The year is 1944. After the stillbirth of her first child, Evangeline Worth returns to her grandmother's farm in Hawke's Cove. with her husband, John, across the Atlantic on the war front, the coastal town provides sanctuary for Vangie. All of that changes one day when a handsome stranger appears on her doorstep, searching for work.
Joe Green looks able enough, and though she wonders why he isn't in the service, Vangie takes him in on instinct. As a rich friendship develops between them, the Army informs Vangie that John is MIA. At the same time, rumors in town circulate about a downed Hellcat plane and its missing pilot. Smoothing away their loneliness, Vangie and Joe feel their relationship deepening into a forbidden love. Then John is suddenly found alive, and the lovers separatebut cannot bear to sever their bond.
Fifty years later, Vangie's son Charlie, a reporter, is assigned to unlock the puzzle of a dredged-up Hellcat. He heads to Hawke's Cove to investigate, and meets respected local Joe Green and his daughter Maggie. As a romantic relationship blossoms between Charlie and Maggie, Vangie and Joe realize that they must open up the pastand the secrets of their hearts.
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About the Author
From the time I was a little girl, the word "writer" held a special significance to me. I loved the word. I loved the idea of making up stories. When I was about twelve, I bought a used Olivetti manual typewriter from a little hole in the wall office machine place in Middletown, CT called Peter's Typewriters. It weighed about twenty pounds and was probably thirty years old. I pounded out the worst kind of adolescent drivel, imposing my imaginary self on television heroes of the time: Bonanza, Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek.
Those are my earliest memories of my secret life of writing. For reasons I cannot really fathom, I never pursued writing as a vocation. Although I majored in English, I didn't focus on writing and it wasn't really until I was first married that I hauled out my old Olivetti and began to thump away at my first novel. This was, as I recall, an amorphous thinly plotted excercise in putting sentences together and has mercifully disappeared in some move or another. I didn't try anything more adventurous than some short stories and a lot of newsletters for various things I belonged to until we moved to Martha's Vineyard and I bought my first computer. My little "Collegiate 2" IBM computer was about as advanced as the Olivetti was in its heyday but it got me writing again and this time with some inner determination that I was going to succeed at this avocation. I tapped out two novels on this machine with its fussy little printer. Like the first one, these were wonderful absorbing exercises in learning how to write.
What happened then is the stuff of day time soap opera. Writing is a highly personal activity and for all of my life I'd kept it secret from everyone but my husband, who, at the time, called what I did nights after the kids went to bed, my "typing." Until, quite by accident, I discovered that here on the Vineyard nearly everyone has some avocation in the arts. Much to my delight, I discovered a fellow closet-writer in the mom of my kids' best friends. For the very first time in my life I could share the struggle with another person. I know now that writers' groups are a dime a dozen and I highly recommend the experience, but with my friend Carole, a serendipitious introduction to a "real writer", Holly Nadler, resulted in my association with my agent. Holly read a bit of my "novel" and liked what she read, suggested I might use her name and write to her former agent. I did and the rest, as they say, is history.
Not that it was an overnight success. The novel I'd shown Holly never even got sent to Andrea. But a third, shorter, more evolved work was what eventually grew into Beauty with the guidance of Andrea and her associates at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.
The moral of the story: keep at it. Keep writing the bad novels to learn how to write the good ones. And, yes, it does help to know someone. Andrea might have liked my work, but the path was oiled by the introduction Holly Nadler provided.
Hawke's Cove is my second published novel, although there is a "second" second novel in a drawer, keeping good company with the other "first" novels.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter One: Charlie -- 1993
Charlie Worth leaned back in his ergonomically correct desk chair and shot a wad of paper at the wastebasket with an over-the-shoulder hook shot. He missed, and the crumpled memo joined a flock of others surrounding the metal can. This presidential-vacation thing was getting out of hand. Priscilla the Killer kept coming up with more and more stupid angles to write about, and this one was worse than the suggestion about interviewing people in Kennebunkport to see if they could give the people of Great Harbor any good advice vis-à-vis presidents on vacation.
Charlie was determined to be the only feature writer not camping out in Great Harbor for the proposed visit. Besides, he kept pointing out to any who would listen, the Clintons would probably choose the Vineyard. Heck of a lot better golf to be had there than anywhere near this hole-in-the-wall vacation destination. Now, if the Clintons did go to the Vineyard, maybe he'd tag along. At thirty-nine, there were few places Charlie hadn't been to during his journalistic career: Beirut, Saint Petersburg when it had been Leningrad, and London as a correspondent for the Globe. He'd been to most every Caribbean island, Belize, and rugged Alaskan camps while he'd done a five-year stint as a travel writer. This feature-writer thing, though, was alternately fun and boring. Craving a settled existence, Charlie had given up the travel for the post, sacrificing adventure for a stable home with a garden he could enjoy through all of its seasons. After eighteen months, though, Charlie found himself daydreaming of chucking the whole security thing and following in the footstepsof the great travel writers, immersing himself in some rare culture, then writing a whiz-bang best-selling memoir.
But even as he played with the notion, Charlie knew that one thing kept him close to home. The same thing that had brought him back to the paper and a desk with a once-a-week byline. His aging parents.
