Category Archives: Block, Ellen

Ellen Block. The Definition of Wind. New York, NY: Bantam, 2011.

Abigail Harker, a Boston lexicologist turned Outer Banks lighthouse keeper, returns in Ellen Block’s sequel to The Language of Sand. A year has passed since the tragic fire that took her young son and husband, and Abby is only slightly closer to healing than she was when she came south to North Carolina’s Chapel Isle. Renting the dilapidated, possibly ghost-infested lighthouse and attached cottage isn’t helping: the toilet is constantly breaking, the windows are swollen, and the heat in the summer is ghastly. Even worse, summer brings crowds of marauding tourists, and Abby has reluctantly agreed to perform small home repairs for the local rental agency, Gilquist Realty. Wasps nests, toilet clogs, and irritable summer people are not a recipe for inner peace.

Neither are home invasions. Abby is dismayed to find that she is of particular interest to a burglar, which she correctly guesses is due to recent hubbub over The Bishop’s Mistress, a ship carrying valuables that sank off the coast of Chapel Isle in the late 18th century. The journals of the lighthouse keeper from that century (which she happened to find in her basement) could provide valuable clues, and the burglar seems to know this. But who could it be? Sheriff Caleb Larner, whom Abby knows to have secretly been a thief? Her landlord, the ditzy and manipulative Lottie? Those arson-enthused teens who are adding even more mayhem to the already tense island? Abby must try to protect the journals, handle the touchy lighthouse, and fend off both wasps and amorous summer suitors. Luckily she has the perfect vocabulary to handle any situation.

Ellen Block has written a simultaneously sensitive and hilarious mystery that happily resists descending into melancholy. Abby Harker is a strong, intelligent personality, perfect as a companion for a day on the Outer Banks, or as the subject of discussion in your local book club.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, or start from the beginning of Abby’s story with The Language of Sand.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Block, Ellen, Coast, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Ellen Block. The Language of Sand. New York: Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks, 2010.

After losing her husband and young son in a devastating house fire, Abigail Harker’s life changes forever.  Everything precious to her has been taken away, and she finds that without her family she cannot resume her life in Boston as a lexicographer.  Abigail’s husband spoke fondly of a small island in North Carolina – Chapel Isle – that he visited when he was a boy, and she decides to move there for a year to feel closer to his spirit.

After making the long drive from Massachusetts to North Carolina, Abigail’s first tour of Chapel Isle is daunting.  The ferry lands at a dock that is eerily unstable, and the property that she rents – a cottage and a lighthouse – is in abysmal condition.  Getting to know the locals is also difficult because most people, although curious about her, appear to be standoffish.  And there is the ghost that “looks after” (or haunts) the lighthouse and whose noises unsettle her daily.

Abigail must make a new life for herself on Chapel Isle while grieving the premature loss of her old life.  Although this is an unbelievably difficult task, over time she gains loyal friends and interesting memories on the island – and new strength.  Abigail, always inspired by words, uses her experiences on Chapel Isle to create a new vocabulary that redefines her life and allows her to survive.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Block, Ellen, Coast, Novels Set in Fictional Places