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Discover the best fiction books set on Martha’s Vineyard, a unique New England island that captures your heart fully once you visit. I visit there annually and continually read as many books set there as I can to recommend to you.

Whether you are a newbie, a local, or a Summer visitor, these Martha’s Vineyard books will fill you with its breezy spirit and the Americana pride of its distinct towns, which keep everyone from politicians to celebrities coming back for more. Let’s get literary!

summer darlings book in ocean park oak bluffs ma

Quick List of the Best Books Set on Martha’s Vineyard

  1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  2. Chances Are! by Richard Russo
  3. Counting Chickens by T. Elizabeth Bell
  4. Goats in the Time of Love by T. Elizabeth Bell
  5. The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
  6. Our Place on the Island by Erika Montgomery
  7. Split Rock by Holly Hodder Eger
  8. Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand (my top pick)
  9. Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin
  10. The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther
  11. Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster
  12. Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay
  13. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
  14. The Vineyard Remains by Addison McKnight
  15. A Vineyard Summer by Jean Stone

Details of Martha’s Vineyard Books Set in New England, Massachusetts

Read these books in The Literary Lifestyle’s Summer Reading Challenge

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

  • New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2017 International Thriller Writers Award For Best Novel

Best for fans of suspense

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Before the Fall begins ominously, with the crash of a private plane headed to New York from Martha’s Vineyard. It’s reminiscent 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.

It’s especially good fiction for men, who are likely to enjoy the corporate mysteries this novel presents.


Chances Are… by Richard Russo

  • Amazon Editors’ Pick

Best for fans of literary fiction

My Review: ★★★★☆

While oftentimes, books are overhyped and then underdeliver, Chances Are is one of those books that you may not have heard of but overdelivers. After reading it, you want to scream about it from the rooftops to convince everyone to read it.

It’s part coming of age, part mystery, and 100% Martha’s Vineyard. Three old college buddies gather on the island and wonder what happened to the college girl they were all once in love with, who went missing decades earlier.

There are great plot twists you won’t see coming, but this 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 perfect.

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 of art.


Counting Chickens by T. Elizabeth Bell

Best for those who love Martha’s Vineyard local life and references

My Review: ★★★★☆

Counting Chickens is a great escape book. It’s a plot-driven, friends-to-lovers romantic comedy brimming with local charm and references. The main character, Remy, is a concierge on the island who manages a handsome, rich client and a long-time friend interested in her affection. At the same time, she tends to her chickens and a loveable dog she inherited.

This local author 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. 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

My Review: ★★★☆☆

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,” but there’s also a whole lot of local Vineyard “heart,” highlighting the farms and fishing villages on the beloved island.

So many little touches in this light read made me smile, like the references to the line to get onto the Chappy ferry and the lobster shacks in Menemsha.

There’s also a whole section of inspired recipes to make at the end!


The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

  • Instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller

Best for fans of light family stories

My Review: ★★★★☆

I loved the concept of the summer-themed bookThe Identicals, from the outset. Identical female twins nearly 40 years old were split by their divorcing parents as children. Tabitha Frost 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 with their parents, they “switch” islands for summer and tackle both their past and present lives.

I loved how The Identicals incorporated more of Martha’s Vineyard than most of Hilderbrand’s other books (including references to my favorite spots like the beloved coffee and bagel shop Mocha Motts).

It was another really enjoyable one of Elin Hilderbrand’s books.


Our Place on the Island by Erika Montgomery

Best for fans of family dramas

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Our Place on the Island is a multigenerational book set on Martha’s Vineyard. The Campbell women gather to celebrate their matriarch’s remarriage, which serves as a backdrop for their personal dilemmas. One renowned chef grapples with her restaurant’s financial problems while her mother copes with grief and concerns about her mother’s remarriage.

As the wedding day approaches, secrets from the past surface in dual timelines, challenging the family’s understanding of love, motherhood, and marriage.

Reading this book is like sitting on the front porch with your mother and grandmother on a hazy summer day.


Split Rock by Holly Hodder Eger

  • Winner, Silver Medalist, Finalist, and Semi-Finalist for several awards

Best for fans of light, yet heartfelt, beach reads

My Review: ★★★☆☆

In Split Rock, Annie Tucker’s life reflects the “split rock” in Lambert’s Cove in the town of Tisbury.

After Annie’s beloved Aunt Faye dies, she inherits her Martha’s Vineyard home and dog, where she spends the summer with her three children while her husband is out of the country for work.

The island reminds her of her young love, whom she happens to run into, causing her to consider what life with him would have looked like.

It’s a page-turner that’s absolutely perfect for the beach. It has quick pacing, a storyline full of warmth, and all of the charm of a summer spent on Martha’s Vineyard.


Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

  • #1 New York Times bestseller

Best for fans of historical fiction

My Review: ★★★★★ (My top pick on this list)

Summer of ’69 is the best Elin Hilderbrand book (and I’ve read most of them)! It blends historical fiction, family drama, and pop culture into one.

The plot follows the Levin family during a monumental summer on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

While they usually all spend the summer in Nantucket with their grandmother, this year, Blair is pregnant with twins in Boston, Kirby is working on Martha’s Vineyard, Tiger is fighting in Vietnam, and only young Jessie is vacationing with their grandmother on Nantucket.

When the Summer of ’69 heats up, Senator Ted Kennedy’s car sinks in Chappaquiddick on Martha’s Vineyard, causing the death of a woman. Additionally, a man flies to the moon, and this all occurs amidst a backdrop of civil rights and war.

