ON THE SAME PAGE – N. D. Galland
December 31, 2018
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Present Day
I've read stories set on the Island of Martha's Vineyard, but those were set in the summer while this one is set in the winter when most of the visitors are gone and the population is at its lowest. Our young and single heroine, Joanna Howes, is a native of the island. She left it to live in New York's Manhattan where she practices her trade of freelance journalist. She had a strange youth. After her mother left, she was moved around from relative to relative until she found ones who kept her. Their relationship is tangled (a big family on both sides) so they settled on calling Henry Holmes her Uncle Hank. Aunt Jen has died since.
Joanna, often called Anna for short, had kept up a close friendship since childhood with another Islander, Celia, who called her one day to tell her that her uncle fell from his roof and was in the hospital. Joanna hurried to catch a bus to catch a ferry to the island where Celia met her and drove her to the hospital. There she learned Hank was badly hurt with bruises and a broken ankle. She will move into her old home to care for him the several weeks until he's better.
But things don't turn out to be that easy.
A very important feature (you could almost say “character) of this story is the island itself. The differences between summer and winter are reflected in the different populations, the year-round locals and the more affluent summer visitors, many of whom own their own properties. One of the latter is Orion Smith who irritates the permanent residents by flying his noisy private helicopter to and from his land. They try to forbid him to do so. One of the more belligerent being Joanna's uncle.
As a freelance writer, Anna has no steady income, so using different names (her real one and an old pen name she once used) she goes to work part time for both of the island's newspapers, the Journal and the Newes. It's no easy matter keeping her identities separate. It's especially hard when she meets a handsome and charming man who sets up a flirtation. She's dismayed to learn he's the helicopter man, her uncle's enemy. She keeps that fact a secret from him. This whole matter becomes a legal mess, and she's expected to write articles by both papers.
Ms. Galland does an excellent job portraying the people as they are. Even the real Orion becomes a sympathetic person behind his spoiled rich boy persona. And then there is the island, a captivating entity that comes to life itself. Most every visitor will get the feeling they were lucky enough to find a most unique vacation spot.