The Definition of Wind

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The Definition of Wind

A Novel

Abigail Harker has been living in the caretaker's cottage of the lighthouse on Chapel Isle for almost a year. Having run away from the tragic events of her life in Boston, she's been content being secluded in this sleepy little town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But summer has arrived and with it come sweltering temperatures and crowds of tourists who are turning the town upside down and making Abby's life crazy.

Everyone's talking about a sunken treasure in the treacherous shoals off the coast and supposedly clues to its exact location are hidden somewhere in the caretaker's cottage. When Abby becomes the focus of everyone's attention, including those of a handsome vacationer, it becomes difficult to tell who's harmless. Not everyone has good intentions.

As Independence Day gets closer, Abby must decide between staying on Chapel Isle and risking heartbreak and her safety or on allowing the ghosts of her past and the real dangers of the present to drive her away.

The Definition of Wind by Ellen Block is the entertaining and engaging follow up to her book, The Language of Sand. Not realizing there had been a previous book with these characters, I began this book somewhat at a disadvantage but discovered I was able to enjoy it on its own. Ms. Block's writing style is very tight and while there are references to events from the previous book, it was easy to follow the events as they unfolded and to understand the characters and their growth. Her love of the English language and words in general, also shines throughout the story.

Abigail Harker is a woman hiding from the tragedy in her life, both her husband, Paul, and young son, Justin, perished in a house fire. Moving to Chapel Isle, her husband's favorite summer retreat as a child is a chance to start over. Only Abigail hasn't moved on, she's still stuck in the past and can't get past the tragedy in her life. She's become a recluse, only shops online and seldom leaves the caretaker's cottage. She hadn't planned on the extreme heat of summer forcing her out of the house or on the huge crowd of tourists forcing her out of her shell. Ms. Block did an excellent job of taking us through Abby's metamorphosis from a recluse in hiding to a woman fully engaged in the happenings of Chapel Isle. Told in first person, we get everything from Abby's perspective and its thought provoking, bittersweet and occasionally funny. While Abby is occasionally snarky about her situation, she's never mean and is at heart a genuinely nice person.

The secondary characters are mostly the townsfolk of Chapel Isle with the addition of a tourist who turns out to be nothing like what he seems. I especially liked Lottie Gilchrist, the owner of Chapel Isle's real estate company, who leases out all of the summer properties and is Abby's landlady. The relationship they have is quite amusing and Lottie is a pretty sharp businesswoman. We also get to watch Abby's relationships with Ruthie, a waitress in town, who's her closest friend, her relationships with Merle, who owns the town hardware store and serves as Chapel Isle's unofficial mayor, and Sheriff Laner, the town's version of law enforcement, who's indebted to Abby for keeping silent about some of his troubles. Every relationship evolves throughout the story. I liked how Ms. Block forced Abby to interact with the people in town; it forced her to get to know them and in the process she learned about herself.

The antagonist of the story is the tourist from out of town, Tim Ullman, who is not what he seems. While he does appear to have an interest in Abby as a woman, he's really after something else and his dark intentions are quite dangerous. While this part of the story is not as well developed as it could have been, it does highlight Abby's vulnerabilities and also makes her think about having a relationship with a man again. This is something which will come in handy when Abby deals with the love/hate relationship she has with Nat Rhone, a fellow newbie to town, who she interacts with throughout both books.

The end of the story revolves around Abby solving the mystery of who's been breaking into the caretaker's cottage and what she does to save both herself and the "treasure". All of the secondary characters are involved and it's great to see the townspeople come together and accept Abby as one of their own. Overall this was a very enjoyable story and though it starts out a little slow, it picks up speed and ends on a very happy note. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Block's work and wonder if we'll see Abby and the people of Chapel Isle once more.

Book Blurb for The Definition of Wind

Independence: the freedom to be yourself—or a day for fireworks, depending on your point of view
Summer has come to Chapel Isle, the quaintly quirky island that Abigail Harker has called home since she moved into the caretaker’s cottage at the local lighthouse. The season ushers in sweltering temperatures, along with throngs of tourists who are turning the sleepy town into pandemonium. The world Abigail fled after tragedy struck is descending upon her doorstep, and she isn’t sure she can stand the heat. 

Tourists and natives alike are buzzing about a sunken treasure in the treacherous shoals off the coast, and clues to its location are supposedly hidden in the caretaker’s cottage. Soon Abigail is the focus of everybody’s attention, including that of a handsome, seductive bachelor. Amid the swarm of vacationers, it’s hard to tell harmless visitors from those harboring dark intentions. 

As Independence Day nears, Abigail must decide: Should she stay on Chapel Isle—risking another heartbreak and even her own safety—or allow the ghosts of her past and the dangers of the present to chase her away?

Night Owl Reviews Aug, 2011 4.25