“Just think – we’ll be on the island and we won’t have a worry in the world.” When her parents are forced to cut short the family’s visit to their summer cottage on a Maine island, eleven-year-old Allegra Sloane and her sisters – thirteen-year-old Alice and seven-year-old Edith (aka Minnow) – decide they’d much rather spend a week alone on the island than languish in steamy Boston. So the ever resourceful Allegra concocts a plan for herself and her sisters to surreptitiously remain behind.
At first everything proceeds according to plan; the girls slip away from their parents (and avoid a visit to stuffy Aunt Edna) and the promise of freedom beckons brightly. Unfortunately, their plan has a few holes in it; when the girls return to the cottage they find it emptied of food. Allegra realizes it’s up to her to provide for her impractical sisters. The bookish Alice is more interested in reading Nancy Drew stories and declaiming Shakespeare and Minnow is preoccupied with gluing seashells to every canister in the house.
Forced to fend for themselves, the girls learn to live off the land, gathering berries and chanterelles in the woods and mussels from the shore. Allegra learns perhaps the most important lesson: how stressful parenting can be. But the girls’ adventures in survival are only half the story; for years rumors have suggested that their house contains a hidden treasure and this is enough to send the sisters off on a treasure hunt. The treasure they find is not buried gold but a trove that binds them closer to their family’s history and to New England’s literary heritage.
Anne Lindbergh’s timeless seaside story is suffused with the carefree pleasures of childhood. Full of summer sun and mischief, set in her own summer home of North Haven, it confirms her place among the best storytellers the region has produced.