Two old friends, troubled by present crises and past mistakes, reunite on an island off the coast of Maine.
It’s been 10 years since Nicole, a food blogger, has seen her best friend, Charlotte. The separation is due in part to the women’s divergent life paths. Nicole married Julian, a prominent pediatric surgeon and sought-after consultant, and is stepmother to his two children. Charlotte travels the world on magazine assignments. Now, Nicole is at her parents’ summer home on Quinnipeague Island, publishing contract in hand, preparing to write a cookbook on local cuisine. She is also there to ready the place to sell after her father’s sudden passing. When Nicole summons Charlotte to Quinnipeague to help with the book, Charlotte has reservations due to a secret she has harbored for years: Shortly before Nicole’s wedding, she had a drunken one-night stand with Julian. A pregnancy resulted; the child was given up for adoption. Sharing the seaside house while Julian is away, Charlotte and Nicole bond once more over the challenges of wresting recipes from the crusty islanders and over best-selling beach read Salt. When told that Leo, son of a reputed witch, refuses to divulge the magical lore of his mother’s herb farm, Charlotte, who cannot resist an unwilling interview subject, seeks him out. At first blush an eccentric recluse, Leo proves to be not only a dead ringer for Salt’s romantic hero, but also its pseudonymous author, which explains that new sailboat and those expensive renovations to his weather-beaten house. Charlotte is distracted from their blossoming romance by a moral dilemma: Julian, Nicole reveals, has MS and wants to try an experimental and dangerous stem cell treatment protocol. Nicole is opposed to the risky procedure, but when Charlotte reveals how and why she has access to just the genetically compatible umbilical stem cells Julian might need, the friendship is threatened. The result: promising complications, rendered less than compelling by plodding, talky narration.
Despite some appetizing menu items, pretty standard fare.