The Lost Letters from Martha's Vineyard: A Novel

Image of The Lost Letters from Martha's Vineyard: A Novel
Release Date: 
May 21, 2024
Mariner Books
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“Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez is quoted as saying on the frontispiece of The Lost Letters from Martha’s Vineyard.

Mercy Welles, a 1950s Hollywood ingenue on the verge of breakout stardom with an Oscar-nomination, has a fiancé, Louis Flynn, who was a director hoping to make it into the big time as well, suddenly vanishes, her disappearance remaining a mystery.

Kit O’Neill, a junior television producer for the popular Signature with Lucinda Cross show who lives and works in Manhattan, meets up with her sister Claire in Rye, New York, to sort through

the belongings of their grandmother who recently passed away. But instead of just a sad and tedious chore, the two stumble upon a mystery. Their beloved grandmother, who they knew as Nan, the one who raised them, taught Kit how to make her famed vanilla apple pie and told the two sisters not to always take the easy road, but to explore, question, and fight as well as always be brave, was not the woman they thought she was.

“Lucinda picks up a photograph of Nan, taken in the 1970s, that Kit extracted from an old photo album.

“‘She changed her hair drastically, and of course she's older here, and a few pounds heavier, Lucinda says. ‘But I can see it. Your grandmother and Mercy Welles were clearly the same person.’”

Kit, an investigator both by nature and by her career choice, with the help of her boss Lucinda, begins to make connections to her grandmother’s past, when she was known as Mercy Welles. She finds Alastair Clarkson, a director of one of only three movies Mercy made in her short career. He is still alive, living in an apartment on the Upper East Side, and arranges for Kit to meet him for lunch under the guise of doing a story about Mercy without revealing her relationship to the missing starlet. She also meets with Cass Goldman, who was Mercy’s roommate when she first moved to Hollywood. At first open and informative, Cass suddenly becomes evasive when they meet, saying she no longer has the letters that Mercy wrote to her from Martha’s Vineyard after she retreated there upon finding out Louis had been unfaithful.

But why did she stay? And what happened that summer on Martha’s Vineyard that changed the trajectory of Mercy’s life?

These are questions that Kit feels compelled to answer as she searches for the truth of her grandmother’s life.

Lost Letters is a story of suspense, romance, and discovery, and  a compelling journey into the past and how the decisions our ancestors made intertwine and influence our lives now.