The second installment of the Snow Island trilogy continues the story of the inhabitants of this isolated island off the New England coast. Rachael, the daughter of Nate and Phoebe Shattuck (who were minor, yet intriguing characters in the original novel), has lived most of her adult years on the mainland. At the age of thirty-three, she endures a lonely, reclusive life, trying to adjust to her divorce and the recent death of her mother. When her cantankerous, obstinate father is injured in the summer of 1965, she decides to return to Snow to take care of him and there discovers her mother’s diaries. This discovery leads her on an inner journey to understand Phoebe’s life and her family’s history and to discover her own future.
The focus of Evening Ferry is the Shattuck family, and readers who hope to see the stories of other familiar islanders resumed will be disappointed. Alice Daggett, George Tibbits and other old-timers make brief appearances, but they play no substantial role. Rachael’s melancholy story creeps along interspersed with Phoebe’s engaging diary entries of her struggles as wife and mother on this isolated and insulated island during the 1930s and 40s. The gentle quietness that characterized the first book has, in my opinion, metamorphosed into a somber gloominess that penetrates this novel. I believe this atmosphere perfectly matches the characters’ stories; however, I found this novel too depressing for my taste.