North of the Tension Line

J.F. Riordan. Beaufort (beaufortbooks.com), $24.95 (350p) ISBN 978-0-8253-0734-8
A remote island in northern Lake Michigan provides an evocative setting for Riordan's clumsy but well-meaning debut novel about a young woman who settles "north of the tension line" on a whim. Freelance writer Fiona Campbell delights in the "pristine serenity" of picturesque Ephraim, Wisc., a time capsule from the 1850s, and decides to buy a rundown house on nearby Washington Island. Soon she's fixing the place up with the help of Elizabeth, an old college friend who just happens to run a gallery in Ephraim, while her spiteful neighbor Stella schemes to get rid of her. As Fiona vacillates between enjoying the isolation and feeling cut off, the author adds the story of Elizabeth's budding romance with a misanthropic coffee shop owner. While the landscape is lovely, Fiona and Elizabeth seem much older than their stated early 30s, and the ending is rushed, leaving both women dependent on others for their happiness in this quiet story of characters tethered by inertia. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 350 pages - 978-0-8253-0667-9
Paperback - 478 pages - 978-0-8253-0829-1
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