Excerpt from THE SILVER BOAT (and Reading Group Guide for Book Clubs)

The Silver Boat is now available in paperback. Here's the reading group guide (for the hardcover, but it works just as well!) The Silver Boat book trailer i love the song Bells by Maesa Pullman and Rosa Pullman. The video was directed by James Gallagher and produced by Tamara Edwards.

Here is an excerpt from The Silver Boat

Three white frosts on three successive mornings were taken by old-time Vineyarders as a sort of scriptural ending of winter and beginning of spring.

~Henry Beetle Hough

The Silver Boat: Chapter One

Dar McCarthy sat on the granite step to her mother’s rambling, gray-shingled farmhouse, listening to surf break beyond the pond.  There had been a gale last night, driving in wild ocean waves, and through the salt pond’s wide bight she could see gray-green seawater tower and crash, the foam bright white in the first morning light.

Last night’s high wind had blown out all the clouds, and the dawn sky was turning what Delia used to call “happy blue.”  The sun hadn’t yet melted the frost, glimmering on the old stonewalls and spiky brown grass, the lilac branches and the stone Buddha in the herb garden.  Her mother’s ancient cats skulked home from a night of hiding under the barn, looking tufty and tiny and old.

“What did you catch?” she asked.  They ignored her as usual, rubbing at the screen door to be let in, leaving snags of gray fur in the wire mesh.  Dar obliged them, reaching up to twist the brass knob behind her head.  As the five cats ran in, Scup, her mother’s black Lab, ambled out.  He made a quick round of the yard, padding paw prints in the frost, then came to sit beside her on the step.  They leaned into each other.

Scup nosed her hand with his white muzzle so she would pet him.  He was thin; she could feel the ridge of his spine.  She petted him for a while, and then he barked.  She had promised him a car ride.  Standing, she patted the pockets of her down vest to make sure she had car keys.

They never locked this house, called Daggett’s Way centuries before Dar was born, and she never locked the Hideaway, her tiny yellow beach cottage at the west end of her family’s fifteen acre property on the Atlantic Ocean in Chilmark, Massachusetts.

Opening the hatchback of her teal-blue Subaru, she let Scup in and smelled the fresh air.  Daffodils were ready to bloom in clumps around the yard and by the corner of the weathered shingle house; tiny buds formed on tips of the lilac bushes.  After a long, cold Martha’s Vineyard winter, April was here.   Dar’s hands felt icy, so she closed the hatch and jammed them in her pockets.  She was shivered not only from the morning chill.

She knew this feeling so well, from when she was twelve; everything that mattered in life was about to give way.  Back then she’d had no real warning, but now caveats were everywhere: bills, deadlines, contracts, constant and unwanted calls from Island Properties.

Climbing into the car, she discovered that Scup had jumped into the passenger seat.  She looked into his deep brown eyes and wondered if he sensed impending change.  He had seen the boxes she had been collecting from Alley’s and the Chilmark Store.

Pulling out the driveway onto South Road, she knew she was early to meet the ferry.  She turned right, passing the cemetery, driving along the oak and stonewall-lined road, seeing the sun rise over the trees.   One car came toward her, heading west—another year-rounder.  They both waved.  She turned into the parking lot at Alley’s Store, scanned the trucks for Andy Mayhew’s.  There it was, dirty white with a hoist in back and his logo painted on the door.

She climbed the porch steps, looked for Andy but didn’t see him, said hi to everyone standing around, drinking coffee.   Stopping at the bulletin board, she riffled through all the business cards and notices until she found a note written on a thick card embossed with Harrison Thaxter’s’ family crest; this was how they communicated.

“When are the girls arriving?” he’d scrawled in fountain pen.  Reaching for the pencil dangling from the board by a string, she wrote back, “Today!”  Then, not knowing whether he’d be by anytime soon, she added “(Friday, April 9th).”

“When’s he going to get a phone?” Andy asked, handing her a large steaming black coffee.

“When’s he going to get a house?” she asked.

They both chuckled.  Andy, Harrison, the McCarthy sisters, and a tight group of friends had grown up here—first summering on the island, some of them digging in and becoming year-rounders.

“You okay?” Andy asked, standing close, their arms touching.

“Yes,” she said.  “Going to pick up my sisters.  I can’t wait.”

“You sure about that?” he asked.  He was tall, and the top of her head just grazed his chin.

“Pretty sure,” she said, giving him a big smile, as if they hadn’t talked about this last night, as if her sheets might still be warm from where they’d slept.  “It’s going to be hard, getting ready to leave all this.”

“You don’t have to—“ he began.

“Thanks, Andy,” she said, putting her finger to his lips.

“You want me to come with you?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “You have a stone wall to repair.”

“I found some pretty granite, covered with lichens,” he said.  “Will you come see later?”

“I’ll try,” she said.  “It’s going to be sister time for the foreseeable future.”

He started to say something else but stopped himself.

“What?” she asked, but he shook his head.

“See you tonight,” he said.

They pressed each other’s hands, and she made her way back to the car.  Backing out of the parking lot she rolled down the window to wave.  Sipping coffee, she let the chilly air in.

Dar arrived in Vineyard Haven just in time to see the nine-o’clock boat rounding West Chop and slicing through the harbor.  Gulls cried, circling the upper deck.  No matter what time of year, she always felt delight and expectancy, seeing the ferry pull in.  Anyone at all might be aboard, but this time she knew for sure—Rory and Delia.

She and Scup jumped out of the car, stood aside the car lane.  The M/V Island Home screeched and squeaked, thumping back and forth between the huge barnacled, creosoted pilings.   Chains rattled as ferry’s metal ramp was lowered, and Dar peered into the dark hold, her heart beating fast.