Picks and Pans Review: Up Island
Molly Redwine, the homemaker heroine of Siddons's engrossing 12th novel, has been hit with a spate of midlife woes: Her mother has died, her husband has left her for a buff 32-year-old, her widowed dad is down in the dumps, and her son is ready to leave the nest. Instead of opting for one of the standard bourgeois coping mechanisms—psychotherapy, say, or a nice French cooking class—Redwine mystifies her refined Atlanta set by moving to Martha's Vineyard and spending an icy winter in a secluded cabin, earning her keep by caring for a pair of ornery swans and a cancer patient.
Siddons manages to make Molly's island interlude, which might easily feel contrived, come across as just the step this particular sort of strong-willed woman would take. The action drags in places; obviously smitten with the Vineyard's rolling landscape, the author seems determined to catalog its every delight. Yet Molly's journey to healing, and her discovery that families come in more forms than she could ever have imagined, make Up Island an affecting read. (HarperCollins, $24)