The Eyes of the Amaryllis

Natalie Babbitt

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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When the brig Amaryllis was swallowed in a hurricane, the captain and all the crew were swallowed, too. For thirty years the captain’s widow, Geneva Reade, has waited, certain that her husband will send her a message from the bottom of the sea. But someone else is waiting, too, and watching her, a man called Seward. Into this haunted situation comes Jenny, the widow’s granddaughter. The three of them, Gran, Jenny, and Seward, are drawn into a kind of deadly game with one another and with the sea, a game that only the sea knows how to win.

The Eyes of the Amaryllis is a 1977 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year.

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Book Excerpts

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“Well, Mother,” said the big man uneasily, turning his hat round and round in his hands.

“Well, George,” the old woman returned. Her voice was strong and brisk, but, for him, a little critical. She looked up at him from her wing chair by the sunny window and saw—her son, yes, but also a stranger, well into middle age, tall but stooped, with the pale skin and scratchy-looking clothes of an inland man of business. And she saw in him also what he had been: a happy, wild-haired boy running barefoot on the beach.

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Praise for The Eyes of the Amaryllis

“The plot is simple but so well written and carefully constructed that its familiar elements—an estranged mother and son, an undying love—undergo a sea-change, too. And, for all its apparent simplicity, the images evoked are deep and complex.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Having read this book, one feels changed, haunted for life.”—Minneapolis Tribune

“The language is as exotic as an underwater treasure trove.”—Book World

“Mrs. Babbitt paints late 19th century domestic and aquatic scenes with enormous sensitivity and uses language masterfully to achieve action and imagery. The characters of the widow and her granddaughter are superbly drawn. . . . The romance and symbolism will appeal strongly to adolescent girls.”—Poughkeepsie Journal

“This is a skillfully told story, offering a haunting and challenging read for the middle reader.”—The Baltimore Sun

“Babbitt wastes nary a word, deftly carving characters and events into a gripping tale, successfully using the sea both as an impelling atmospheric force and as an effective protagonist.”—Booklist
“The reader is treated to a poignant awareness of the power of love and its ability to shape the lives of those who experience it most deeply.”—St. Louis Post Dispatch

“Natalie Babbitt’s lightness of touch as she broaches deep and delicate themes is something admirable.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“An intricate combination of patterns, like a jacquard weave, the book succeeds as a well-wrought narrative in which a complex philosophical theme is developed through the balanced, subtle use of symbol and imagery. It is a rare story, accessible to the discriminating preadolescent; because of its perfect scale and transcendent style, it neither diminishes the subject nor the audience.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“An atmospheric, romantic tale.”—Kirkus Reviews

“‘Musical’ is a descriptor often applied, even over-applied, to poetry. But prose is just as obliged to rhythm and cadence, to the hum of warm vowels and the crackle of consonants. And there is music in the language of Natalie Babbitt’s 16th novel, which is fitting because she is so often describing the ocean. If you listen you can hear it roaring inside her sentences. Set in an unspecified bygone era but free of fancified old-timey verbiage, this book is a little gem—something to read in one evening, tucked up in bed.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Natalie Babbitt wastes no words in the telling of this gripping tale. Love story for sure, ghost story, maybe, but a story sure to entertain and haunt ten- to twelve-year-old readers.”—Armchair Interviews

“. . . the perfect time to stock your shelves with these elegantly designed editions.”—School Library Journal’s “Extra Helping” on Square Fish’s Babbitt reissues

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Natalie Babbitt

A gifted artist and writer, Natalie Babbitt is the award-winning author of the modern classic Tuck Everlasting, Kneeknock Rise and many other brilliantly original books for young people. She began her career in 1966 as the illustrator of The Forty-ninth Magician, a collaboration with her husband. When her husband became a college president and no longer had time to collaborate, Babbitt tried her hand at writing. Her first novel, The Search for Delicious, established her gift for writing magical tales with profound meaning. Kneeknock Rise earned her a Newbery Honor Medal, and in 2002, Tuck Everlasting was adapted into a major motion picture. Natalie Babbitt lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and is a grandmother of three.

Natalie Babbitt


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Available Formats and Book Details

The Eyes of the Amaryllis
Natalie Babbitt


American Library Association Notable Children's Books, New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Books of the Year

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
October 2010
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429955171
ISBN10: 1429955171
Middle-Grade Fiction144 pages
Age Range: 10 to 13
Grade Range: 5 to 8

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Square Fish
August 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312370084
ISBN10: 0312370083
Middle-Grade Fiction
5 3/16 x 7 5/8 inches, 144 pages
Age Range: 10 to 13
Grade Range: 5 to 8 Information for Librarians

Information for Librarians

Lexile: 840LL
F&P Level A-Z: V
AR Quiz Number: 8518
AR Points: 3


From The Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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