Featured Favorites: Books about Martha’s Vineyard


Edgartown Books recommends…

“Poisony Ivy” by Cynthia Riggs – The latest Victoria Trumbull mystery follows our 92-year-old poet/sleuth as she uncovers a mystery that involves bodies scattered around Ivy Green College, including one of the groundskeeper’s mangy mutts buried beneath a lush poison ivy vine. A must-read for fans of Cynthia Riggs and mysteries set on the Vineyard.

“Last Farm on Chappaquiddick: Pimpneymouse Farm” by Edo Potter – A lovely memoir by Edo Potter, a longtime resident of Chappy whose family has owned and operated Pimpneymouse Farm since 1928. Pimpneymouse was, until the recent addition of Slip Away Farm, the last farm on the small island. Potter writes about the years from 1933 to 1945 when her family became summer residents and truck farmers. Historical photos of Chappaquiddick in its early days accompany the story.

“Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard” by William Flender – This wonderful little book of trails by William Flender and the Vineyard Conservation Society is a must-have for those who want to explore the Island. Containing 53 trails, walkers have a choice of longer or shorter trails, up or down Island. With very detailed directions to each property and a comprehensive map, this is the best walking trail book around.

“Martha’s Vineyard” by Charles Fields – Fields captures the unique charm of Martha’s Vineyard in this beautiful coffee table book. Through 90 color photos of landscapes, seascapes, and aerial views, a variety of location around the island are displayed with captions.

“Women of Martha’s Vineyard” by Tom Dresser – Historian Thomas Dresser provides a series of biographical sketches of extraordinary women who have traveled to and lived on Martha’s Vineyard through the years. Among some of the notable women included are Dorothy West, Emily Post, Polly Hill and Nancy Luce.

Bunch of Grapes recommends…

“Through a Ruby Window” by Susan Klein – Vineyard storyteller Klein delights her readers with stories of her Oak Bluffs childhood. This takes place long before there were trophy houses, trophy cars, and even trophy wives. In the 1950s, neighbors watched over each other, simple gatherings brought joy, and a game of hide-and seek after dark was far more fun than today’s video games. Step back into a Vineyard time that was different.

“Peggy Day’s Martha’s Vineyard Adventure” by Barbara Dourmashkin – This new, beautifully illustrated children’s book takes Sarah and her dog, Peggy Day, on a romp around the Vineyard. Peggy Day breaks her leash on the front porch of the Menemsha Market when she starts chasing a runaway kitten. Sarah chases them to the dock, up to the Cliffs, through the Ag Fair, and eventually down-Island. When she spots a dog running on to the ferry, she is convinced that her dog is gone forever. Sadly she heads home in the evening, lamenting that it has been the worst day of her life, only to discover an amazing surprise.

“Letters from the Attic” by Betty Eddy Lidgerwood – A relative of Lidgerwood, a long time Chilmark resident, kept Bet’s letters stashed in the attic. In this fun book, Betty shares with us the bedlam of raising four children and countless animals. Life is an adventure for her, especially at the town dump, where many parts of their Chilmark home came from. Only someone who is as intelligent as Betty, can be so laugh-out-loud funny. Betty is a hoot.

“Living off the Sea” by Melinda Fager – Melinda and Jeff Fager have spent many summers on Chappaquiddick. Melinda is a photographer and cook, and Jeff is a determined fisherman. Together, they have developed many recipes for the fish they catch, and the food they forage or buy at local farms. These are not overly complicated recipes with exotic ingredients, but recipes that allow the freshness of the bounty to come through. The many photographs are as clean and beautiful as the food itself.

“Poison Ivy” by Cynthia Riggs – In this the 11th Victoria Trumbull mystery, Riggs again brings us her 92-year-old sleuth. When Victoria Trumbull enters the lecture hall of Ivy Green, a college in Vineyard Haven, where she is an adjunct professor of poetry, she is overwhelmed with the horrible stench of the place. With the help of a mutt named Brownie, she discovers a much decayed corpse. Are there more? Is a serial killer at work?

Book Den East recommends…

“History of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.” by C.E. Banks – Our second edition published by the Dukes County Historical Society in 1966 is the classic compendium of information regarding the Island up to the 20th century. Included is much genealogical and illustrative material. Three volume set. ($275)

“The Archaeology of Martha’s Vineyard” by William A. Ritchie – This 1969 edition describes various excavation sites, which give us a picture of aboriginal life on the Island in prehistoric times. Nicely illustrated with plates and figures. ($50)

“Martha’s Vineyard Summer Resort 1835-1935” by Henry Beetle Hough – This is a 1936 history of the development of the Island as a site for enjoying a summer vacation – away from the unpleasantness of city life. The Pulitzer Prize winning author was the owner and editor of the Vineyard Gazette who possessed a winning way with words. This copy is a first edition, inscribed by the author. ($120)

“Looking At The Vineyard (1973/1975)” – This is the Vineyard Open Land Foundation’s seminal study of the Island’s visual character and assessment of the increasingly rapacious development. The study antedates the subsequent vigorous and often bitter conflict between god Mammon and goddess Reason. ($20)

“People And Predicaments of Life And Distress on Martha’s Vineyard” by Milton Mazer – A 1976 read gives us a sympathetic psychiatrist’s analysis of what it means to be a year-round resident of Martha’s Vineyard; to live, work, and survive out here in the Atlantic. Based on a five-year study, the book is already of a bygone era when the population dynamics of the Island were quite different from those of the present, but the problems and predicaments remain the same. ($35)