cover image Island Apart

Island Apart

Steven Raichlen. Forge, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3238-7

Renowned for his bestselling cookbook titles, Massachusetts author Raichlen (Planet Barbecue!), moves into fiction with the story of a solitary, unkempt beachcomber known as “the Hermit” who has lived on Chappaquiddick Island for the past 10 years. When New York City editor Claire Doheney comes to stay there with her friends Sheila and Elliott Feinblat, Claire soon meets the Hermit and they strike up a friendship based on their mutual loves of books and cooking. Middle-aged Claire is going through a rough patch, divorcing her philandering professor husband, Harrison, and completing chemotherapy after a double mastectomy. The Hermit and Claire’s relationship deepens into a sensual romance, despite her wry comment about “making love to a board.” After Claire learns the Hermit’s entire mysterious story, she suspects she may have picked the wrong man again. Devastated, she seeks out the sympathetic support of Sheila, throws herself into her editing work, and deals with her rebellious daughter, Molly. Neatly placed twists enable Claire to find her bearings again, but while there’s sadness and redemption, the star of the novel is Raichlen’s vivid depiction of Chappaquiddick beach life paired with some great food. 1`(June)