of passion, the birth of a son, and a death for which she feels remorse ... she wonders if she was a murderer in a past life.

Of course, all becomes clear by the end of the book - including the past identities of key players in the modern story - and both past and present love triangles are resolved. Though Kate Brallier's writing has been compared to that of the remarkable Mary Stewart, it's by no means as subtle, being rather heavy-handed in Liza's reactions to past life locations and portraits. But the puzzle of what really happened pulls readers through The Boundless Deep to its satisfying ending.

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