Island Apart
  • Island Apart
  • Island Apart

Island Apart

4.2 15
by Steven Raichlen
     
 

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From the celebrated author of Planet Barbecue and How to Grill comes a surprising story of love, loss, redemption, and really good food.

Claire Doheney, recovering from a serious illness, agrees to house-sit in an oceanfront mansion on Chappaquiddick island in Martha's Vineyard. The New York book editor hopes to find solace, strength, and

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Overview

From the celebrated author of Planet Barbecue and How to Grill comes a surprising story of love, loss, redemption, and really good food.

Claire Doheney, recovering from a serious illness, agrees to house-sit in an oceanfront mansion on Chappaquiddick island in Martha's Vineyard. The New York book editor hopes to find solace, strength, and sufficient calm to finish her biography of the iconoclastic psychotherapist, Wilhelm Reich.

The last thing she expects to find is love.

Then she meets a mysterious man the locals call the Hermit. No one knows his real name or where he lives. To their mutual surprise, Claire and the stranger discover that they share a passion for cooking that soon sparks something more.

But Claire's new friend has a terrible secret that threatens to drive them apart forever. The clock is ticking. Can Claire let love into her life once more before it's too late?

Told by a New York Times bestselling author and international TV host with a keen eye for Chappaquiddick's extraordinary natural beauty, Island Apart has it all--romance, history, travel, crime, lovemaking of exquisite intensity, and cooking scenes so vivid, they'll make your taste buds ache with hunger. Steven Raichlen's novel is a smart love story--not to mention a terrific beach read. Think The Bridges of Madison County with better food.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
New York book editor Claire Doheney, finishing up her last few chemotherapy treatments for aggressive breast cancer, agrees to house-sit a friend's summer home on Chappaquiddick Island, close to Martha's Vineyard. After a bicycle accident, she meets a man known to the locals only as "the Hermit." The Hermit rarely speaks to anyone and lives solely off the land, but he and Claire begin a relationship sparked by their shared love of the culinary arts. Despite his looks—shabby and unkempt—the Hermit is quite the foodie. A romance develops between these two lonely people, both damaged by former relationships. VERDICT Cookbook author Raichlen (The Barbecue! Bible) makes his fiction debut with this tasty beach book whose wonderfully evocative descriptions of meals should not be read on an empty stomach. Despite a few flaws—a rushed ending and contrived situations easily and quickly resolved—Raichlin's novel will appeal to readers interested in later-in-life love stories and fans of culinary fiction.—Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN
Kirkus Reviews
In Raichlen's debut mainstream fiction, luck can run out and leave happiness hanging by a thread. Raichlen, journalist and television host, takes readers to Chappaquiddick Island, site of a notorious misjudgment, and writes about a New York editor and foodie trapped in double tragedy. Claire Doheney has won awards at Apogee Press, all while dealing with a co-ed–seducing, professor husband and a daughter, Molly, whose life is all grunge, angst and piercings. Then Claire finds a dreaded lump. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she informs her husband, who promptly responds that he has found another woman to bed. Claire heals from disease and divorce at the elegant Chappaquiddick home of her best friend, Sheila. On the isolated island, Claire encounters the Hermit of Chappaquiddick, disheveled and distant, a man with dark secrets. Raichlen is solid in his descriptions of island life, in season and out. Characters are always accomplished or intriguing, although he often uses celebrity comparisons--"Imagine Queen Latifah as a white woman with a voice like Bette Midler's." Raichlen knows food, cooking and the ambrosial joy of natural ingredients. The foodie descriptions are succulent on the page, but the narrative is one of love, loss and endurance. On Chappaquiddick, Claire works with a "brilliant…nutty as a fruitcake" biographer of Wilhelm Reich, the iconoclast, psychiatrist and inventor of the orgone accumulator much referenced in the tale. Simultaneously, after he tends her following a bike accident, Claire draws the Hermit from his shell with empathy and gourmet cooking. Romance, happiness and death follow. The cad husband gets comeuppance. Molly finds her feet. And characters as varied as Wrench, Molly's biker boyfriend, and Patrick, the compassionate ferry captain, make a veritable family. In the end, Claire even bests Beidermann, her bean-counting Master of Business Administration boss. Very much Nicholas Sparks, with a locavore's idealization of venison bacon, ramps, wild asparagus, white cap flint corn and Cape Poge Bay littlenecks and scallops.
From the Publisher

