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Gift From The Sea – Book Review

The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no mater what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel. What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. -From Gift From The Sea, page 29-

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s slim book of essays, Gift From The Sea, was first published in 1955. Her work within the pages of this book was inspired during a short vacation she took by herself to an island – a place where she communed with the wide expanse of the sea, the star-filled nights, the sandy beaches and the  empty shells of mysterious ocean life. Lindbergh contemplates love and marriage, solitude, and inner strength, using shells as metaphor for how to live our lives.

Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside. But I am starting with the outside. I am looking at the outside of my life – the shell. The complete answer is not to be found on the outside, in an outward mode of living. This is only a technique, a road to grace. The final answer, I know, is always inside. -From Gift From the Sea, page 35-

If it is woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too. But how? Solitude, says the moon shell. Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. -From Gift From the Sea, page 48-

The book gives a unique insight into a time in history for women. The 50s housewife was just beginning to see the possibilities for herself, and Lindbergh captures that eagerness. She also inserts a warning to women not to forget where their strength lies – inside.

But, in our recent efforts to emancipate ourselves, to prove ourselves the equal of man, we have, naturally enough perhaps, been drawn into competing with him in his outward activities, to the neglect of our own inner springs. -From Gift From the Sea, page 48-

Gifts From the Sea is a timeless classic.  I highlighted many passages which are still relevant to today’s world. Lindbergh writes with a beauty and wisdom, a poetic style which draws the reader in.

Highly recommended.


  1. October 29, 2008    

    How lovely. I have a copy of this on my TBR shelf, but just haven’t gotten to it yet. It sounds beautiful.

  2. October 29, 2008    

    Jeane: I read this book in just a few hours – it is a quick and wonderful read. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think about it.

  3. October 29, 2008    

    It does sound like a fantastic, thought provoking read. Thanks for the review.

  4. October 29, 2008    

    This is a treasured book on my bookcase. My mother gave it to me years ago (high school graduation? I’ll have to go look at the inscription!). Thanks for reminding me about it.

  5. October 29, 2008    

    I read this last year (I think – could’ve been the year before), and had the same reaction as you. It was like taking a long, deep breath.

  6. October 30, 2008    

    I read about this book when it was quoted in another book I was reading – had never heard of it before but now have it waiting to read.

  7. October 30, 2008    

    It’s been a few years since I read this book…it’s time to take it off the shelf for another look. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. October 30, 2008    

    Kathy: You’re welcome 🙂

    Dawn: Almost everyone who reviews this book or who has read it tends to use that word: treasured. It is a wonderful little book, isn’t it?

    Carrie: Exactly!

    Karen: I hope you will enjoy it as I did.

    JoAnn: You’re welcome…It is such a quick read too, that it is an easy one to re-read.

  9. October 31, 2008    

    Gift From the Sea is an all-time favorite of mine, one of the few books I’ve read over and over. I’m glad you liked it. Nice review!

  10. November 1, 2008    

    Alison: Thanks! I can see where this would be a book to be re-visited from time to time…

  11. November 2, 2008    

    This book is beautiful, and reminds us of what’s truly important in life (and how life can be enhanced without all the material clutter). It also makes a great gift and a welcome addition to any library. It’s a book to be read and reread as often as possible.

  12. November 2, 2008    

    I read this just about a year ago, but never got around to posting a review. Actually, I listened to it on audio and wanted to go back and read the hard copy book so I could highlight all the wonderful passages. Haven’t done that yet! Needless to say, it’s a wonderful book and one I’ll read over and over again. The audio is quite good, too.

  13. November 2, 2008    

    This book sounds wonderful. I just added it to my TBR.

  14. November 3, 2008    

    Suko: I agree. I can see myself buying this for all my women friends!

    Les: I had so many stickies on the pages it was funny…great quotes.

    Teddy: You’d love this one.

  15. November 18, 2008    

    In the early 1990’s a book in Afrikaans was given to me by my daughters School Principal who knew of my illness (Cancer). I not sure if it was the same author but it sounds so much, in fact exactly the same as “Gift from the Sea”. What a inspiration and i know that today i am here to say this because of this book, it gave me the strength and inspiration to take time out for “Me”. I live by those rules.
    “Bless Anne” for touching so many woman’s lives

  16. November 20, 2008    

    Sanlie: What a lovely story – thank you for sharing. I think Anne Lindbergh was very wise…and I’m grateful she shared her wisdom with us.

  17. Holly Holly
    May 17, 2011    

    I own and have read the book many times and it is just beautiful. The book pictured above is the book I have and it states that Mrs. Lindbergh location was on an island in the state of Maine. I could relate so well as that is where I am also from and I know the beauty of the coast there. However, I just picked up the 50th anniversary edition as a gift for my friend’s birthday. Mrs. Lindbergh’s daughter Reeve does the Forward in the beginning of the book and indicates that her mother wrote the book while in Captiva in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. I was so surprised and disappointed and it makes no sense. Can anyone out there shed some light on why the same book would claim to be written in two entirely different places?

  18. May 30, 2011    

    Holly: I agree – it is a beautiful book…I can’t answer your question about the discrepancy about where the book was written – it is very odd!

  19. Joanne Joanne
    February 3, 2013    

    I figure that Anne Morrow Lindbergh was about 20 years older than I, and she certainly lived a more luxurious and sheltered life. But I don’t envy her at all; in fact I pity her. Not only because her son was kidnapped and murdered, but because her view of other women and herself was so narrow and idealized. To me her book came across as pious rumblings from an unhappy woman who didn’t have the courage to leave her husband and move out into the world and be her own person.

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