Short story collection by Eastport writer probes lives on fictional Downeast islands

From a distance islands are mysterious, pushing us away, daring us to forget them. Yet, still, that ribbon of blue water that separates is like a magnet, a siren’s eternal call pulling at our thoughts. And in a remote area such as Down East, islands are commonly shrouded in fog — a floating veil that conceals their secrets. We wonder: Who lives there, what is life like there—who loves, who hates and, most importantly, what stories might islands harbor?

In “Island Secrets: Stories from the Coast of Maine,” Catherine JS Lee pulls from her own island experience providing a captivating journey of island life through a splendid collection of short stories. Lee is a seventh-generation Mainer who writes, teaches and has had her short stories and haiku published widely in a variety of print and online journals. Lee lives in Eastport.

From a dozen well-crafted stories comes an abundance of life situations from a place known as Way Down East and its two fictional islands, Spruce Island and East Haven. One is a working-class island where fishing is everyday life; the other is a summer retreat for those simply looking to dip their toes Down East. Separately the stories show a penchant for the emotional response to island life; together, they are a testament from an observant writer comfortable with it all.

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