By: Heidi Jon Schmidt
Publisher: New American Library/Penguin
Publishing Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: August 20, 2012
This new book by Heidi Jon Schmidt is a pleasing page-turner that takes place in Oyster Creek, a small town in Massachusetts. This village on Cape Cod is the same spot her first book, The House on Oyster Creek, was set which served as a reminder of the people and their problems in this part of New England.
In the beginning of The Harbormaster's Daughter, Franco Neves, the assistant harbormaster is just a little bitter because the previous harbormaster has retired and Franco thought he was next in line for the job. Franco is of Portuguese descent and has lived on the harbor for many years and he was sure that when the harbormaster retired he would automatically get the job. Well, it didn’t work out that way as the powers that be felt that the wealthy summer tourist trade needed a harbormaster who fit the magazine rendition of the job (i.e. handsome, rugged, inclined to pat men on the back and flirt with the women).
Franco went on to have a brief affair with Sabine, a tourist, that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy and a lot of trouble for Franco. A few years later Sabine was killed and Franco became suspect number one. Their daughter, Vita, who doesn’t know who her father is, is sent to live with LaRee, a friend of Sabine’s where she grows up without knowing about her past. Then, of course, the past starts to surface when Vita is a teenager and she feels betrayed by her adopted mother and all the friends who knew the secret of her past and never said anything to her. Vita is determined to come into her own and become more independent as the two cultures (Portuguese and the summer tourists) come to a head.
The author tries to tell a tale of tragic vs. hopeful, a young girl trying to find her way in the world that was taken from her, and a father and mother who she didn't really know. Then add in a mystery of the child, Vita, trying to find out who killed her mother and why. At times, the plot was so complicated that it was difficult to pin any one thing or person down. Overall, however, it was an enjoyable story and I’m sure there are many people who will like this book, especially the passages about life on Cape Cod.
Quill Says: A very considerate and thoughtful story of life on the small Massachusetts Cape and the two cultures that make up the area (the haves and the have-nots).