Summer of ’69 immerses you in the family’s lives and transports you to the 1960s at the same time, making for an extremely satisfying read. I simply could not stop researching the book and its historical context!


Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin

Best for fans of diverse reads

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Summer on the Bluffs is filled with diverse characters and viewpoints. A wealthy godmother of three twentysomething women invites them to spend one last summer with her before she chooses one to whom she will give the island estate come summer’s end.

Each of these goddaughters deals with life issues during this time. Meanwhile, their godmother also reveals the secrets behind her becoming part of their lives, which may forever change their relationships.

Read this one for light family drama and diverse characters.


The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

Best for fans of Young Adult romances

My Review: ★★★★☆

The Summer of Broken Rules is is summer romance novel inspired by Taylor Swift’s songs!

Meredith is a teen coping with the loss of her beloved sister when she visits the family’s Martha’s Vineyard island farm for a week that will culminate in her cousin’s wedding.

Prior to the wedding, the family plays a competitive game of Assassin and, in an attempt to win it all in memory of her sister, Meredith forms an alliance with a cute groomsman named Wit.

But it’s not all fun and games when their adventures around the island stir up romantic feelings. At issue are whether Meredith can still focus on the game, and what will become of this whirlwind romance when the week concludes.

It’s filled with all those warm and fuzzy feelings of lighthearted young summer love. It left me with a huge smile on my face.

Related Post: Taylor Swift Book Recommendations


Summer Darlings by Brooke Lea Foster

Best for fans of light historical fiction and coming-of-age stories

My Review: ★★★☆☆

Summer Darlings is both historical and dramatic, like a soap opera. It made me think of what the 1960s on Martha’s Vineyard may have felt like for the Kennedys.

In 1962, Brooklyn coed Heddy becomes a nanny for a wealthy family on Martha’s Vineyard.

As she gets an insider’s look into the lives of the rich and famous and dates various island men of different classes, she comes of age as she ultimately questions whether a rich lifestyle will solve her problems or create more of them.

There’s even some suspense! Read it for a historical fiction narrative that feels juicy at the same time.


Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay

Best for fans of protagonists coping with a disability

My Review: ★★☆☆☆

Besides having the absolute perfect title, Summer Reading is a romantic comedy in which a chef with dyslexia (who dislikes reading) has an unexpected summer on Martha’s Vineyard.

While overseeing her half-brother’s participation in a library-based robotics competition, she crosses paths with the library’s interim director, who is searching for his unknown father. A surprising mutual attraction leads her to create her dream cookbook and help him find his father.

Book lovers will appreciate how their relationship blossomed around books and reading. Despite some heavier themes, it feels light overall and is fairly low on spice for closed-door romance readers.


Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Best for fans of coming-of-age stories

My Review: ★★★★☆

In Summer Sisters, it’s 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, which is filled with exclusive vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, where their friendship blooms.
 
Years later, Vix is working in New York City, and Caitlin is getting married on Martha’s Vineyard. Although their friendship has faded, Caitlin begs Vix to come to be her maid of honor.

Vix agrees to go because she wants to better understand what happened during their last Summer.

Summer Sisters is one of those Martha’s Vineyard books I didn’t want to end. It’s a coming-of-age story I hope to read again soon.


The Vineyard Remains by Addison McKnight

Best for fans of soap operas

My Review: ★★★☆☆

The Vineyard Remains is one of the most dramatic books I have ever read! It revolves primarily around a longtime love triangle and baby drama among two cousins, Angela and Kiki, and the same man.

But, believe me when I say that’s only the beginning! This tale contains more trauma than I ever thought could exist on one island, including abuse, death, murder, cancer, genetics, “mommy issues,” and so much more.

It’s still a beach read, but it’s best for those who don’t think they will feel triggered by this content and can view it more like a soap opera. In that case, it reads more indulgent and propulsive.

And, yes, it’s also littered with island references!


A Vineyard Summer by Jean Stone

Best for fans of mysteries

My Review: ★★★☆☆

A Vineyard Summer is the second in a Martha’s Vineyard book series. It’s about a local writer, Annie, and 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.

Pro Tip: Jean Stone has many more great novels set on Martha’s Vineyard. I simply chose to highlight one one here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Elin Hilderbrand book takes place on Martha’s Vineyard?

Many of Nantucket author Elin Hilderbrand’s books take place partially on Martha’s Vineyard. The Identicals, in which one identical twin at the heart of the novel lives on Martha’s Vineyard, offers the most content there.

What new books are set on Martha’s Vineyard?

The Vineyard Remains by Addison McKnight is a new 2024 book set on Martha’s Vineyard.

What romance books are set on Martha’s Vineyard?

A few good romance books set on Martha’s Vineyard are Counting Chickens by T. Elizabeth Bell, Goats in the Time of Love by T. Elizabeth Bell, and The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther.

Conclusion

Martha’s Vineyard is a special place that captures the hearts of residents, visitors, and readers. With historic charm and unique New England island culture, this assortment of books set on Martha’s Vineyard allows you to experience the Vineyard through the written word.

If you still can’t decide which book to read next, start with my top pick, Elin Hilderbrand’s Summer of ’69.

RELATED POST

Check out the best bookstores on Martha’s Vineyard next, and share your Vineyard experiences in the comments below.

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9 Comments

  1. I am so honored to see OUR PLACE ON THIS ISLAND on this list with so many fabulous reads. Thank you so much for including!!

  2. Happy to find this list and would suggest the addition of Linda Cargillo’s the Boat House Cafe (book one), The Uneven Road (book two), and Island Legacy (book three).