When feeling down and in need of a change, what could be better than to get away and lease a coastal cottage in Maine in August? This is what Lottie Wilkes and Rose Arbuthnot think when they spot an ad for the rental of Hopewell Cottage on the bulletin board at their children's preschool. Though the two are mere acquaintances, the appeal of escaping the heat and drudgery New York City offers great allure. Because the rate is exorbitant, they decided to get others to chip in and join them.
The owner, Robert SanSouci, was bequeathed the property from a long-lost aunt is fussy about who he will rent to. He believes only those who are struggling over personal problems are the best candidates for the magic afforded by his home, which is purported to cure all ills.
Lottie's husband Jon is buried in his work as a lawyer and never seems to find time for her or their three-year-old son, Ethan, which causes Lottie distress. In addition, their intimacy has deteriorated over the past year, and Lottie wonders if their marriage is over.
Rose's husband, Fred, a well-known author, penning bestsellers under a pseudonym, also is bound to his craft and not his wife or young twins, Bea and Ben. Rose is anxious about high-strung and uncontrollable Ben, a factor in the possibility that he will not be welcome back to the preschool in the fall. If only he could be easy going and charming as Bea. Along with her stress, Fred does not want to be bothered with Rose's worries or the children, making a good case for her to take a month off to sojourn in Maine.
They manage to locate two other tenants to split the enormous cost: Caroline Dester and Beverly Fisher. Caroline, and actress, embarrassed herself when she didn't receive the Oscar at the awards show and was photographed crying her heart out.
Beverly, unknown to Lottie and Rose, turns out to be an elderly gentleman who is grieving over the loss of not only his lover, a famous song and lyric writer, but also his adored feline, Possum. Given his deceased partner's finances, he doesn't have the wherewithal, ability, or desire to deal with them.
Both Beverly and Caroline want their space and to be left alone, to lick their wounds in private. Upon arriving at the "cottage" they observe it is more of a mansion, and hope its vastness will fulfill their need for solitude.
Things are strained with the guests at first as they adjust to their new digs; however, the spell of the island's tangy salt air, invigorating ocean, and everlasting days with no responsibilities allows them to bond.
The descriptions of the tiny fictitious Little Lost Island make this a heartwarming read, allowing the reader absorb the briny air, the taste of boiled lobsters, and cozy gatherings that bring one back to the languorous days of long ago endless summers.