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A Well-Told Tale with a Unique Setting
on August 18, 2011
I have never been to Martha's Vineyard, though I have long wanted to visit. Reading Cynthia Riggs' book gave me a sense of what the Island (always capitalized) is like, and now I want to visit more than ever.
I quite enjoyed several aspects of this book. First, I loved 92-year-old Victoria Trumbull as a no-nonsense, decidedly non-cozy New Englander. The characterization felt real to me; Victoria doesn't work at being "quirky," or "feisty," or "wacky," or any of those other stereotypes generally thrown at the elderly. She's well connected but doesn't know everyone on the Island. (I thought that was a particularly nice touch, as I can imagine that most people think, "Oh, everyone on Martha's Vineyard knows everyone else, of course." Or what I call the "Three Pines Syndrome.") Finally, as one who feels taxed to death, I quite liked the casting of the town's property tax assessors as the villains they generally are. The pacing is pleasant, the characters charming but not treacly. And there are a couple of nice red herrings and subplots.
That said, the assessors themselves are a little over the top and strain the boundaries of believability. I also never quite figured out the relationship between Delilah and her husband, or what exactly "Darcy's" role is in the book. (I sense that he is a recurring character, but he seems misplaced here, except perhaps as a suspect.) Honestly, I thought the title was a bit hokey when I first picked up the book, but it does make sense once you've completed the book (and relies on double meaning). Overall, a pleasant read - a bit slow to start, but quite enjoyable once you're into it.