If there was ever one woman who knew what was important, that woman was Molly Bell Redwine. From childhood, Molly was taught by her charismatic, demanding mother that "family is everything." But in what seems like an instant, Molly discovers that family can change without warning. Her husband of more than twenty years leaves her for a younger woman, her domineering mother dies, and her Atlanta clan scatters to the four winds. In a heartbeat Molly is set adrift. Devasting by her crumbling world, Molly takes refuge with a friend on Martha's Vineyard where she tries to come to terms with who she really is. After the summer season, Molly decides to stay on in this very different world, renting a small cottage on a remote up-island pond.As Molly's stay up island widens the distance between her and her old life in Atlanta, she lets go of her outworn notions of family and begins to become part of a strange -- and very real -- new family.As the long Vineyard winter closes in, she braces herself for the search for renewal, identity, and strength, until the healing spring finally comes.
Up Island chronicles the mass redemption of a unlikely group, thrown together by the vicissitudes of love and fate: "a six foot Southern Betrayed Wife and her widowed father and a senile old Portuguese lesbian and a one-legged schoolteacher and a mongrel dog and two aberrant swans..." As the novel begins, newly divorced Molly Redwine is in the market for some redemption. Battered and numb from loss, she comes to Martha's Vineyard to escape and heal if she can. For the next 300 pages, the story shuttles between Molly's heart, packed with pain, regret, and guilt, and the sea-licked open spaces of the island. By book's end, both places are terra cognita. There are family secrets, haunted dreams, and enough death to do Shakespeare proud--balanced delicately with small pleasures, kindness, and unbreakable bonds. Up Island is a fractal of a book: complicated but ultimately satisfying as only the completion of a pattern can be. Intelligent and insightful, it is good story tenderly told.