Martha’s Vineyard is a special and unique New England island that captures your heart fully once you visit, and these are the best fiction books set in Martha’s Vineyard.
Whether you are a newbie, a local, or a Summer visitor, these Martha’s Vineyard books will fill you with it’s breezy spirit and the Americana pride of its distinct towns, which keep everyone from politicians to celebrities coming back for more.
And if you are doing a 50 States reading challenge, these books about Martha’s Vineyard make great picks for Massachusetts.
It’s truly the best Summer vacation spot in the country! (Personal opinion) We go there every year, and we got engaged there in 2018!
So, without further ado, these are the best fiction books set in Martha’s Vineyard.
Books Set in Martha’s Vineyard
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Best for fans of suspense
- New York Times bestseller
- Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2017 International Thriller Writers Award For Best Novel
Before the Fall begins ominously, with the crash of a private plane headed to New York from Martha’s Vineyard, reminiscent in some ways of the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. You will hold your breath during this suspenseful intro sequence, knowing, before the characters do, what is about to become of them.
Ten of the passengers were wealthy, and one was an unlucky painter. The only survivors are the painter and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last member of a wealthy and powerful television news media mogul’s family.
The media goes wild and accusations fly against the painter. As the firestorm heats up, we learn the secrets of the plane passengers, including the tv mogul, which brought them to that fateful day.
Despite the plane’s fall within the ocean, much of the book takes place on Martha’s Vineyard.
I particularly recommend it as a good fiction recommendation for men, who are likely to enjoy the corporate mysteries set on Martha’s Vineyard this novel presents.
Chances Are… by Richard Russo
Best for fans of literary fiction
Amazon Editors’ Pick
I’m so excited to recommend Chances Are! While oftentimes, books are over-hyped and then under-deliver, Chances Are is one of those books about Martha’s Vineyard you may not have heard of but OVER delivers and, after reading it, you want to scream its greatness from the rooftops to convince everyone to pick it up.
It’s part coming of age, part mystery, and 100% Martha’s Vineyard, as three old college buddies gather on the island and wonder whatever happened to the college girl they were all once in love with, who happened to go missing decades earlier.
There are great plot twists you don’t see coming, but at the same time, Chances Are is not a thriller– it’s more of a literary mystery. The characters are complex, the dialogue is realistic and the Martha’s Vineyard references are perfection.
I truly hope this review inspires you to check out this sleeper hit! It’s not just a good one, it’s a GREAT one, and “Chances Are” you will love this satisfying work. (hehe)
Counting Chickens by T. Elizabeth Bell
Best for those who love Martha’s Vineyard local life and references
Counting Chickens is one of the best new fiction books about Martha’s Vineyard. Author T. Elizabeth Bell is a lawyer and an author who lives on Martha’s Vineyard (part-time). She has also become a friend to me!
It’s a plot-driven, friends-to-lovers rom-com, brimming with local charm and references. The main character Remy is a concierge on the island managing a handsome, rich client and a long-time friend interested in her affections.
At the same time, she is tending to her chickens and a loveable dog she inherited. Martha’s Vineyard author Bell so perfectly captures the charm of the island with her tone, dialogue, and very natural references. The way she writes is exactly how Martha’s Vineyard feels to me, and her stories are light and breezy for a beach day.
Goats in the Time of Love by T. Elizabeth Bell
Best for fans of light romance
Goats in the Time of Love is “A Martha’s Vineyard love story with goats, a dog, and some recipes.”
Goats in the Time of Love is for lovers of plot-driven books, as a lot happens during one fateful Summer between Sky, a wealthy attorney escaping the big city after an engagement gone bad, and Nate, a local goatscaper whose goats she hires to clear the brush and open the view at her new cottage.
There’s a lot of rich people drama, reminiscent of Elin Hilderbrand books, and also a whole lot of local Vineyard heart, highlighting the farms and fishing villages on the beloved island. So many little touches made me smile, like the references to the line to get onto the Chappy ferry and the lobster shacks in Menemsha. And did I mention there’s a whole section of recipes?!
I only wish I had Goats in the Time of Love in my hands while I was on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard.
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
Best for fans of light sibling stories
Instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller
If I could read only one author for the rest of my life it would be Elin Hilderbrand. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are my happy places, and since most of her books take place there, they always feel like a mental escape to me. And I love how, while they are beach reads, the characters and storylines have some complexity.
I loved the concept of The Identicals from the outset — identical twin ladies almost age 40, were split by their divorcing parents as children — Tabitha stayed in Nantucket with their fashion designer mother and Harper went to Martha’s Vineyard with their father. Around age 25, the twins became further estranged by a tragic event, the exact details of which unfold over the course of the novel.
When they experience difficult events (not to give anything away) with their parents, they “switch” islands for a Summer and tackle both their past and present lives.