Charlie got up and stretched, reaching for the ceiling. On the way down, he rubbed his hands across his middle in the hope that it had gone away. Leaning over the keyboard, he sent a quick E-mail to his buddy Dave in Sports to get a racquetball date set up. Conscience momentarily salved, he headed towards the coffeepot. As luck would have it, Priscilla St. Lorraine was on her way to his cubicle and caught him before he could take a quick right towards the men's room, which, so far, she hadn't yet invaded.
"Charlie, have I got a story for you!"
"How nice." Charlie smiled, recalling that, in the rarefied code of southern women, "How nice" meant "Fuck you."
Priscilla launched into her story idea, something about an old plane wreck discovered in the waters off Great Harbor during the routine aerial survey prior to the potential visit by the president and his family. It was only when Priscilla told him where the plane had been barged that Charlie's interest was piqued a little.
When Charlie was little, maybe eight or nine, he and his older sisters had found a Jumping-Jacks shoe box filled with uncatalogued photos. Most of the photos had quasi-familiar adults in them, people they called by the honorific Aunt or Uncle. Uncle Jack, who was Daddy's partner, and his wife, Aunt Joan, dressed up in party clothes, martini glasses held up to toast some New Year long ago. There were pictures of their parents, looking odd in their old-fashioned hairstyles and out-of-date clothes. Charlie couldn't reconcile his father with this boy with thick blond hair.
Three or four of the pictures had an ocean background. One, a very old sepia print, was of a young woman in a hat, a small terrier standing near her, a barn behind her, the doors half open.
"That's Gran the first year she lived at Hawke's Cove." Vangie had come upon her children, the scattered pictures surrounding them on the worn oriental carpet. "What are you kids up to here?" Vangie sat down beside Charlie and began gathering up the photos. As she collected them, she began to tell Amanda, Julie, and Charlie who was who and what occasion each photo captured. Charlie vividly remembered the feel of her thick, still-auburn braid touching his cheek as she reached past him to pick out one photo. A thin, bearded man stood holding one end of a line of fish. A crew-cut, heavier-set man stood at the other. They both wore pleased grins.
"Who's these guys?" Charlie asked.
"Who are these guys." The correction purely reflexive. "That's Ernie Dubee." She tapped the crew-cut man's face. "He was our police chief in Hawke's Cove."
"Who is this one?" Charlie touched the face of the other man with his small forefinger.
"That's Joe. Joe Green. He worked for me on the farm in Hawke's Cove." There was something in her voice that made all three children look at her just in time to see a small, private smile tease her lips.
His mother reached into the cluster of old photos and picked up another one. Charlie leaned against her arm and looked at a picture of a man standing near the barn, a small, pleased smile on his face. "Is that Joe Green too?"
In the way of childhood memories, it was distinct in his mind that his mother only nodded and put the photo in her apron pocket.
That was the first time Charlie would hear about Hawke's Cove and the time his mother spent there during the war.
"So, Mom, what do you remember about Hawke's Cove?"
Evangeline Worth smiled spontaneously at the name. "I remember how the air smelled in the morning, the feel of the wet grass on my bare feet. I remember how brilliant..."
"Mom, I asked you, not Evangeline Worth, 'Poet to the People.' Just tell me."
"Tell you what? Stories? You've heard all of them."
"No. Actually, I need to know if you remember a specific incident. A plane crash."
Vangie was glad this conversation was taking place on the phone. That way the sudden shaking in her hands wouldn't frighten Charlie into thinking she'd developed a tremor. "What plane crash?"
She knew, even before Charlie began to tell her. She knew that the Hellcat had been found. As he told her about the presidential vacation and the sonar survey, she felt her mind wander back over half a century. Her mouth twitched in a little self-derisive smile. After this long, which secret needed the most safekeeping? Did it really matter anymore where Joe had come from? What mattered was only that he'd come and her life had been sweetened.
Copyright © 2000 by Susan Wilson
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have given this book five stars because it was so easy to read and follow. Much of the book is written in journal form. Vangie and Joe are believable characters and the story is truly unique. Susan Wilson is an author whose books deserve a looksee. This one would be good for summer reading or a winter's curl up by the fire.
In 1944, Evangeline Worth is distraught as her oldest son just died and her spouse John remains overseas fighting in the European Theater of Operation. To get away from her troubles, Vangie heads to her favorite spot in the world, her deceased grandmother¿s farm in HAWKE¿S COVE New England. A plane went down near Hawke Cove and the pilot is missing. At the same time, Joe Greene enters Vangie¿s life just as she learns that John is MIA. Joe and Vangie begin to fall in love as they comfort one another. They eventually learn that John is found alive. In 1993, Vangie¿s reporter son Charlie investigates the World War II plane found in the cove. His inquiries introduce him to Joe and the man¿s daughter Maggie. Charlie and Maggie are attracted to one another, forcing five-decade old secrets to be revealed. HAWKE¿S COVE is a complex romance that centers on the concept that love is an eternal energy that changes but never is depleted. The various approaches to the narration may throw some readers off, but actually adds to the depth of the tale. The characters are all warm and their motives feel genuine. Susan Wilson shows her abilities as she weaves two stories into one with the touch of a master magician. Harriet Klausner