Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: The Vineyard by Michael Hurley


Ten years after college, three very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  As they come to grips with various challenges in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive fisherman threatens to change everything they believe about their world—and each other.

(Publication Date: 25 November, 2014 - available for pre-order)



I found it interesting that the main characters were introduced one at a time.  The usual, I would say, would be to like have them all the the first chapter.  But it worked.  Charlotte has a lot on her plate, and even though we are just reading about it, it takes time to digest her story.  But then ending one's own life is a serious thing, and quite timely considering that Brittany Maynard's story out of Oregon this week.  Charlotte has gone to Martha's Vineyard (aka 'The Vineyard' to those in the know) to kill herself because her daughter has died from cancer and her marriage has fallen apart.

She goes to Dory's house for a college reunion of three dorm-mates, whose family is 'old money'.  Everyone knows Dory and she, in turn, knows about everybody else's business.

Turner doesn't show up until Chapter 5.  She writes a popular blog, although whether it's popular because of the writing or the pictures of Turner is a matter of opinion.  She arrives early, because a 70-something male fan from Australia was going to show up at her house to meet her in person.

Three different women with very different stories.

I suppose my reviews are more emotional than most.  By that I mean I rate or judge books by my emotional connection to the story, rather than grammar or literary style (whatever is meant by that).  And "The Vineyard" swept me off my feet stronger than the pull of rip tides off Gay Head (the spot where Charlotte entered the ocean).    It even changed my opinion about Martha's Vineyard.  I had, unfortunately, developed a misconception about the place, seeing that most of what I had heard earlier in lie was about the rich and 'important' people who live there.  I know, totally wrong of me.  

And I am absolutely enthralled by the mysterious 'fisherman'.  The man who sells uber-jumbo shrimp to the populace, when no one else in the area can even find tiny shrimp that year.  The man to whom Charlotte accidentally hands her suicide note instead of the shopping list from Dory.  The man who pulls her out of the ocean when she is about to go down for the last time.  The man who is gone the next morning when she is 'found' in a boat by a racing yacht, captained by a male friend of Dory's.

It is so interesting the way people try to solve mysteries by applying 'logic' to them.  Sometimes logic doesn't enter into it at all.  That makes it scary and exhilarating at the same time.

Time reading "The Vineyard" counts as time well spent.



Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.

The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press in December 2014.

Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005. It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.

When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house. His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.

Find out more about Michael at his website and connect with him on Facebook.


(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of this book from the author and publisher via TLC Book tours in exchange for my unbiased opinion.)


  1. Definitely an interesting premise. I love when you come away from a story and are very satisfied. Always a good feeling.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  2. I judge books on my emotional connection to them, too! I'm so glad you loved this book! Thanks for being on the tour!

    1. So good to hear, Trish! Thanks for giving me the chance to read this book! :O)