Set in the near future, where climate change has wreaked havoc with weather and water levels, Vigil Harbor explores the lives of people living in an affluent and mostly sheltered coastal community in Massachusetts. The architect Austin Kepner who builds homes designed to withstand the fury of intense storms; his stepson, Brecht, who has returned to Vigil Harbor after an encounter with eco-terrorism leaves him unable to continue living in New York; the divorced marine biologist who observes and despairs about the changing ocean; the landscaper who creates beauty that can withstand the elements; and his wife Connie, a Vigil Harbor native, all find their lives woven together by an act of terrorism and its repercussions. Absorbing characters and story.
When two unexpected visitors arrive in an insular coastal village, they threaten the equilibrium of a community already confronting climate instability, political violence, and domestic upheavals—a cast of unforgettable characters from the rich imagination of the National Book Award–winning, best-selling author of Three Junes.
A decade from now, in the historic town of Vigil Harbor, there is a rash of divorces among the yacht-club set, a marine biologist despairs at the state of the world, a spurned wife is bent on revenge, and the renowned architect Austin Kepner pursues a passion for building homes designed to withstand the escalating fury of relentless storms. Austin’s stepson, Brecht, has dropped out of college in New York and returned home after narrowly escaping one of the terrorist acts that, like hurricanes, have become increasingly common.
Then two strangers arrive: a stranded traveler with subversive charms and a widow seeking clues about a past lover with ties to Austin—a woman who may have been more than merely human. These strangers and their hidden motives come together unexpectedly in an incident that endangers lives—including Brecht’s—with dramatic repercussions for the entire town.
Vigil Harbor reveals Julia Glass in all her virtuosity, braiding multiple voices and dazzling strands of plot into a story where mortal longings and fears intersect with immortal mysteries of the deep as well as of the heart.
About the Author
JULIA GLASS is the author of six previous books of fiction, including the best-selling Three Junes, winner of the National Book Award, and I See You Everywhere, winner of Binghamton University’s John Gardner Fiction Book Award. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Glass is a Senior Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emerson College. She lives with her family north of Boston.
“In her new novel, Julia Glass gathers a combustible cast of characters, places them ten years from now, and strikes a match. Fast-paced, immersive, and imaginatively daring, Vigil Harbor is a brave look at our climate perils, our political moment, and our deep dependence on one another.” —Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers
“Julia Glass gives us exactly what we need during these trans-apocalyptic times, a novel of heart and humanity set against the growing insanity. I ate it up.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Our Country Friends
“Vigil Harbor is a gripping work of the imagination, its place and ensemble cast both familiar and wonderfully uncanny. Julia Glass’s virtuosity has a sweeping, almost tidal quality befitting the landscape of the harbor itself—I found myself in awe at the ease with which she moves across both time and minds.” —Daniel Mason, author of The Winter Soldier
“This novel has it all: a vibrant and unforgettable cast of characters, an evocative setting, and a plot full of secrets and surprises. Glass gives us her signature wit and wisdom about the world we live in now (and where we might be headed if we’re not careful). A must-read.” —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Friends and Strangers
"An engrossing, richly drawn and exquisitely told story of small-town residents grappling with the difficulties of changing times." —People, Book of the Week
“Sprawling and engrossing. . . . Glass is a masterful builder of fictional people, an expert at charting the architecture of entire lives. . . . Vigil Harbor transcends the mood of collective but cloistered worry and becomes a novel about what remains.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A richly imagined world . . . the passionate, mysterious, and mysteriously passionate characters in Julia Glass’s new novel, Vigil Harbor, . . . [create] an intimate and satisfying tableau of humanity . . . [with] felicitous attention to the nuances of small town life, from the pleasure found in pageantry to the nearly mythic status of longtime teachers. But ultimately this is a story about people, about understanding and acceptance, about love and violence, and about how no matter where we live, we need each other, especially when times are tough.” —Boston Globe
"A novelist of fluid compassion adept at creating plots anchored in the ordinary but driven into disaster, Glass adds a drop of mythology to the whirl of this intricately suspenseful story. With sorrow and humor, beauty and fury rendered in prose as exquisitely nuanced and mutable as the seacoast setting, Glass dramatizes the psychic toll of climate change." —Booklist (starred review)
"Glass reveals the state of the world using one small coastal community, Vigil Harbor . . . Deftly weaving together eight intersecting stories, Glass offers fiction steeped in current events that her loyal followers will appreciate." —Donna Bettencourt, Library Journal
"An insular Massachusetts coastal town finds the world’s woes at its doorstep . . . As the story progresses via no less than eight narrators, each sharply individualized, we are reminded that eventually the bizarre becomes normal ... But Glass’s sharply drawn portraits of people coping as best they can with a world in crisis will convince most readers to go along happily for the ride. Provocative themes, strong characterizations, and propulsive storytelling combine for another great read from Glass." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"National Book Award winner Glass (A House Among the Trees) adds mystery and adventure to an engrossing near-future story of the perils of climate change ... As the story unfolds, Glass skillfully ratchets up the tension ... leading to a satisfying conclusion. Both nightmarish and enjoyable, this will have readers hooked for the long haul.” —Publishers Weekly