By LeAnn Kunz
Are you ready for a getaway? Ready for an escape? If you’re looking for a way to leave it all behind this summer and still stay safe, there is no better approach than some armchair travel.
I recently read J.F. Riordan’s novel North of the Tension Line and was instantly transported to beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. Our main character, Fiona, has just left behind her stressful life in Chicago as a crime reporter. Looking for a simpler existence she moves to Ephraim, Wisconsin, and makes friends with an artist named Elisabeth, as well as other locals.
Soon she and her friend are enjoying all the things that tourists flock to experience in Door County. Riordan does a fantastic job of filling our senses with all the pleasures of vacation life in the summer. You can see the expanse of Lake Michigan with the sailboats rocking on the glittering surface of the water. You can taste the robust coffee brewed in abundance at Ground Zero Coffee. You can feel the lake breezes in your face and smell the fishy aroma as you ride the ferry up north to Washington Island.
When you settle down on School House Beach, you will feel the smooth rocks embrace you in surprising comfort and hear the waves lapping at the shore. Like Fiona, you soon will become enchanted with Washington Island. Don’t we all imagine “what would it be like to live here?” when we are on vacation in some new place?
Before long Fiona discovers a dilapidated 1890’s house for sale and, on a dare, buys it and makes the move to the Island. In the process she is gifted a cantankerous goat, of all things. Fortunately her new place comes with a barn! Fiona enthusiastically begins to fix up her new home as she adjusts to Island life.
However, with this move comes an extremely unfriendly neighbor, a ghost who haunts the ferry from the mainland to the Island, and ultimately, winter. The reality of her new life smacks her right in the face. Despite the difficulties she encounters that winter, Fiona does find a spiritual renewal living “north of the tension line” that year.
This novel was thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. There is a bit of romance thrown in, a goat and a dog with distinct and entertaining personalities, and always a glass of Scotch at the end of the day to top off the charm off this book. After you’ve finished reading, if you are not ready to leave you can continue with Riordan’s follow-ups, The Audacity of Goats and Robert’s Rules. Here is your free summer getaway, courtesy of your Washington Public Library.