I loved how this book incorporated a lot more of Martha’s Vineyard (my favorite of the two islands) than most of her other books and loved all the references to our favorite spots (including my beloved coffee and bagel shop Mocha Motts!).
Although I didn’t like it when the adult siblings took “revenge” on each other, those parts of the book were small, and lessons were learned, so overall it was another really enjoyable Elin Hilderbrand read that I would not hesitate to recommend.
Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Best for fans of historical fiction
#1 New York Times bestseller
As mentioned … I love Elin Hilderbrand. Summer of ’69 is my favorite Elin Hilderbrand book to date, and it was one of my favorite books of 2019. However, I debated including it here, because I already named it as one of the best books set in Summer, and because it mostly takes place on Nantucket.
That being said, the portions that take place on Martha’s Vineyard include one of the most notorious events in it’s history — the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick after Senator Ted Kennedy’s car drove off a bridge.
So, here I am, recommending it again. Summer of ’69 exquisitely marries a historic Summer with the light New England beach setting readers all know and love in Hilderbrand’s books.
It’s the story of the Levin family Summer. In 1969, Blair is pregnant with twins in Boston, Kirby is working in Martha’s Vineyard, Tiger is fighting in Vietnam and only young Jessie is vacationing in Nantucket with their grandmother.
In addition to the Chappaquiddick scandal, a lot happens, including an American man landing on the moon, civil rights tensions, and the controversial Vietnam war.
Summer of ’69 both immerses the reader in the Levin family’s lives and transports you to the 60s at the same time. If you ask me, it’s Hilderbrand at her finest!
For more, read my full review of Summer of ’69.
Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster
Best for fans of light historical fiction and coming-of-age stories
Make room, because we officially have a new historical fiction author to follow! Foster’s debut, Summer Darlings, is perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams, who love what I call “soap opera historical fiction” — historic books with some real people and events, and a whole lot of drama. She’s also one of the kindest authors with whom I have had the pleasure of speaking.
In Summer Darlings, it’s 1962, and lower class Brooklyn coed Heddy becomes an island nanny for a wealthy family. As she gets an inside view into the lives of the rich and famous (cue the Kennedy references!) and dates men of different classes, she wonders whether a rich lifestyle will solve her problems or create more of them.
It was a great read and a great debut book about Martha’s Vineyard, and it presents a lot of great questions to consider as Heddy comes of age. There’s even some suspense!
Summer Darlings also inspired me to recreate one of my favorite photos inspired by the gorgeous cover art (I call these #lookofthebook on Instagram).
And I was lucky enough to interview Brooke Lea Foster on the blog as well — it’s an insightful read whether or not you read the book.
Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin
Best for fans of diverse reads
Summer on the Bluffs is a new Martha’s Vineyard book series that takes place in our favorite place to stay in Martha’s Vineyard — Oak Bluffs! It’s a Black Lives Matter book filled with diverse characters bringing their own points of view to the island.
It’s about a high society godmother of three twentysomething women, all invited to spend one last Summer with her on the island before she chooses one to whom she will give her exclusive estate.
Each of the goddaughters is grappling with events in their own lives over the course of the Summer, and beyond that, their godmother must reveal the secrets behind how and why she became part of their lives. These secrets have the power to forever change their relationships.
This book combined a lot of things I love: Martha’s Vineyard, light family drama and diverse characters.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
Best for fans of coming-of-age stories
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
I’ve been reading Judy Blume since I was a child, and I first read this back when it came out and I had no idea I would ever travel to Martha’s Vineyard, let alone do so every year and get engaged there!
In Summer Sisters, in the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard’s life forever changes when dazzling and reckless Caitlin Somers becomes her friend. Vix enters the world of privilege, with vacations on the exclusive Martha’s Vineyard, where their friendship blooms.
Years later, Vix is working in New York City, and Caitlin is getting married in Martha’s Vineyard. Although their friendship has faded, Caitlin begs Vix to come to be her maid of honor.
Vix will go, in order to understand what happened during their last Summer.
Summer Sisters is one of those Martha’s Vineyard books I didn’t want to end and wanted more like it at the time (but Bookstagram and Facebook groups didn’t exist so I didn’t know where to go from there, once I turned the final page). It’s a coming of age story I hope to read again soon.
A Vineyard Summer by Jean Stone
Best for fans of mysteries
A Vineyard Summer is the second in a Martha’s Vineyard book series by Martha’s Vineyard author Jean Stone, about a local writer, Annie, and, similar to other New England Summer novels Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner and The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand, it involves a crime at a wedding.
As Annie struggles to find a new home on the island and to figure out who poisoned the bridesmaid at the wedding and why, familial tensions rise to the surface.
What I love about this series is how truly “Martha’s Vineyard” it feels. The many local references and New England mannerisms of the characters aren’t gratuitous at all — they feel utterly realistic in this mystery set on Martha’s Vineyard and will satisfy those looking to feel like they are back on this special island.
Those are the best fiction books set in Martha’s Vineyard.
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