The Hermit of Chappaquiddick: Steven Raichlen’s Novel with a New Title & Chapter

Hermit of Chappaquiddick

Here’s a fact about me some of you may not know: In addition to being a food writer and TV host, I also wrote a novel.

Well, here’s another fact you may not know—one of the most frustrating things about being an author is that you don’t always get to choose your book’s title. I originally called my novel The Hermit of Chappaquiddickthe name of its main characterThe publisher insisted on the more neutral—dare I say bland—title, Island Apart. 

So for the new Amazon edition of my novel—available both as an e-book on Kindle and as a printed book, I went back to my original title.  It’s the same story of love, loss, and redemption. But now with the title I always dreamed of.  Plus a bonus chapter that didn’t make it into the original book—the backstory of one of my favorite supporting characters: Sheila.

As the title suggests, the story takes place on a tiny island steeped in history and controversy: Chappaquiddick.   Attached to, but very separate from Martha’s Vineyard, it’s also the island where, for the last 20 years, I have spent my summers and falls.

The idea for the story came to me when we started building our house.   It percolated for 10 years before I actually started writing it.   I knew there would be a hermit—a quiet man with a secret, who lived off the land and apart from others.   I knew there would be a New York book editor—a kind and gracious woman with a serious illness—who would spend a year on Chappaquiddick trying to recover.   I knew she would have a rebellious daughter with a biker boyfriend, a big-hearted best friend, a tyrannical boss, and a coterie of colorful neighbors on her newfound New England island home.   Oddly, I also knew the story would also involve the real-life iconoclastic psychotherapist, Wilhelm Reich.

Writing is a mysterious process.   The day the words The Hermit of Chappaquiddick popped into my head, I knew how the story would begin and how it would end.   I just didn’t know what would happen along the way.   But I knew there would be a lot of great food and that cooking would bring everyone together.

You may be surprised to find that, while this is definitely a foodie love story, you won’t find any barbecue.   This was deliberate: most of you know me through my books and TV shows about smoke and fire.   I wanted you to see another side of me as a writer.   However, I assure you, the next novel will definitely involve barbecue.   So will the next cookbook, which I’m working on already.

Likewise, while there’s a lot of great food in The Hermit of Chappaquiddick, there are no recipes.   Again, I wanted this book judged as a novel, not a cookbook.   But you will find recipes for many of the dishes the Hermit and Claire cook:

I hope you enjoy reading The Hermit of Chappaquiddick as much as I enjoyed writing it.   And now, to whet your appetite as it were, see below for an excerpt from the first few chapters.

Steven Raichlen
Chappaquiddick Island

Read An Excerpt of The Hermit of Chappaquiddick