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The Invisible Husband of Frick Island


The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

Love, reality and the big personality of one small island collide in THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND, Colleen Oakley’s latest heartfelt release.

Anders Caldwell has always dreamed of being Superman. Well, not Superman exactly, but Clark Kent, the intrepid reporter who can handle any story that comes his way. And sure, he always thought he’d make a name for himself at the Washington Post or the New York Times, but for now Maryland’s Daily Telegraph is where he writes hard-hitting articles on topics like school lockdowns and cake walks, the subject of his latest assignment. Anders’ new piece has him riding the ferry to Frick Island, a 1.2-mile strip of land accessible only by boat and home to just 94 people.

Originally “discovered” by Jamestown settlers, the island is one of the oldest English-speaking communities in the region, now known for its unique dialect. But perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Frick Island is how little it has changed since its settler days --- and the pride its citizens take in that fact. The people there are mostly fishermen and their wives, all of whom are avid church-goers (or at least believers), and everyone knows everything about everyone else.

"Whimsical, charming and utterly full of hope...THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND is an unconventional love story for any reader. Once again, I am amazed by the depths of Oakley’s brain and her ability to breathe faith, compassion and love into the most inventive of premises."

Needless to say, Anders is none too thrilled with this gig, especially when he misses the ferry home and is forced to find lodging at the only B&B in town. But whether or not he’s paying attention, Frick Island has a story for him: Tom Parrish. For four months, Tom has been missing and presumed dead following a terrible storm that sent his crabbing boat to the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. But as Anders comes to realize, the town --- including Tom’s widow, Piper --- are acting as if the man hasn’t left for longer than it takes to complete a day’s work.

Already on the hunt for a terrific story for his podcast (which just might earn him the respect as a reporter that he craves), Anders believes it would behoove him to learn more about Frick Island’s delusion. But as a “Come Here” and not a “From Here,” he can’t just start asking about a woman’s dead husband, especially when she doesn’t seem to know he’s gone and the town is wildly protective of her. Under the guise of reporting on global warming (and the very real fact that Frick Island likely won’t be around in 20 years), Anders begins to ingratiate himself with the Frick Islanders and learns that there’s far more to the tiny island town than one invisible husband.

As Anders begins to spend more time on Frick Island getting to know its colorful and loveable denizens --- including BobDan Gibbons, the ferry boat captain; Pearl Olecki, the owner of the B&B; and, of course, the enigmatic and gorgeous Piper herself --- he starts to feel more and more like a “From Here.” Whether he’s crabbing with the Gibbons twins, developing photos with young Bobby, or helping BobDan load and unload the ferry, Anders is becoming part of the fabric of Frick Island. And though he has been approaching the island as a reporter, the closer he gets to Piper, he finds that he has become a Frick Islander through and through. He is no longer sure that he wants to put an end to Piper’s belief that her husband is walking, sleeping and eating alongside her. Even worse, the part of him that still wants her to see reality can no longer say it is for the right reasons, because just like the other citizens who have sworn to protect Piper, he has fallen in love with her.

Colleen Oakley is a powerhouse of a writer, full of creativity (an invisible husband?!) and the talent to back it up. Here, she takes something magical and wonderful --- an entire town acting on behalf of one person --- and combines it beautifully with the intimate nature of grief and the need to hide from the truth. The result is something I don’t believe I ever could have imagined before reading this delightful novel, but it is the kind of story that I feel I can recommend to anyone. Oakley balances the more unbelievable aspects of her book with a vivid and grounding community, and her characters are each as believable and endearing as the next, without a single misstep in the bunch. I love the kind of setting that acts as its own character, and Frick Island does exactly that. Even when the island is stormswept, dilapidated and resistant to change, it demands respect and admiration, and each scene reads as if Oakley is writing from the parlor of Mrs. Olecki’s B&B or sitting on the marina under BobDan’s watchful gaze.

Whimsical, charming and utterly full of hope --- an emotion sorely lacking these days --- THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND is an unconventional love story for any reader. Once again, I am amazed by the depths of Oakley’s brain and her ability to breathe faith, compassion and love into the most inventive of premises.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on June 4, 2021

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island
by Colleen Oakley

  • Publication Date: May 25, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 1984806483
  • ISBN-13: 9781984806482