I Swear It’s Really a Romance: The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, by Colleen Oakley

When you pick a book about a grieving widow on a dying island as a palate cleanser, you know you’ve been reading some dark material.

With recent reads like Shuggie Bain and Filthy Animals, both of which are amazing, by the way, I needed something that didn’t leave me feeling gut punched. Thank you, Colleen Oakley, for bringing a little sweetness to my bedside table with “The Invisible Husband of Frick Island.”

Out this May and just in time for summer reading plans comes the tale of Anders and Piper — one a local newspaper reporter looking for that one big story and the other a recent widow that hasn’t quite come to terms with the loss.

The easy thing is to call this a love story between two people but for me, this is really a love story with a lifestyle. Or about finding yourself in the last place you’d think to look.

Anders spent his childhood falling in love with the newspaper business — the Hollywood version of it, at least. Now out of school and working at a very small, local paper, covering community-sponsored cake walks wasn’t exactly the type of scoop he’d be writing about. But that small town newspaper assignment got him on the path he was destined to travel and landed him on Frick Island, a step back in time (Almost no internet! No alcohol! No one locks their doors at night!) and home to Piper, the widow of a water man, and herself a staunch ecological conservationist.

For fear of giving too much away, there’s not a lot I can say about Piper except this —she’s not crazy. No one on the island is, really. It’s just that Frick Island has but a few years left unless someone can bring enough attention to the climate change issue to make a difference and gee, if only someone would write, or maybe even podcast about it, well ….

“The Invisible Husband of Frick Island” is a mystery wrapped in a romance in a place where everyone knows everyone’s business. Which is what makes a mystery so difficult to pull off. I know it’s going to take some effort post-pandemic for me to embrace large crowds and lots of noise (a Saturday afternoon on Southport Ave. was jarring to the senses …) so I might have a little more affection for a sleepy, East Coast strip with a single restaurant and general store than the next reader, but to me it just kind of sounds like nirvana.

I’m rooting for Anders and Piper. I’m rooting for Frick Island. If you’re are looking for something wholesome, heartwarming and kind to its core, don’t pass this up.

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