“Rich in character, incident, and mouthwatering food. A triumphant fictional debut.”
—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Cape Cod and City of Dreams

“Much more than a promising first novel by a formidably talented writer; it is a literary achievement of the first order… a heartfelt, redemptive, and irresistible novel. Raichlen handles this complex tale of romance, family, illness, and dark secrets with intelligence, grace, and abiding tenderness.”
—John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass 

“A quirky, surprising, and poignant romance, with a wonderful voice all its own.  Readers beware: the food in this novel will leave you ravenous.”
—Barbara D'Amato, Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Other Eyes

“Steven Raichlen has written a magical novel about a magical place.  He deftly captures the subtleties, oddities, and beguiling charm of Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick. Take this literary ferry.  You'll enjoy your stay.”
—Lucia St. Clair Robson, New York Times bestselling author of Last Train from Cuernavaca, winner of the Spur Award

“Steven Raichlen presents a kaleidoscope of personalities with insight and compassion, while reminding us that good food, prepared with love, may not heal all wounds, but it can't hurt and it often helps. A splendid beach read!”
—Mary Doria Russell, Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of Thread of Grace and Doc

“For the millions who know Steven Raichlen as the last word on barbecue, it might come as a surprise to discover that he has written a beautifully wrought, highly nuanced novel set amidst the distinctive landscape of Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts.   What won’t surprise anyone, though, is that central to the compelling narrative of Island Apart is the redemptive power of food and a mindfully prepared meal.  Claire Doheney, healing from a serious illness at a friend’s oceanfront mansion, meets an enigmatic character known locally as the Hermit, and as unlikely as it might seem to both of them, sparks begin to fly over their shared passion for cooking, and love ensues.  All of this is threatened when Claire unravels the secret of the Hermit’s strange circumstances.  Raichlen has moved deftly into the world of fiction, and I, for one, can’t wait for his next creation!”
—Mitchell Kaplan, Founder and owner of Books & Books, Florida, New York, Cayman Islands

“I didn't want to put it down.  I was so intrigued by the Hermit—couldn't wait to find out what his story was and how the relationship would develop.   I loved all of the history and island lore; I adored the food theme and scenes throughout the book.   I also love the fact that there's a lot to talk about with this book, and that makes it good fodder for book clubs.  I can't wait to have Island Apart in the store.”
—Sandy Francis, co-owner of The Bookstore in The Grove, Miami, Florida 

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765332387
Publisher:
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,503,663
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Island Apart


By Steven Raichlen

Forge Books

Copyright © 2012 Steven Raichlen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780765332387

