The HomePort Journals by A.C. Burch
Fleeing New York City and an abusive partner, would-be writer Marc Nugent finds work at HomePort, the Provincetown mansion of Lola Staunton, a fabulously wealthy recluse. Aided by an attractive-but-unattainable artist and an all-too-available cross-dresser, Marc investigates accusations of rape and murder that have estranged Lola from a childhood friend for more than sixty years….
Fleeing New York City and an abusive partner, would-be writer Marc Nugent finds work at HomePort, the Provincetown mansion of Lola Staunton, a fabulously wealthy recluse. Aided by an attractive-but-unattainable artist and an all-too-available cross-dresser, Marc investigates accusations of rape and murder that have estranged Lola from a childhood friend for more than sixty years. Past and present converge when a long-lost journal reveals tales of infidelity, adultery, and passion that mirror the life Marc has recently abandoned. When his ex-lover arrives in search of revenge, Marc must confront his past, his notions of family, and his capacity for love. Evocative, funny and heartfelt, The HomePort Journals will be to Provincetown what Tales of the City is to San Francisco. – William J. Mann Author, The Men from the Boys series. A cockeyed, full-hearted Provincetown fantasia, The Homeport Journals combines history and romance with a dash of wit and a firm belief that in some magical places there is always a second chance- for love and for art. -Heidi Jon Schmidt Author, The House on Oyster Creek
” A very impressive debut!”
Five Star Review on Amazon By Hans Hirsch***I was given an advanced review copy to facilitate this review. The opinions are honest and they are min.***
The debut novel from A. C. Burch, The HomePort Journals, is a novel that eludes me in terms of genre:
There are elements of paranormality, there’s a dash of eroticism, there’s romance, there’s mystery, even a faint hint of thriller, there’s plenty of epic saga, excitement, woven together by exquisite descriptions of locations and characters that literally sprang to life before my inner eye.
I have to apologize if I didn’t know that Provincetown was a real place when I picked up the book, there is a drawn map at the beginning, and I wasn’t sure if it was aimed at making it easier to picture an imaginary place or just serve those among us geographically challenged. Turns out that Provincetown is the equivalent to Europe’s Sitges, a very real place on the Eastern Massachusetts seaboard. Sorry for my ignorance, and thank goodness for Google and maps! The reason why I googled the name of the town was because our main protagonist, Marcus, or Marc as he prefers to go by, drove all night from New York to Provincetown. Why, that you can read for yourself. It made me curious as to where the story plays out. I often do that, do get a better feel for a book.
When you start to read a new story, it usually takes you a while before you’re drawn into it, you need information about the place to get a decent picture. The HomePort Journals is no different, yet as we’re immediately thrown off the deep end and straight into action, with Marc chasing groceries on a rainy main street, the start stretch is shorter than usual. I was hooked, particularly when he returns to his hot chocolate and finds it gone, drunk by the lady he tried to help. It was such an odd thing to do, that I got curious to learn more about her.
I’m not the sort of reviewer who writes a synopsis or a summary. Why not? I want you to read the book! And with The HomePort Journals, I really want you to read the book. The characters, as quirky as they may be, are adorable and easy to fall for, the story is captivating, and it keeps going and going. Yet there are no real down times, which isn’t bad for a novel of almost 100,000 words. You’ll meet the most adorable of “little old ladies”, gender queer Helena Handbasket along with other flesh and bone characters you won’t necessarily find in Suburbia, but who fit Provincetown like a glove.
Were there things I didn’t like? Yes, I think that is something that we’ll all find in almost every book we read. This novel is no different. I’m not Mr. Burch’s editor, but had I been, I probably would’ve suggested that he dump the one sex scene in the book. I’m not a prude, and there is an argument for the scene to be described. However, I found the scene too graphic in contrast with the tone and feel of the rest of the book, which, as romantic as it is (both in a 19th century Emily Brontë sense and in a Valentine’s Day sort of way), doesn’t really need this sort of scene.
What “bothered” me more was the ending. I’m all for a happy ending, but a very close friend of mine, and one of my own editors, once warned me of ending books with a neatly tied bow. I certainly think that the protagonists deserve their happy ending, no doubt about it, and my own writing thrives on them. However, if “above and beyond” has any meaning, Mr. Burch certainly did go above and beyond in making sure to create a fairy tale ending. I would’ve preferred it to be toned down just a notch. It would not have diminished the overall impression of a great novel, quite the contrary.
I found great pleasure in reading “The HomePort Journals”, this family saga, paranormal detective romance novel, which will put the American Sitges, Provincetown, on the gay map for good. Despite my small misgivings, I give it a whooping 4.5 stars, which we all know rounds up to 5! I for one look forward to reading more from Mr. Burch.
If you’d like to see some images from Provincetown, MA, visit the author’s website. I think you should wait until AFTER you read the novel, because reality just never really beats our imagination, and at least my Provincetown is way better than the real deal.