Book Review: The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00075]Title: The Vineyard

Author: Michael Hurley

Genre: Literary Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

From Michael Hurley, winner of the Somerset Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.

Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher known only as “the fisherman” threatens to change everything they believe about their world–and each other.

“Hurley writes beautifully,” says Kirkus Reviews, “especially when describing island and nautical life.” Publishers Weekly praises “his well-crafted prose.”

The Vineyard is a touching, reflective novel. Ten years after spending their college days together, three women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Dory struggles with the high expectations put on her by her family and the vast wealth of her family heritage, and rebels against it, wanting a life of her own – even though she doubts her family will ever allow it.  Charlotte has just lost her daugther and plans to commit suicide, taking her daughter’s ashes into the ocean. She can’t cope with the sadness anymore. And then there’s Turner, who has no goals in life besides her blog, and is still trying to find out who she is and who she wants to be, a lost soul.

Charlotte goes out to commit suicide, and is saved by a mysterious figure known only as ‘the fisherman’. Turner wants nothing more than to reach celebrity status, but she doesn’t have more than a handful of followers on her blog, until she begins to blog about the fisherman, and his miracles, exaggerating them more than once. Dory too has an encounter with the mysterious ‘fisherman’, an encounter she won’t soon forget.

As all three women undergo a metamorphosis during their time on the island, and ever since their encounter with the fisherman, it leads them on a journey of absolution, of self-discovery, of finding something worth living for.

I enjoyed these parts of the book, the deep explorations of the human psyche, of the healing power of friendship. These parts stood out from the others. An other great part of the book was how developed the secondary characters were – they too were complex and interesting. The writing is excellent, and the author manages to craft some magnificent scenes, and makes it easy for the reader to picture the scenes.

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