Before she wrote the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert penned this humorous, warm-hearted novel about life in 1970s New England, now reissued in a new paperback edition. The islands of Fort Niles and Courne Haventwo lobstering communities off the coast of Mainehave a rivalry that's several centuries old and grounded in the competition between local lobstermen. Ruth Thomas is a native of Fort Niles and the daughter of one of the island's most ruthless fishermen. Returning home after four years at a private school, she plans to ignore her rich grandfather's wish that she attend college and follow her own ambition, which is to become an island regular. But finding her place on Fort Niles turns out to be harder than Ruth thought, and when she falls in love with a man from Courne Haven, her life becomes even more complicated. Gilbert fleshes out this charming narrative with plenty of lobstering history, and the plot is further thickened by the inhabitants of Fort Niles, a group of off-the-wall islandersincluding the beautiful Mrs. Pommeroy, mother of seven sons, all of them inbredwho have their own conflicts and eccentricities. When Ruth is reunited with her mother, who abandoned her many years ago, she realizes she must come to terms with what she wants for the futureand try to end the territorial rivalry that threatens the people she loves most. This is a spirited, engaging novel that should delight Gilbert's many fans.
A reading group guide is available online at www.penguingroup.com.