Audiobook Review: ISLAND APART by Steven Raichlen

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Format: Audio; 6 CDs (6 hr, 38 min)
Narrator: Susan Boyce
Publisher: Forge Books/AudioGO
Released: June 5, 2012
Source: Borrowed from the library

From the celebrated author of Planet Barbecue and How to Grill comes a surprising story of love, loss, redemption, and really good food.

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?

Told by a New York Times bestselling author and international TV host with a keen eye for Chappaquiddick’s extraordinary natural beauty, Island Apart has it all—romance, history, travel, crime, lovemaking of exquisite intensity, and cooking scenes so vivid, they’ll make your taste buds ache with hunger. Steven Raichlen’s novel is a smart love story—not to mention a terrific beach read. Think The Bridges of Madison County with better food.

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ISLAND APART has been on my wish list since last year, and when I saw the audiobook at the library, I snatched it up. The cover screams “light beach read,” but I was thrilled to discover that it went much deeper. Colorful characters, a magnificent setting, and an unusual love story made this book a memorable read. Oh, and the food! I can’t forget the delectable descriptions of dishes that kept me drooling page after page.

Claire is a likable character and easy to sympathize with. She’s a smart, strong woman going through a very rough time in her life. She’s just divorced a deadbeat, cheating husband, she has a strained relationship with her college-age daughter, and she’s battling a serious illness. Claire’s closest friends offer her the use of their summer home on gorgeous Chappaquiddick Island while she recovers. Who would say no to that? Not me!

Not long after moving in, Claire meets a strange, reclusive man known as the Hermit. The way they met and how their relationship developed was so unique! (Here’s where all that scrumptious food comes in, but that’s all I’m going to say.)  The Hermit has a tragic past of his own, which caused him to withdraw from society, that is until Claire comes into his life. When Claire discovers his secret, their fragile new relationship is threatened.

I enjoyed how the author wove the history and local lore of Chappaquiddick into the story, from the colonial days, to the tragedy on the bridge in 1969, through the island today. I consider myself an armchair traveler, and the rich descriptions of this place made me feel like a local.

ISLAND APART is a bittersweet tale I won’t soon forget. I got misty-eyed a few times, especially at the end. No man is an island…

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Susan Boyce. I enjoyed her performance. She captured Claire’s persona beautifully, and her male voices were good too.

Rating: 4 Stars

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