Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess's lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she's cancelled her engagement.
It's only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she's embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store - a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.
But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known.
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|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
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The IslandA Novel
By Hilderbrand, Elin
Reagan Arthur BooksCopyright © 2010 Hilderbrand, Elin
All right reserved.
THE TATE HOUSE
It had sat abandoned for thirteen years. This had happened without warning.
It was a summer house, a cottage, though it had been built well, with high-quality lumber and square-headed steel nails. This was back in 1935, during the Depression. The carpenters had been eager for work; they were careful when aligning the shingles, they sanded, swept, then sanded again with high-grit paper. The banister was as smooth as a satin dress. The carpenters—brought in from Fall River—stood at the upstairs windows and whistled at the views: one bedroom looked out over the mighty ocean, and one bedroom looked out over the bucolic pastures and wide ponds of this, Tuckernuck Island.
The house was occupied only in July and sometimes August. In the other months, there was a caretaker—poking his head in, checking that the windows were tight, removing the small brown carcasses from the mousetraps.
The house had been witness to a wide range of behavior from the members of the family that owned it. They ate and they slept like everyone else; they drank and they danced to music picked up off the shortwave radio. They made love and they fought (yes, the Tates were screamers, one and all; it must have been genetic). They got pregnant and they gave birth; there were children in the house, crying and laughing, drawing on the plaster with crayons, chipping a shingle with a well-hit croquet ball, extinguishing a sneaked cigarette on the railing of the deck.
The house had never caught fire, thank God.
And then, for thirteen years, nobody came. But that wasn’t entirely true. There were field mice and an army of daddy longlegs. There were three bats that flew in through the open attic window, which the family had forgotten to close when they left and which the caretaker had overlooked. The window faced southwest so it deflected the worst of the wind and the rain; it served as an aperture that allowed the house to breathe.
A quartet of mischievous kids broke in through the weak door on the screened-in porch, and for a moment, the house felt optimistic. Humans! Youngsters! But these were trespassers. Though not, thankfully, vandals. They hunted around—finding no food except one can of pork and beans and a cylindrical carton of Quaker oats, rife with weevils (which frightened the girl holding the carton so badly that she dropped it and the oats scattered across the linoleum floor). The kids prodded one another to venture upstairs. Around the island, word was the house was haunted.
Nobody here but me, the house would have said if the house could talk. Well, me and the bats. And the mice. And the spiders!
In one of the bedrooms, the kids found a foot-high sculpture of a man, made from driftwood and shells and beach glass. The man had seaweed hair.
Cool! one of the kids, a boy with red hair and freckles, said. I’m taking this!
That’s stealing, the girl who had dropped the oatmeal said.
The boy set the sculpture down. It’s stupid anyway. Let’s get out of here.
The others agreed. They left, finding nothing more of interest. The toilet didn’t even have water in it.
Again, silence. Emptiness.
Until one day the caretaker used his old key and the front door swung open, groaning on its hinges. It wasn’t the caretaker, but the caretaker’s son, grown up now. He inhaled—the house knew it couldn’t smell terribly good—and patted the door frame with affection.
“They’re coming back,” he said. “They’re coming back.”
Excerpted from The Island by Hilderbrand, Elin Copyright © 2010 by Hilderbrand, Elin. Excerpted by permission.
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