Friday, March 16, 2012
That Old Cape Magic
For Jack Griffin, all paths, all memories, converge on Cape Cod where he took his childhood summer vacations and where he and his wife, Joy, honeymooned. It was the dream of his parents to own a home on the cape, which they never managed to do. It was their last wishes to have their remains scattered in the waters of the cape which became Jack's duty. At times the book was funny, but it was mostly an examination of Griffin's relationship with his parents (and their hold on him) and with his wife of 30 years.
Cynthia Riggs, a thirteenth-generation Islander, lives on Martha's Vineyard in her family homestead, which she runs as a bed-and-breakfast catering to poets and writers. Deadly Nightshade is her first novel and features a feisty 92-year-old sleuth. The book's descriptions of the island and the characterizations of its inhabitants was good but the writing left a lot to be desired. Transitions between scenes and chapters were pretty choppy.
For me, the best part of both these books were the memories they brought back of my own trip to the area in the mid '70's.
I often wonder how I would feel about a place if I went back now. Would I even recognize anything? Being on Cape Cod was my first ocean experience. One of my favourite memories is of walking way out into Cape Cod Bay when the tide went out - amazing.
I did not go to Martha's Vineyard, but rather to Nantucket. The ferry ride over to the island was pretty rough and even though I got sea sick, I tried to pay attention to everything about the journey - the sea gulls following the ship, the light houses out on the points, the harbor as we docked and the cars began driving off the ferry and on to the island.
The best way to get around the town of Nantucket was by bicycle. Mine had what I came to think of as a Jessica Fletcher basket on the handle bars - which may be why I still have to have a basket and a bell on my bike to this day.
I loved looking at all the old homes. The widow's walks atop them were fascinating. Imagine your husband's whaling ship due back in port and it wasn't in yet. Those platforms on the roofs were where the wife would go to pace and keep a look out. When the ship didn't return, the look out became a widow's walk.