What better reading for the first official summer weekend than a book titled The Cottage at Glass Beach? Heather Barbieri’s beguiling story about mothers and daughters and secrets of the past, all wrapped up in the enticing atmosphere of a rustic cottage on a tiny island in Northern Maine, was the perfect way to while away some time in my lawn chair under a shady tree.
The story stars Nora Cunningham, whose husband is Boston’s youngest district attorney. When he is caught in a public scandal involving another woman, Nora flees the tempest with her two young daughters and retreats to Burke’s Island, a remote place where she was born and lived for the first five years of her life until her mother mysteriously disappeared. Nora’s Aunt Maire provides the loving support she needs to get back on her feet. A mysterious fisherman washes up on shore and offers some romantic interest. A strange old woman drops clues about the circumstances leading to Nora’s mother’s disappearance, which was never resolved. Meanwhile, Nora’s daughters Ella and Annie are struggling with their new circumstances, and all the storylines come to a head when the two of them embark on a dangerous quest, and the powers of the sea are finally revealed.
The real star of any good beach book is, of course, the beach. The craggy coasts of Maine, the charming little cottage, the salty sea air and the incessant crashing of waves – all these create a wonderful atmosphere of life at the coast, one we Midwestererns can only dream about. Although I was in my backyard in Michigan, Barbieri has a gift with description that placed me right on those sandy shores.