Susan Wilson

Hawke's Cove

"Lovable" is the way Entertainment Weekly described Susan Wilson's debut novel, and Library Journal raved, "Beauty is wonderful...a little gem." Now the acclaimed author delivers a stunning new tale of passion, loss, and remembrance as the paths of a World War II wife and a handsome stranger cross in the little New England town known as Hawke's Cove.

The year is 1944. After the loss of her first child, Evangeline Worth returns to her beloved grandmothers farm in Hawke's Cove. Once the enchanting place of her youth, this small coastal town is now a sanctuary for her solitude. With her husband, John, across the Atlantic on the war front, Vangie does the best she can to put her life, and heart, back together. All of that changes one day when a man appears on her doorstep searching for work.

Joe Green looks able enough, and though she wanders why he isn't in the service, Vangie takes him in on instinct. As a rich friendship develops between them, the Army informs Vangie that John is MIA. At the same time, rumors in town circulate about a downed Hellcat plane and its missing pilot. Smoothing away each other's loneliness, Vangie and Joe fed their relationship deepening into a forbidden passion. Then John is suddenly found alive, and the lovers separate -- but cannot bear to sever their bond.

In 1993, Vangie's son Charlie lands a plum reporting assignment: to unlock the puzzle of the recently dredged-up Hellcat in Hawke's Cove. To investigate the fifty-year-old mystery, he heads to Hawke's Cove, where he meets respected local Joe Green and his daughter, Maggie. As a romantic relationship blossoms between Charlie and Maggie, Vangie and Joe realize that they must open up the past -- and the secrets they'd buried along with it.

A mesmerizing tale of joy and sorrow, misbegotten dreams and desires, Hawke's Cove is peopled with characters who are at once mysterious and unabashedly revealing. With a rare capacity for love and forgiveness, they draw us into their lives through their most private journals, letters, and inner thoughts. Susan Wilson's tenderly crafted love story is guaranteed to leave readers with an intense desire to explore their own hearts.



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Affaire de Coeur

In the summer of 1944, a grieving and lonely Evangeline Worth leaves Boston for her favorite place, Hawke’s Cove.  While her spouse John fights in Europe, Vangie struggles with the recent death of her infant...
In Hawke’s Cove, rumors fly that a plane crashed nearby and the pilot is missing.  At about the same time, Joe Greene meets Vangie.  Though she wonders why he is not fighting since he seems healthy, he and Vangie comfort each other.  Soon, Vangie feels guilty when she learns that John is missing in action.  Joe and Vangie fall in love; John is found alive.
In 1993, the local newspaper assigns Vangie’s son Charlie, a reporter, to investigate the recently found World War II plane.  Charlie’s inquiries lead him to Joe and the mans’ daughter Maggie.  However, Charlie and Maggie begin to fall in love, compelling the revealing of fifty-year old secrets.  
Susan Wilson shows she is a writing adept when it comes to providing her audience with a complex romance that spans a half a century.  The story line focuses on the durability and endurance of loe to thrive even when formal relationships are impossible.  The beauty of this tale is alternating narration by the cast, which allows the reader to get closer to the characters.  Hawke’s Cove is a triumph that will make Ms. Wilson a household name.

–Harriet Klausner


Evangeline Worth is like most individuals in 1944 who are fcing changes in their daily lives in this period of unrest.  Vangie takes an opportunity to return to her grandmother’s farm while she waits word of her husband John.  This trip home seems normal, but the strange disappearance of her husband’s clothes hanging to dry that spring day sets the changes that are to have long lasting affects.  The use o diary entries is wonderfully handled and the opening segment quickly sets the reader’s antenna on high interest.  The mnner in which the story unfolds is wonderful and definitely entertaining.


The intimacy of Susan Wilson’s Hawke’s Cove also conveys the power of World War II through the lives of Vangie Worth and Joe Greene.  
Vangie has retreated to the sanctuary of Hawke’s Cove after his husband John chooses to go to war, and she miscarries their unborn child.  Both Vangie and Joe hold scars and secrets, and their closeness tightens until John, reported missing in action, is freed from a concentration camp.
Vangie and Joe each choose lives apart, yet the bond they shared remains unbroken though years of letters.  When a downed Hellcat plane prompts Vangie’s reporter son Charlie, to search out the story o f Hawke’s Cove, Vangie and Joe’ story too, is at risk.  Susan Wilson’s writing is like filigreed platinum; delicately spun, and priceless.  Hawke’s Cove is a poignant, evocative love story that transcends its place and its generation.
–Sandy Huseby

