Author E. Lockhart grew up in Cambridge and Seattle and spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard, so she used the destination as the backdrop for her 2014 psychological thriller and New York Times best-selling book “We Were Liars,” and again in “Family of Liars: The Prequel to We Were Liars,” released on Tuesday.
The book, about a teenage girl suffering from amnesia while spending the summer on her family’s private island near Martha’s Vineyard, was named a best book of the year by Time, The Wall Street Journaland The Boston Globe and was a New York Times best-seller in 2014 and again in 2020 after going viral on TikTok.
There are currently 93 million views of #wewereliars on TikTok, with many emotional reactions to the novel’s unexpected ending.
“I was super surprised,” Lockhart said about the many TikTok videos inspired by her book. “I felt like I won the lottery, really, in a way.”
Both books are set on a fictional private island off the coast of Massachusetts not far from Martha’s Vineyard. The characters often travel to Martha’s Vineyard for outings.
The author, who will travel to the Vineyard once again this summer and stay at her family’s home in Chilmark, shared some of her favorite island spots, some of which are also featured in her books.
When Lockhart seeks a beach with breathtaking beauty, she heads to Aquinnah.
“For a beach walk, I often drive to Aquinnah Beach, which is famous for its cliffs,” she said. “The cliffs are just unbelievably gorgeous. It’s well worth the drive and the parking fee.”
The cliffs, a National Historic Landmark, were recently named among the most stunning scenic locations in the Northeast by AAA.
Visitors can also see the 1799 Gay Head Light, the oldest lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard.
This popular island shop known for serving up sweet treats after dark is known for its donuts — and its lines.
“I let my children wait in line,” said Lockhart, mother of two, with a chuckle. “I just eat them.”
Customers looking for a late-night donut fix line up at the company’s back door during the shop’s famous back door hours from 7 pm to 1 am
The bakery’s daytime hours during the summer season are 8 am to 3 pm
Beach Road, between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown
In “Family of Liars,” one of Lockhart’s characters goes for a bike ride on Beach Road, a scenic stretch Lockhart has admired while spending time on the Vineyard.
“You can rent a lot of bikes in Edgartown, and one of them takes a bike ride on this beautiful road that has water on both sides,” she said. “So it’s a really popular destination for bicyclers.”
The six-mile paved path offers views of the Nantucket Sound on one side and Sengekontacket Pond on the other.
Visitors looking for an unpretentious breakfast spot should head to Dock Street Coffee Shop, Lockhart said.
“It’s just eggs and strong coffee and sausages and bacon and you sit at the counter, and it feels like it’s probably been like that since 1952,” she said.
She called the restaurant an “unvarnished, friendly community inside the more manicured town of Edgartown.”
The restaurant is open daily year-round from 6:30 am to 1:30 pm
Lockhart has been frequenting Edgartown Books since she was a child, so she couldn’t resist sending her characters to the book shop in her novels.
“It has an upstairs, which makes it a very magical bookstore,” Lockhart said. “I love a bookstore that has an upstairs, because you feel like you’re in some kind of secret library.”
And if all that literary exploring sparks hunger, food isn’t far away.
“It has a really wonderful restaurant behind it called Behind the Bookstore,” Lockhart said.
The store is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and hours are extended during the summer months.
Hungry travelers should shop at Edgartown Meat & Fish Market, according to Lockhart, who called it “a gorgeous place to go.”
Shoppers can choose from fresh seafood, meat, prepared foods, a bagel bakery, cafe, and more.
“They have all this pre-marinated meat and beautiful fish, and shish kabobs made up,” she said. “So you can barbecue with very little trouble and get all kinds of beautiful fixings as well.”
The store is open daily from 7 am to 7 pm
Lockhart said the island’s colorful gingerbread houses, located at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, a National Historic Landmark, are worth getting out of the car for a closer look.
“The ones you can see from the big streets are not nearly as delightful as the ones you can see if you actually walk through the Camp Meeting Association,” she said.
The cottages are privately owned, so visitors are asked to stay on the pathways. Walking tours are offered in July and August.
For a nature walk full of whimsical art, travelers can follow a Sculpture Trail through the woods at Island Folk Pottery in Chilmark.
The destination is the home of artists Heather Goff and Bill O’Callaghan, who created the artistic trail using their own art.
“It’s enchanting as an adult, but it’s really great for kids, too,” Lockhart said.
The trail is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm from Easter through December. Visitors can also visit a pottery shop.
A small working farm in Chilmark that Lockhart returns to again and again has captured the author’s heart.
Lockhart said she adores the Native Earth Teaching Farm, where owners Randy and Rebecca give tours, teach classes, and host a community garden. Outdoor classes include wool processing, hand spinning, knitting, foraging, and goat training and herding.
“We visit Native Earth Teaching Farm absolutely every summer,” she said.
The farm is open year-round by appointment.
Menemsha, a small fishing village in the town of Chilmark, is where Lockhart enjoys summer sunsets.
The author loves grabbing a bite at Menemsha Galley before walking to nearby Menemsha Public Beach.
“You have the most wonderful views of the harbor,” Lockhart said. “And it’s a great place to watch the sunset, down on Menemsha Beach. The sun just sets straight into the sea there. It’s very magical.”
Menemsha Galley, which opens for the season each spring, serves lobster rolls, burgers, salads, chowder, fish sandwiches, and more in a picturesque setting. There is also soft-serve ice cream for dessert.
In “We Were Liars,” Lockhart’s characters attend a Farm Institute gala inspired by the The Farm Institute in Edgartown, where her child once attended farm camp and the author witnessed workers preparing for an event. She remembers seeing big tents and people bringing in flowers.
Visitors can stroll through the barn, visit the animals, take cooking classes, attend hands-on farm programs, and more.
“The Farm Institute is wonderful,” Lockhart said.
It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm during the summer.
You’ll find Lockhart at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market, billed as the island’s oldest and largest farmer’s market, twice a week throughout the summer.
“It’s really incredible and includes all kinds of local farmers,” she said, adding folks will find everything from cheese to baked goods to lavender.
The market is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from mid-June through October.
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