Troubled wife Nora and her children return to the island of Nora’s birth, off the Maine coast, where answers to old mysteries and resolutions to newer problems will inevitably be found.
Marine enigmas are often invoked as mood-enhancers in the third novel from Barbieri (The Lace Makers of Glenmara, 2009, etc.). Summoned by her Aunt Maire, Nora, with daughters Ella and Annie, returns to Burke’s Island, where her flirty, charismatic mother Maeve disappeared when Nora was 5. Nora needs a break from her life in Boston, where her marriage is the subject of scandal after her husband Malcolm, the youngest attorney general-elect in Massachusetts state history, has been discovered having an affair. On the island, Nora is assailed by half-forgotten childhood memories, while odd figures stroll into the picture: Owen, shipwrecked on the beach, a man with no memories who keeps watch over Nora; Ronan, a child who befriends Annie and whose presence is a secret. This wispy, fairy-tale aspect is underscored by dreams, selkies, mists, changelings and sea gypsies as the story drifts towards a finale that answers one large mystery while leaving several loose ends dangling.
A sweetly simple, not exactly unpredictable story with the bone structure of a romance; stronger on atmosphere and charm than events.