Martha’s Vineyard Times

“They always spoke about how horrific the Vietnam war had been, all the syndromes and traumas that accounted for antisocial behavior.  It occurred to Charlie, the veterans of the Second World War hadn’t been allowed that excuse.  They were welcomed home heroes and then asked to move on.  How do you do that?”
You don’t.  You can’t move on and smooth the pained places unless you allow the people you love to share the mourning.  That’s mostly what Island author Susan Wilson’s new novel, “Hawke’s Cove” is about.  The silences.  The words left unsaid that otherwise would have allowed the healing.
Evangeline [Vangie] Worth is a young bride at the beginning of World War II.  She gives birth to a stillborn baby, and before she even leaves the hospital, her husband, John, ships off to Europe.  They haven’t mourned together, and his reticence and absence leave Vangie alone and distraught.  She flees to Hawke’s Cove, a peninsula on the eastern seaboard, across from a town called Great harbor.  She’d spent many happy childhood summers o her grandmother’s farm, now hers.  The geography should feel very familiar to Island readers.
The story is told in flashbacks from almost everyone’s point of view, the majority of the narrative in the form of Vangie’s journals of the time.  We begin to see her husband as cold, self-centered, unfeeling.  When the mysterious Joe Greene arrives she decides to trust him in spite of the fact that he’s wearing John’s clothes, recently stolen from Vangie’s clothesline.  She hires him to rebuild her barn, and they develop a deep friendship that turns to love.
All parties involved harbor secrets.  No one has an inkling where Joe Green has come from, and he deftly manages to elude the cautious inquiries.  Vangie has told no one about her stillborn child.  When her secret is revealed in front of Joe, he and their friends grieve her loss with her, as if it were their own.
When John is reported missing in action, Vangie is torn between the seemingly undeserved loyalty she feels toward her husband and the gentle, playful love of Joe Greene.  Her decision is made for her when John is discovered in a Nazi POW camp and is returned to his home in Boston.  She rushes to his side, carrying a brand new secret under her heart.  
Like her namesake in Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline spends the next several decades separated from the man she loves.  She remains married and has three children with John, who is even more reticent with his emotions after his ordeal as a prisoner of war.  And the reader discovers that John also has his secrets.
Flash forward to 1993.  Vangie’s son, Charlie, a feature writer for an unnamed Boston area newspaper is given the assignment to cover the discovery of a missing World War II fighter plane off the coast of Hawke’s Cove.  The pilot had never been found, but Charlie has a hunch that he may still be alive and living an assumed life in Hawke’s Cove.  In the course of conversing with the town’s folks, he makes fast friends with Joe Green and his beautiful daughter, Maggie.  Soon all secrets are out.  
The characters in Hawke’s Cove are compelling.  As each of their stories is revealed, the reader is drawn to rooting them on and despairing when the words that could heal are left unsaid.  By allowing us to be privy to their inner visions, Ms. Wilson gives the reader a peek into each character’s emotional geography and the opportunity to cheer or lament that character’s part in the drama.  
The structure of the novel is unique, flowing and balanced....Ms. Wilson has constructed a powerful story inn two well-defined eras.  Small details give us a taste of life during World War II, the day-to-day of an insular community during a tragic time.
In “Hawke’s Cove” Susan Wilson has created a very peculiar plot that works like crazy.  Although there are few surprises, the pages keep turning.  Although there’s plenty of conflict, there are no real villains.  Unless, of course, you count the secrets.  Or the silences.


Chapter One: Charlie -- 1993

Charlie Worth leaned back in his ergonomically correct desk chair and shot a wad of paper at the wastebasket with an over-the-shoulder hook shot. He missed, and the crumpled memo joined a flock of others surrounding the metal can. This presidential-vacation thing was getting out of hand. Priscilla the Killer kept coming up with more and more stupid angles to write about, and this one was worse than the suggestion about interviewing people in Kennebunkport to see if they could give the people of Great Harbor any good advice vis-ŕ-vis presidents on vacation.

Charlie was determined to be the only feature writer not camping out in Great Harbor for the proposed visit. Besides, he kept pointing out to any who would listen, the Clintons would probably choose the Vineyard. Heck of a lot better golf to be had there than anywhere near this hole-in-the-wall vacation destination. Now, if the Clintons did go to the Vineyard, maybe he'd tag along. At thirty-nine, there were few places Charlie hadn't been to during his journalistic career: Beirut, Saint Petersburg when it had been Leningrad, and London as a correspondent for the Globe. He'd been to most every Caribbean island, Belize, and rugged Alaskan camps while he'd done a five-year stint as a travel writer. This feature-writer thing, though, was alternately fun and boring. Craving a settled existence, Charlie had given up the travel for the post, sacrificing adventure for a stable home with a garden he could enjoy through all of its seasons. After eighteen months, though, Charlie found himself daydreaming of chucking the whole security thing and following in the footsteps of the great travel writers, immersing himself in some rare culture, then writing a whiz-bang best-selling memoir.

