Book Excerpts

Book Excerpt from The Vineyard


Book Excerpt

Charlotte plopped down on the patchwork quilt that covered the high, four-poster bed. Carefully embroidered ringlets of berries and flowers rambled across the fabric. Made by prim ladies at Edgartown tea parties, she imagined, wheedling away the long winter hours behind frosted windowpanes in serene comfort. The whole ethos of a bygone era was still present in the Delano house like the scent of perfume. It was all so exquisite. Quite so. It seemed to Charlotte as if nothing uncouth, no ill wind, could ever penetrate such a fortress of gentility.

Except she had penetrated it, . . .

. . . .

Dory was a free spirit, a granola girl, a bon vivant. Charlotte was not. Charlotte, even in the throes of a suicidal depression, remained a Pop-Tart kind of girl, a wear-jammies-to-bed girl, and a woman firmly tethered to the moral and social conventions of the middle class, which certainly did not include gallivanting about naked in one’s backyard.

. . . .

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the path to purgatory was not paved at all. Ruts and potholes pushed and bullied Charlotte as she ran that gauntlet. What a fitting anticlimax it would be, she thought, to break an axle and become stranded along the way to one’s own suicide—a live woman and a dead car stuck together on a murderous road. It would be untoward to wash a dead body out to sea while leaving a dead car in the middle of the road. A minute passed while she concocted a story for the ensuing road assistance. I had an urge to go skinny-dipping, was all that came to her. Dory would accept this unquestioningly, though not likely without some petulance for not being asked to come along.

. . . .

The unexpected warmth of the water surprised her even before she realized she had begun to wade out into it. It covered her ankles, then her thighs, and made the raw night air seem more rude by comparison on the parts of her that were yet unimmersed. If her own baptism as an infant had been, by all reports, a freezing, wet shower endured with screaming and terror, this means of undoing the sacrament by immersion was markedly more pleasant. The warm water was far more welcoming than the cold air and earth she was leaving behind, and not at all the hypothermic ordeal for which she had braced herself, now, for months. O Death, where is thy sting?


About The Vineyard

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00075]Title: The Vineyard

Author: Michael Hurley

Genre: Literary Fiction

From Michael Hurley, winner of the Somerset Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.

Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher known only as “the fisherman” threatens to change everything they believe about their world–and each other.

“Hurley writes beautifully,” says Kirkus Reviews, “especially when describing island and nautical life.” Publishers Weekly praises “his well-crafted prose.”

Author Bio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMichael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.

The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, BookTrib, Chanticleer Reviews, and IndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press on November 25, 2014.

Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005.  It was shortlisted for Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine.  In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.

When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house.  His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.


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