1
the hermit of chappaquiddick
 
 
No one knew his name. Everyone called him the Hermit. He had lived on Chappaquiddick Island for as long as most people could remember. Not that anyone could recall precisely when he had arrived. Perhaps he rode in on the tidal wave of summer folk, which swells the population of Martha’s Vineyard from fifteen thousand year-round residents to more than a hundred thousand in August.
He certainly didn’t look like the typical beachgoer who rode the Chappaquiddick ferry. His wild silvery-gray hair tumbled past his shoulders. A beard as wavy as eelgrass plunged halfway down his chest. The man wore a faded flannel shirt—even in summer—and his jeans had been mended so often, you couldn’t make out where the denim ended and the patches began. His feet were clad in lug boots—even in July. As for the color of his eyes, no one could tell, for he always kept them downcast.
The man boarded the ferry as he always did—a few steps behind the other passengers. He placed his ticket on the binnacle rather than handing it directly to the deckhand. His orange ticket identified him as a year-rounder, but no ferry captain could quite recall selling him a commuter book. The tourists gathered at the front of the boat—a pastel swirl of Lilly Pulitzer and Polo—with sunburns that turned pale New England flesh the electric orange of boiled lobsters. The Hermit stood at the stern, his faded clothes blown by the wind, an island unto himself.
If the Hermit had a car, the ferry captains had never seen it. Nor a bicycle or moped. Invariably, he would arrive at and depart from the ferry landing on foot, a worn backpack patched with duct tape over his shoulder. He’d walk Chappaquiddick Road—the one paved road, the only paved road on the island—in a slow loping gait, oblivious of the joggers and cyclists, unhurried as if lost in thought.
Despite his unvarying route, no one could say for certain exactly where the man lived. Not the ferry captains. Not the FedEx driver or Angie, who delivers the mail in a cherry red Jeep. Not the young woman who runs the tiny Chappy store, the island’s sole retail business, open only in July and August. Not even Gerry Jeffers, rumored to be the last surviving Wampanoag Indian on Chappaquiddick.
This uncertainty as to the Hermit’s domicile was remarkable on two accounts: first because Chappaquiddick is such a small community—fewer than seventy families live here year-round. And second, because everyone on Chappaquiddick obsesses about real estate—whether or not he or she would admit it. Chappaquiddickers are keenly aware of who owns each parcel of land and deeply paranoid that the wrong person will buy the acreage adjacent to theirs. After all, you don’t move to an island with three-acre zoning—without a single hotel or restaurant—unless you want to maintain a healthy distance from your neighbors.
So who first called him the Hermit of Chappaquiddick? Perhaps it was Patrick, a twenty-year veteran of the Chappy ferry. Patrick was the quietest of the captains who piloted the On Time II and On Time III—a pair of green and white barges scarcely big enough to carry three cars and assorted bicycles and foot passengers across the 527-foot channel of water that separates Chappaquiddick Island from Edgartown and the rest of Martha’s Vineyard. Patrick’s mild demeanor hid a wicked sense of humor. He had a nickname for everyone who took the ferry on a more or less regular basis, and no one escaped his wit.
If there was a question as to who coined the Hermit’s nickname, there was no doubt as to why. He never attended Chappy Island Association meetings or ice cream socials at the Community Center. He never appeared at Cleanup Day at the Mytoi Japanese Garden or participated in the Derby—the fishing competition that paralyzes Martha’s Vineyard in the waning days of September. He never showed up at the celebrity-studded Possible Dreams Auction or at the July Fourth parade down Edgartown’s Main Street. The fact is, in the ten or fifteen years the Hermit had lived on the island, he had never been seen in the company of another human being.
Naturally, no one knew what the man did for a living. You might see him with a wire clam basket in Caleb’s Pond from time to time, or with a fishing rod at the Gut. Or wading in the shallow waters of Drunkard’s Cove—site of a Martha’s Vineyard bootleg operation during Prohibition—to gather periwinkles and scungilli. He owned a skiff, which he sometimes rowed on Cape Poge Bay. Early mornings in July, you might see him picking blueberries in the meadow at Wasque Point. But he didn’t seem to be a commercial fisherman, and no one had ever seen him bring produce—either foraged or cultivated—to the local farmers’ market.
When the Hermit felt sociable—that is, when he was willing to run the risk of encountering other people—he gigged for squid off the ferry dock late at night or caught crabs with a hoop net baited with fish scraps. Most often, he kept to himself. He’d build simple weirs in Chappaquiddick’s salt marshes to catch eels that slithered liked sea snakes. He had set up a series of sluices and pans in a neglected corner of Poucha Pond, where he evaporated seawater into salt crystals. No one on the island had any inkling of the latter activity, for despite his ungainly appearance, the Hermit possessed a singular ability to blend into the landscape.
On the rare times when spoken to—“Nice weather” or “How’s it going?”—he responded in such a low voice and in such vague terms, you had the impression you were talking to yourself. Not that anyone was aware of these evasions, for the Hermit did them in such an unassuming manner, no one paid them any heed.
The truth is that the Hermit managed to achieve the ultimate goal of any recluse. Thanks to his perpetually hunched shoulders and perennially downcast gaze, even his fellow Chappaquiddickers had long since ceased noticing him.
If you’re quiet and self-effacing enough, you become invisible—perhaps even to yourself.


 
Copyright © 2012 by Steven Raichlen


Continues...

Excerpted from Island Apart by Steven Raichlen Copyright © 2012 by Steven Raichlen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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