The Harbormaster's Daughter

( 5 )

Overview

The story of a mother and daughter in an idyllic Cape Cod town...

On a freezing January night, LaRee Farnham answers a knock at her door to find a policewoman holding three-year-old Vita Gray, whose mother has just been murdered a few miles away. LaRee raises Vita with fierce love and attention, at the same time trying to shield her from the aftermath of the murder, which has deeply divided the histoiric village of Oyster Creek.

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The Harbormaster's Daughter

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Overview

The story of a mother and daughter in an idyllic Cape Cod town...

On a freezing January night, LaRee Farnham answers a knock at her door to find a policewoman holding three-year-old Vita Gray, whose mother has just been murdered a few miles away. LaRee raises Vita with fierce love and attention, at the same time trying to shield her from the aftermath of the murder, which has deeply divided the histoiric village of Oyster Creek.

Born out of wedlock, Vita is the product of the town's two very different cultures: the hard-working fishing families of Portuguese descent and the "washashores" from the mainland, who've drifted to the coast for its beauty. At sixteen, Vita is shy and isolated, estranged from her father, and bullied at school, but she is determined to come out of herself, step-by-step.

When the shocking details of her past surface suddenly, Vita feels utterly betrayed by those closest to her, and the fraught tension between Oyster Creek's two cultures comes to a head. LaRee must ask hard questions about herself as a mother, while Vita turns to unexpected avenues to find meaning and discovers that the truth is almost never found in black-and-white...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Schmidt (The House on Oyster Creek) returns to Cape Cod to examine the turbulent times of Franco, the bitter 47-year-old assistant harbormaster who is part of the insular Portuguese community that exists in constant tension with the wealthy summer tourists. A brief affair with a tourist named Sabine results in an unexpected pregnancy and trouble for Franco. But things get worse when, four years later, Sabine is murdered, making Franco, a married man, the primary suspect. Their three-year-old daughter, Vita, who knows nothing of her real father, goes to live with Sabine’s friend in a small town, where she grows up and is sheltered from the news of her mother’s real killer being found. But when the killer commits suicide in jail, she’s forced to confront both her past and her present, finding support with a local gang of misfits in a local theater company. Schmidt paints a colorful picture of the Massachusetts Cape and its people. She understands the struggles of adolescence and compounds them skillfully with the stifling nature of smalltown life. However, the central relationship—between Vita and Franco—isn’t given much attention, resulting in a story that feels at times without a center. Agent: Jennifer Carlson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Rave Reviews for The House on Oyster Creek

"Expertly explores the complexities of domestic life and the tug of forbidden love."-Elizabeth Strout, New York Times Bestselling Author of Olive Kitteridge

"Superior literary fiction."-Library Journal

"Subtly nuanced, beautifully crafted prose...Schmidt delivers a thoughtful, realistically complicated exploration on love, marriage, friendship, and community."-John Charles, Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451237873
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 964,536
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Heidi Jon Schmidt is the author of The Rose Thieves, Darling?, The Bride of Catastrophe, and The House on Oyster Creek. Her stories and essays have been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Grand Street, Yankee, and featured on National Pubic Radio. She has won awards including the O'Henry, Ingram-Merrill, and James Michener awards. She teaches in the Workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center and lives with her husband, Roger Skillings, and their daughter, Marisa Rose.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    THANKS!!!!

    These reviews helped out a lot!!!!!! I really want to read this book! I probably won't buy it, but I wil definitely be on the lookout for it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Enjoyed it--good summer read

    Interesting view from the victim's daughter and friend that brought up the daughter perspectives but unless you are familiar with the story behind it or are not from the area it would be a little hard to understand what is happening. I was left with wanting more to be written but maybe that leaves it open for another book to be written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    What's it like to be disliked and even bullied for being who you

    What's it like to be disliked and even bullied for being who you are?
    How does one escape one's association with shame and murder? How well
    can someone else substitute for the genuine presence of a mother and
    father? These are all very real questions in this story about a young
    girl who has absolutely no idea of why she is viewed as so very
    different from the other girls in her small seaside town of Oyster Creek
    in Massachusetts. All in all, she's sad, angry, and very confused about
    it all! For initially, she doesn't know the whole story of how her real
    father became so disgruntled with his being passed over for the job of
    Harbormaster that he dallies with a woman, Sabine, and rejects her when
    she becomes pregnant. That would be terrible enough but when her
    daughter, Vita, is very young, Sabine is murdered! Vita is sent to live
    with LaRee Farnham and doesn't know about her father for quite a few
    years. So continues this story that often rambles through Vita's very
    real mental and emotional suffering about her past and her future and
    then passes to the exposure of the truth and everyone else's attempt to
    make things "normal" again. But life is never that easy, and
    Vita is never as comfortable as she is when she's watching theater or
    participating in it. Still LaRee is doing the best she can, and Vita is
    coming to find her own comfortable identity through this difficult
    process. There are also some other issues floating through the book,
    one about some snooty villagers who have always lived in this fisherman
    community and view all outsiders as "foreigners" and make them
    know it in speech and attitude as well. While this may seem an aside,
    it quite clearly parallels the experience of Franco and his wife,
    Sabine, LaRee, and Vita. It's not as far from our world as one may
    think and this book will make you think about your own backyard!
    Although there's some choppiness to the plot in certain parts where one
    is not sure what's going on, overall this is a fine read, and Heidi Jon
    Schmidt knows her topic and characters well. Different but more
    powerful for its everyday, ordinary, real qualities! Give it a read!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A look at the haves/have-nots blended into a murder mystery

    This new book by Heidi Jon Schmidt is a pleasing page-turner that takes place in Oyster Creek, a small town in Massachusetts. This village on Cape Cod is the same spot her first book, The House on Oyster Creek, was set which served as a reminder of the people and their problems in this part of New England. In the beginning of The Harbormaster's Daughter, Franco Neves, the assistant harbormaster is just a little bitter because the previous harbormaster has retired and Franco thought he was next in line for the job. Franco is of Portuguese descent and has lived on the harbor for many years and he was sure that when the harbormaster retired he would automatically get the job. Well, it didn’t work out that way as the powers that be felt that the wealthy summer tourist trade needed a harbormaster who fit the magazine rendition of the job (i.e. handsome, rugged, inclined to pat men on the back and flirt with the women). Franco went on to have a brief affair with Sabine, a tourist, that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy and a lot of trouble for Franco. A few years later Sabine was killed and Franco became suspect number one. Their daughter, Vita, who doesn’t know who her father is, is sent to live with LaRee, a friend of Sabine’s where she grows up without knowing about her past. Then, of course, the past starts to surface when Vita is a teenager and she feels betrayed by her adopted mother and all the friends who knew the secret of her past and never said anything to her. Vita is determined to come into her own and become more independent as the two cultures (Portuguese and the summer tourists) come to a head. The author tries to tell a tale of tragic vs. hopeful, a young girl trying to find her way in the world that was taken from her, and a father and mother who she didn't really know. Then add in a mystery of the child, Vita, trying to find out who killed her mother and why. At times, the plot was so complicated that it was difficult to pin any one thing or person down. Overall, however, it was an enjoyable story and I’m sure there are many people who will like this book, especially the passages about life on Cape Cod. Quill Says: A very considerate and thoughtful story of life on the small Massachusetts Cape and the two cultures that make up the area (the haves and the have-nots).

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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