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

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
8/6/2019

Read An Excerpt of The Hermit of Chappaquiddick


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