Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Island Apart by Steven Raichlen

Title: Island Apart
Author: Steven Raichlen
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Tom Doherty
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like interesting characters.
  • You like vivid cities.
What's the Story?:

From "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?"

My Two Cents:

This book is amazing! Let me just give you a little taste of what you're in for with this book:

"We're all wounded in some way," he said. "It's not what you have that makes you beautiful. It's what you've lost and still managed to go on living without."

How perfect is that quote? You may want to read it right now and that's okay. But there's more! This book really has a little bit of something for everyone. There's great characters (the two main characters, Claire and the Hermit, are heartbreaking and wonderful and so real). I really, really loved these characters. They're so tragic in their own way and they come together for something really beautiful. There's food! Claire and the Hermit are both wonderful cooks and make things that make you want to lick the pages just so you might get the tiniest taste of what they're cooking. There's a good love story with a great lesson. There's a mystery! See, there's really a little bit of something for everyone.

There's also a great setting. Chappaquiddick is where it's set, which before this book was only known to me as the place where Ted Kennedy had that car accident which killed a young woman. Fun fact: I have a newspaper front page from when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, which happened to be right around when Kennedy had the accident so there is a story on the same front page about that. Kind of creepy, no? Anyhow, what I love about the setting is that from the way that it is written about, you can tell that the author really knows the place. He does a great job of making it come alive.

Now I loved the story but there were a couple things that I didn't get about the story. I don't want to give anything away (you all still really, really need to read this book). First, why didn't Claire do something besides mope when she found on the big twist? I thought that she would take more action. Why didn't Sylvie try to make amends? Would you really send a letter like that? I didn't fully understand the motivations behind the characters, which took me out of the story a little bit.

That being said, this book is still pretty fabulous. This is the book that you get lost in. It's the one where you make sure you have a ton of time to devote to it because you know that you aren't going to want to stop reading it for awhile.



  1. That quote is beautiful, but how was the writing overall? I don't particularly like love stories (or cooking) and the synopsis really didn't do anything for me - but the quote did. So if the prose is beautiful I may give this a try.

    1. Let's put it this way, the book definitely had moments of writing brilliance but it wasn't throughout all of the book!

  2. I love that quote. This sounds like my kind of story!


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