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Island Apart Hardcover – June 5, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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About the Author

STEVEN RAICHLEN is a multi-award-winning author, journalist, and television host. His twenty-nine books include the international blockbusters The Barbecue Bible, How to Grill, and the New York Times bestselling Planet Barbecue. His books have won five James Beard Awards and have been translated into 16 languages. Island Apart is his first novel. A former Watson Foundation Fellow with a degree in French literature, Raichlen hosts Primal Grill and Barbecue University on PBS and the French language TV show Le Maitre du Grill. He has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio and the Today show. He and his wife, Barbara, divide their time between Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, and Coconut Grove, Florida.


“Rich in character, incident, and mouthwatering food. A triumphant fictional debut.” ―William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Cape Cod and City of Dreams

“Much more than a promising first novel by a formidably talented writer; it is a literary achievement of the first order… a heartfelt, redemptive, and irresistible novel. Raichlen handles this complex tale of romance, family, illness, and dark secrets with intelligence, grace, and abiding tenderness.” ―John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass

“A quirky, surprising, and poignant romance, with a wonderful voice all its own. Readers beware: the food in this novel will leave you ravenous.” ―Barbara D'Amato, Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Other Eyes

“Steven Raichlen has written a magical novel about a magical place. He deftly captures the subtleties, oddities, and beguiling charm of Martha's Vineyard and Chappaquiddick. Take this literary ferry. You'll enjoy your stay.” ―Lucia St. Clair Robson, New York Times bestselling author of Last Train from Cuernavaca, winner of the Spur Award

“Steven Raichlen presents a kaleidoscope of personalities with insight and compassion, while reminding us that good food, prepared with love, may not heal all wounds, but it can't hurt and it often helps. A splendid beach read!” ―Mary Doria Russell, Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of Thread of Grace and Doc

“For the millions who know Steven Raichlen as the last word on barbecue, it might come as a surprise to discover that he has written a beautifully wrought, highly nuanced novel set amidst the distinctive landscape of Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts. What won't surprise anyone, though, is that central to the compelling narrative of Island Apart is the redemptive power of food and a mindfully prepared meal. Claire Doheney, healing from a serious illness at a friend's oceanfront mansion, meets an enigmatic character known locally as the Hermit, and as unlikely as it might seem to both of them, sparks begin to fly over their shared passion for cooking, and love ensues. All of this is threatened when Claire unravels the secret of the Hermit's strange circumstances. Raichlen has moved deftly into the world of fiction, and I, for one, can't wait for his next creation!” ―Mitchell Kaplan, Founder and owner of Books & Books, Florida, New York, Cayman Islands

“I didn't want to put it down. I was so intrigued by the Hermit―couldn't wait to find out what his story was and how the relationship would develop. I loved all of the history and island lore; I adored the food theme and scenes throughout the book. I also love the fact that there's a lot to talk about with this book, and that makes it good fodder for book clubs. I can't wait to have Island Apart in the store.” ―Sandy Francis, co-owner of The Bookstore in The Grove, Miami, Florida


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765332388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765332387
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,990,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you aren't a big fan of Nicholas Sparks, you're not likely going to enjoy Island Apart. Chef Steven Raichlen's debut work of fiction shares the story of Claire Doheney. Claire is undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband is having affairs with much younger women and has just lost his job as a professor after having sexual relations with students. When he insists that he's moving back to their shared apartment, Claire learns that she's helpless to stop him. She opts to take up her best friend's offer and becomes the live-in caretaker for her friend's house on Chappaquiddick Island. The setting is perfect for Claire's recuperation and her job as an editor.

Known by locals as "the Hermit," a stranger also lives in solitude on the island. After a freak accident brings Claire into his life, the pair soon start communication through baked and jarred goods. Soon, Claire and the Hermit fall in love. There are secrets, however, that could destroy the very foundations of their relationship.

I admit to being a sucker for the Nicholas Sparks-type tearjerker. Therefore, there was a lot I loved in Island Apart. There were also things I didn't feel fit perfectly, hence why I can't say it's the "perfect read." A large portion of the story focuses on the foods Claire and the Hermit make. There's also a lot of focus on the book Claire is currently editing, a biography about Wilhelm Reich. I understand the importance of that part of the novel, but I can't say I liked it.

The romance was the key focus for me. Claire and the Hermit both harbor wounds and watching them overcome past pain was exactly what this romantic at heart loved. All in all, I'm pretty impressed with Raichlen's debut.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Island Apart
Steven Raichlen

My " in a nutshell" summary...

Claire goes to Martha's Vineyard to recover from a very serious illness...she meets the Chappaquiddick hermit...entanglements ensue!

My thoughts after reading this book...

Heaven on earth...that describes this one. Who knew the barbecue king...this author...had this kind of story telling in him?
I loved every single lovely sentence. The island descriptions, daily life on the island, the food, the books, the locals...sigh...yum...so pleasurable!
I was caught up in this story with the first few pages I read. There are sweet delightful characters and serious characters and quirky characters and all of them are caught up in life on the island. And...all of them are involved with the lovely Claire. The food descriptions alone will capture you, seriously. Foraged, organic, divine dinners and desserts are a huge part of Claire's life and the Hermit's. This book is a story of healing and it unfolded beautifully.

What I loved the most...

The budding relationship between Claire and the Hermit...their exchanges...their notes...their love for real food. I loved the fact that underneath all of the flannel and fuzz...the Hermit was a true hunk! I also loved the way the "juicy bits" in the story were shared...this is no Fifty Shades...it is sweet and lovely! I loved Wrench...Claire's daughter's boyfriend...he was priceless!

What I did not love...

I did not love the way everyone other than Claire treated the Hermit...sad.
I did not love the fate of the poor whale or the lobsters...lol. I didn't really like Claire's daughter at the beginning, either. Nor was I fond of her lecherous cheating soon to be ex husband. He was sleazy...seriously so.

My final thoughts...

Oh my...I laughed...I cried...but I ultimately loved this novel! I truly think that you will, too!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book grabbed me in the beginning. The characters were interesting and some a bit mysterious. The use of food and cooking added a lot to the story line and character development. Unfortunately, when the two main characters got together, the "hermit" seemed to cave in and become quite weak and uninteresting. Claire's health battle seemed to be skimmed over rather than used to further develop their relationship. Then the book was over with everything tied up neatly - a bit too neatly. So, an okay read with nice island descriptions.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its interesting characters, their flaws and strengths. The multiple layers of lives weaving together easily. Most books require you to jump back and forth to keep track of the different people. This wasn't an issue with Stevens book. It was one of those books I couldn't put down once I started it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed how the history of Chappaquiddick and snippets from the life of Wilhelm Reich were woven into this story about Claire and "The Hermit."

I also liked the mellow mood. In spite of a few conflicts among some of the characters, the overall mood left me feeling tranquil and peaceful. Perhaps that was partly because of the many descriptions of foraging for food or preparing meals.

Island Apart would be a wonderful book to read at any beach; possibly even more meaningful if one were vacationing on Martha's Vineyard (although the author warns against visiting Chappaquiddick in the afterword).

There is a bibliography at the back listing book titles about the following subjects: History of Chappaquiddick and Martha's Vineyard, Breast Cancer, Wild Plants, William Reich, Voyage of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold aboard the ship "Concord" in 1602, and a cookbook (The Blue Strawberry Cookbook). All of these subjects were integral to the plot (to one degree or another) and all added to the richness of this novel.
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