"There's a tragedy, a love story, and most memorably, an utterly transporting sense of place woven into Osprey Island. Pick it up, and feel like you've taken a holiday from the ordinary." Elle
"Finally, a perfect beach book with a literary bent. . . . The story unfolds slowly, letting the reader take in Nissen's carefully crafted prose, but gains momentum at the end, when everything comes undone."New York Post
"Nissen is particularly good at describing painful obsessive passion. . . . She is a sincere and talented writer."Newsday
"Nissen's feel for character, for the inarticulate layers beneath the surface, assist her in bringing to life some truly memorable souls."–The Miami Herald
“Much like the great Joyce Carol Oates, Thisbe Nissen creates an exclusive world peopled with both the young and the old…Nissen’s writing is calm and poetic.” —Baltimore City Paper
“Well-crafted…secrets abound in a place where family bonds often go beyond blood relations.” —The Chicago Tribune
"Finally, a perfect beach book with a literary bent. . . . The story unfolds slowly, letting the reader take in Nissen's carefully crafted prose, but gains momentum at the end, when everything comes undone."-New York Post
“Incendiary tension, fueled by grief, alcoholism, and island insularity, build to levels so intolerable that one has to fight the urge to read with one eye closed even while tearing through the pages toward the shocking conclusion. Nissen is the kind of writer who sends the reader compulsively in search of everything else she has written.”–Library Journal
“Much like her plain-spoken characters, Nissen is a supremely unfussy voice, arriving at surprising places via deceptively simple routes…as a poignant summer reverie, Osprey Island should no doubt satisfy readers who can’t get away to the beach themselves.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"A perfect summer read."Weekly Dig (Boston)
“Nissen is out to accomplish more than just telling a good yarn. She shows the damage secrets can cause and how years of silence can gather like a tsunami and wash away lives…Engrossing.”Tacoma News-Tribune
Run-down resorts on sparsely populated islands are seldom settings for cheerful tales, and, sure enough, “It was not a good season for the Lodge at Osprey Island.” The owners still mourn the death of their son in Vietnam; their wayward daughter has come home, lured by the promise of free board and babysitting for her young daughter, but resenting every moment she spends there; and the caretakers, a couple perpetually too drunk and wretched to perform even the most basic of their duties, are equally unable to raise their precocious eight-year-old son. When one of the caretakers passes out in the laundry room, cigarette in hand, and dies in the ensuing fire, a fight over who can best look after the boy brings the small community’s few remaining secrets into the open, with predictably miserable consequences for all. Nissen’s characters are not quite clichés, but they always act according to their well-defined types, leaving us saddened but never surprised.
Nissen handles a complicated plot with skill and paints an especially poignant picture of what it means to go home again … By the end of the book, some of Osprey's most painful wounds are lanced, and, in the process, a modicum of justice is done. It's eye-opening for the summer workers at the Lodge, revealing for the islanders and a treat for the reader.
The Washington Post
After a story collection about the dilemmas of individuals (Out of the Girls Room and into the Night) and a debut novel about the difficulties of a modern family (The Good People of New York), Nissen ambitiously takes on the weblike interrelations of an entire community-with imperfect success. The Lodge at Osprey Island has been around so long that, by 1988, the lives of entire families are linked to the resort, including that of alcoholic Lance Squire, whose wife dies suddenly in a fire after falling asleep with a burning cigarette. Havoc soon follows, as Lance becomes increasingly violent and the desire to protect his eight-year-old son, Squee, from abuse unifies the island's population, sparks a romance between the resort owner's daughter, Suzy Chizek, and maintenance worker Roddy Jacobs, and forces the revelation of old affairs, abortions, rape and draft dodging. Nissen's sharp snapshots of family dynamics and her frank depiction of sexuality are affecting, and her novel offers many fine, insightful moments. But the love story, pushed along by frequently adolescent dialogue, never becomes entirely convincing, and the book's plotting is labored, driven by the calculated disclosure of a host of dark secrets. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (July 1) Forecast: This doesn't have the cuteness quotient of Nissen's two previous books, and may be a tougher sell, but Nissen's fans will applaud her effort to extend her reach. 6-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In the summer of 1988, Osprey Island's lodge seems the perfect if slightly seedy hideaway for weary New Yorkers. The Chizeks, owners of the lodge for decades, find their routine preseason prep work derailed by the fiery death of alcoholic Lorna Squire, the slovenly head of housekeeping. Lorna's seriously unstable, equally boozy husband, Lance-mean under the best of circumstances-gives in to the kind of mindless cruelty that is cinematic in its execution. Caught in the crosshairs is the Squires's little boy, Squee, who instinctively seeks protection and comfort from Roddy, the lodge's maintenance man. Unfortunately, Roddy's tentative dance of romance with the Chizeks's daughter serves as a lightning rod for Lance's fury. Roddy's mother, Eden, keeper of island secrets, is at the heart of this fragile balance, which goes sadly askew. Incendiary tensions, fueled by grief, alcoholism, and island insularity, build to levels so intolerable that one has to fight the urge to read with one eye closed even while tearing through the pages toward the shocking conclusion. Nissen (The Good People of New York) is the kind of writer who sends the reader compulsively in search of everything else she has written. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/04; see the Q&A with Nissen at right.-Ed.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Despite flaws, this second from Nissen (The Good People of New York, 2001), about alcohol-sodden year-rounders on a resort island in the Northeast, shows that she can deliver a compelling and layered tale. Osprey Island in the summer of 1988 is home to an inbred ensemble of characters centered on a family-oriented hotel. Bud and Nancy, who run the Lodge, are at odds with their rebellious daughter Suzi, who's vacationing there with her six-year-old daughter, Mia. Lorna and Lance, the Lodge's housekeeper and head of maintenance, seem to be drinking themselves to death while neglecting their son Squee, age eight. Roddy, who grew up with Lance and Suzi but left the island for a while, is back, working at the Lodge. Gavin, a wealthy California kid, has followed his Stanford girlfriend back home to the island to work as a waiter in a Dirty Dancing reversal, only to be dumped for her high-school boyfriend. Brigid and Peg, two young Irishwomen with summer jobs at the Lodge, have come to the island in search of adventure. Nissen starts with some roiling family secrets (Did Roddy go to Vietnam or not? Who's the father of Lorna's child? Of Suzi's? Why does Eden know so much?), adds booze and libido, and sets off impressive fireworks. Suzi is drawn to Roddy; Brigid has her eye on Lance but goes after Gavin. Lorna, drunk, falls asleep with a lit cigarette and dies in the laundry shack as it burns down around her. Unmoored, Lance indulges his violent streak. And, in a particularly well-drawn take on an island's collective awareness, everyone wonders: What will happen to Squee?Sometimes choppy narrative, ditto tiresome dialogue, and ponderous chapter headings ("As They Flee You'd Think They Float onWings") don't quite obscure Nissen's acute sense of the messy ambivalence of love, while her depiction of a child's grief is heartbreaking. A perfectly satisfying if imperfect summertime read. Agent: Eric Simonoff/Janklow & Nesbit