Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Beachplum Cove: A Novel

Murder disrupts a beautiful beach island vacation, where Julie St. John, a New York gallery curator, and her ten-year-old son, Alex, have rented a summer house belonging to an eccentric gothic mystery writer, Chester Scates, and his wife, Sara, an artist with a roving eye. Julie and Alex make friends with Fred Dumas, a hippie sculptor of beach souvenirs, and his son Joey, and are soon caught up in old and new love triangles and plots of revenge for the lost village of Beachplum Cove, a magical place once peopled with artists and writers, rock stars, counter-culture dropouts, composers and clammers, who were drawn to the free-spirited lifestyle of a town that was doomed when the island was declared a National Seashore. They knew the village would remain only ten years but they could not bear to let go, and they stayed to the end. When the houses were finally torn down and replaced by a ranger station and campground, many of Beachplum Cove’s residents, including Fred and Chester, moved to the nearby town of Ocean View. In Ocean View Julie also makes friends with Craig Benedict, a wealthy art collector, and his son, Mark, a part-time carpenter and full-time perpetual adolescent windsurfer who woos Julie while teaching her to windsurf. When a body is found in the woods near the dunes, clues and motives come to the surface that point to some of Julie and Alex’s new friends: any one of them might be the killer.

Jill Spelman graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans, and studied art with Paul Ninas. She lectured at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota before moving to New York City, where she wrote feature stories for the Museum of the City of New York. She exhibited at the Phoenix Gallery in New York and was a founding member of the Association of Artist-Run Galleries. A former columnist for the Fire Island News, she is now the author of Jill’s Journal at WordPress online. She and her husband now live in San Francisco.

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
5A murder intrudes on the peace and calm of a long lost beach community
By Paulette Cooper Noble
Not only is "Beachplum Cove" an imaginative and tense thriller, but it immerses the reader immediately in the atmosphere, geography and emotional climate of an offbeat and remote ocean resort. You'll be get to know a set of original characters, unexpected plot developments, and a touch of whimsy, too, to make reading this book a complete and satisfying experience.
Bravo, Ms. Spelman!
Paul Noble

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
5Beachplum Cove- a perfect beach read
By DickFarrington
What is so rare as a day in June?

An entire summer of: Sex. Growing up into adolescence. Becoming a mature grownup. Learning the rough life lesson of conflict and compromise. A murder. More than you ever thought you'd know about fine art, and more...in Jill Spelman's novel, "Beachplum Cove."

The main thing about this novel is the the title. "Beachplum Cove" is the cover name for a real community that died by act of U.S. Congress years ago on a summer playground island just east of New York City that many readers may recognize and remember for its open marriage of the five senses. Everything was OK in Beachplum. If you were a traditional religious family, OK. If you smoked a little weed, drank a little too much, slept about a little, and sang folk songs till dawn, OK. So long as you didn't try to ram your lifestyle down anyone else's throat. I was there, too, one of the first homemowners. We all appeciated the good times, and bad, that were allowed we fortunate few, as Spelman narrates here.

There's the usual disclaimer, "all names changed to protect the innocent." But if you've ever been to any community on this island, you'll recognize the whole sandbar. If you ever spent time at the real Beachplum Cove, you'll probably recognize some or all of the characters Jill Spelman paints with such insightful and warts-and-all accuracy.

This novel is not just a good "summer beach read." It will hold up as a "read" through the winter and on to next summer of 2015. By then, Spelman may be re-visiting Beachplum Cove for another go at it: there are still many untold stories there.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
5Xanedu Lost.
By Robin E. Levin
Julie, a divorced art historian,has come to Atlantic Island with her ten year old son Alex for a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. There are no cars on the island and their rented cottage contains no television. She and Alex encounter a tight-knit community of Islanders. Julie soon has three men interested in getting to know her better. There is the young handyman Mark Benedict, his wealthy father Craig, and the widower Fred, whose ten year old son Joey soon becomes close friends with Alex. She also meets Chester Scates and his wife Sara Doon, who live on a houseboat, and unbeknownst to Julie, have rented her their cottage. Chester, Sara and Fred are former inhabitants of Beachplumb Cove, an idyllic community on the Island which was evicted by the federal government when they took the land over for a park Both Fred and Chester have bitter feelings about losing their paradise. Chester dreams of sailing around the world in his boat, but only after he has gotten some revenge.
Julie's vacation is delightful until one day she and Mark find a body and her son Alex disappears.

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