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THE SILVER BOAT by Luanne Rice


by Luanne Rice

Pub Date: April 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-670-02250-2
Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Three middle-aged sisters gather to consider the fate of their family property on Martha’s Vineyard.

How does one family cope with the trauma of losing a 15-acre seaside spread that has been theirs since Colonial times? Especially if they are descended from the Daggetts, one of the founding families of Martha’s Vineyard? After their mother passes away, the McCarthy sisters, Dar, Delia and Rory, converge on Daggett’s Way, their rustic vacation home, to pack up memorabilia. Daggett’s Way is listed for sale because the sisters can afford neither to maintain it nor pay spiraling property taxes and inheritance taxes. There is an offer on the table from obnoxious buyers who plan to tear the historic place down and construct a vulgar facsimile of a French chateau, complete with indoor pool. Particularly hard hit by the prospect of losing her birthright is eldest daughter Dar, a graphic novelist whose manga altar ego Dulse can affect reality in ways Dar can’t. As for her sisters, Delia’s marriage is threatened by son Pete’s meth addiction. Rory, mother of three, compulsively cyberstalks her ex, Jonathan, who left her for a younger woman. Years before, the sisters’ father, Michael McCarthy, an Irish immigrant boat-builder who always felt threatened by his Daggett in-laws’ wealth, disappeared after a solo voyage to Ireland aboard his hand-crafted sailing sloop. Dar recalls that her father had some crazy notion that in 1625 or so King Charles I had granted his family a tract of land within the Daggett parcel’s boundaries. Not stopping to worry about how it’s going to help them prove that they have an ancient title to land they already own, the sisters head off to Ireland, where they learn that Michael’s madness was indeed methodical. Rich veins of conflict go unmined, and the most interesting characters are peripheral, including Harrison, a dispossessed Vineyardite who copes in a most original way with the loss of his own family fiefdom.

Errs on the side of the pat and predictable.