But even as he played with the notion, Charlie knew that one thing kept him close to home. The same thing that had brought him back to the paper and a desk with a once-a-week byline. His aging parents.

Charlie got up and stretched, reaching for the ceiling. On the way down, he rubbed his hands across his middle in the hope that it had gone away. Leaning over the keyboard, he sent a quick E-mail to his buddy Dave in Sports to get a racquetball date set up. Conscience momentarily salved, he headed towards the coffeepot. As luck would have it, Priscilla St. Lorraine was on her way to his cubicle and caught him before he could take a quick right towards the men's room, which, so far, she hadn't yet invaded.

"Charlie, have I got a story for you!"

"How nice." Charlie smiled, recalling that, in the rarefied code of southern women, "How nice" meant "Fuck you."

Priscilla launched into her story idea, something about an old plane wreck discovered in the waters off Great Harbor during the routine aerial survey prior to the potential visit by the president and his family. It was only when Priscilla told him where the plane had been barged that Charlie's interest was piqued a little.

Hawke's Cove.

When Charlie was little, maybe eight or nine, he and his older sisters had found a Jumping-Jacks shoe box filled with uncatalogued photos. Most of the photos had quasi-familiar adults in them, people they called by the honorific Aunt or Uncle. Uncle Jack, who was Daddy's partner, and his wife, Aunt Joan, dressed up in party clothes, martini glasses held up to toast some New Year long ago. There were pictures of their parents, looking odd in their old-fashioned hairstyles and out-of-date clothes. Charlie couldn't reconcile his father with this boy with thick blond hair.

Three or four of the pictures had an ocean background. One, a very old sepia print, was of a young woman in a hat, a small terrier standing near her, a barn behind her, the doors half open.

"That's Gran the first year she lived at Hawke's Cove." Vangie had come upon her children, the scattered pictures surrounding them on the worn oriental carpet. "What are you kids up to here?" Vangie sat down beside Charlie and began gathering up the photos. As she collected them, she began to tell Amanda, Julie, and Charlie who was who and what occasion each photo captured. Charlie vividly remembered the feel of her thick, still-auburn braid touching his cheek as she reached past him to pick out one photo. A thin, bearded man stood holding one end of a line of fish. A crew-cut, heavier-set man stood at the other. They both wore pleased grins.

"Who's these guys?" Charlie asked.

"Who are these guys." The correction purely reflexive. "That's Ernie Dubee." She tapped the crew-cut man's face. "He was our police chief in Hawke's Cove."

"Who is this one?" Charlie touched the face of the other man with his small forefinger.

"That's Joe. Joe Green. He worked for me on the farm in Hawke's Cove." There was something in her voice that made all three children look at her just in time to see a small, private smile tease her lips.

His mother reached into the cluster of old photos and picked up another one. Charlie leaned against her arm and looked at a picture of a man standing near the barn, a small, pleased smile on his face. "Is that Joe Green too?"

In the way of childhood memories, it was distinct in his mind that his mother only nodded and put the photo in her apron pocket.

That was the first time Charlie would hear about Hawke's Cove and the time his mother spent there during the war.

"So, Mom, what do you remember about Hawke's Cove?"

Evangeline Worth smiled spontaneously at the name. "I remember how the air smelled in the morning, the feel of the wet grass on my bare feet. I remember how brilliant..."

"Mom, I asked you, not Evangeline Worth, 'Poet to the People.' Just tell me."

"Tell you what? Stories? You've heard all of them."

"No. Actually, I need to know if you remember a specific incident. A plane crash."

Vangie was glad this conversation was taking place on the phone. That way the sudden shaking in her hands wouldn't frighten Charlie into thinking she'd developed a tremor. "What plane crash?"

She knew, even before Charlie began to tell her. She knew that the Hellcat had been found. As he told her about the presidential vacation and the sonar survey, she felt her mind wander back over half a century. Her mouth twitched in a little self-derisive smile. After this long, which secret needed the most safekeeping? Did it really matter anymore where Joe had come from? What mattered was only that he'd come and her life had been sweetened.