A heartbreaking yet uplifting novel that explores the destruction and beauty of love.
Set between 1875 and ’76, Ducharme’s story—this being the sequel to The Outer Banks House (2010)—is about love and its many faces, from young and reckless to unrequited. Specifically, she explores the unlikely passion that forms between smart, affluent Abigail Sinclair and uneducated, penniless Benjamin Whimble. The people of this tightknit island community on the Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina, are connected by their collective poverty and abiding love for the sea. Outsiders are generally unwelcome. When Abigail’s family visits for a summer, she starts teaching Ben, her father’s fishing guide, how to read. His love for literature and for his teacher grows, and slowly he drifts away from longtime girlfriend, Eliza Dickens, eventually leaving her to marry Abigail. Although this new love is strong, tragedy tests it. Seven years later, the worst behind them, the couple picks through their past separately, putting together the pieces of themselves they lost along the way. Meanwhile, all these years later, plucky and independent Eliza has never fully recovered from losing Ben. She fights for his return and learns much more about herself in the process. Supporting characters, many with equally interesting lives, float in and out of the story as well. Ducharme beautifully shifts among love stories, weaving lives together. She also daftly expresses the tensions between economic classes. In her fog of love, Abigail joyfully leaves behind the security of her life at home so she can be with a man who could never financially provide for her in the ways she’s accustomed; only after the wedding does it hit her. “Words had failed us that night, and I’d welcomed the silence,” she thinks. “Words had escaped me the next morning as well but in a different way, when I came to realize that I was married to a fisherman for the rest of my days.”A study in love, class, and the profound ways people grow and adapt to life’s challenges.