Dabney Kimball Beech, a lifelong Nantucket resident and skilled match maker, struggles with the return of her high school boyfriend, Clendenin, the first love she never got over. Dabney Kimball Beech has lived on the island of Nantucket for her entire life, aside for a few years as a student at Harvard. She has vowed never to leave the island and refuses to even travel for fun. When her long-time boyfriend and first love, Clendenin, gets a job as a foreign correspondent out of college, she won't travel with him and the pair is forced to break up. Despite the fact that Dabney is pregnant with Clendiein's child, she tells him to leave and never contact her again. He listens.
Flashforward 27 years to present day, Dabney is 49 years old and happily married to Harvard economics professor, Box, and the pair is raising Dabney's 26-year-old daughter Agnes. Dabney works as the Director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce, but is also known as being a match maker for the island's residents. Since she was in high school, Dabney has successful set up 43 couples who are still together to this day. Dabney knows whether a couple is right for each other because she will see pink smoke when they are together. If she sees green smoke, she knows the couple will not last. Dabney's daughter Agnes is engaged to be married to CJ, a man almost 15 years older than Agnes... And Dabney sees green smoke whenever they're together.
While at work one day, Dabney receives an out-of-the-blue email from Clendenin. He's returning to the island and he wants to see her. Though Dabney is happily married to Box, she never got over Clendenin and still thinks about him every day. The first weekend Clendenin is back on Nantucket, Dabney sees him and from that point on, she is hooked on him again. She begins secretly seeing him and though Box is a bit suspicious, he is out of town most days and it's easy for Dabney to go behind her back. Agnes, however, is on the island for the summer and is starting to wonder where her mother is going off to. She and Riley, one of her mother's employees, begin to search around the island when Dabney is missing and eventually stumble upon the house where Clendenin is staying. Agnes meets him and discovers that he is actually her father. The pair also begin to meet secretly and begin to form the father-daughter relationship they never had. Dabney begins to feel ill, but chocks it up to being "love sick" over Clendenin.
However, turmoil begins to rapidly pick up as the novel comes to a close. Agnes discovers CJ's violent streak and breaks up with him (much to Dabney's delight). She realizes that she actually has a crush on Riley, who reciprocates her feelings. Dabney sees pink when the pair is together. Dabney also sees pink when Box is with his co-worker Miranda. She thinks this will be her perfect "out" in the marriage. Her husband will fall for Miranda and she will be free to be with Clendenin. But Box is devoted to Dabney and doesn't let her go so easily, until he discovers her kissing her ex-flame. Around the same time, Dabney finds out she has an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer and is only expected to live for a few more months. She devotes herself to spending time with Clendenin and Agnes before she passes away. She hopes Box will see her and forgive her before she dies and though he is resistant, he finally does. And like Dabney predicted, he ends up falling in love with Miranda.
Sadly, Dabney passes away just months after her diagnosis. Clendenin accepts a journalist position in Singapore, but vows to return to Nantucket every August to spend time with his daughter. Agnes and Riley begin dating, though they are taking things slowly. Residents of the island of Nantucket mourn Dabney, but will always remember her as one of the island's best loved "lifers."
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved this story because the characters were mostly likable and it felt very realistic. The descriptions of Nantucket were true-to-life and almost made me feel like I was on an island vacation.
Best scene in story:
I most enjoyed when Agnes first meets Clendenin and discovers he is her father. This scene had a lot of potential for a negative outcome, but Agnes and Clendenin worked through their shock and were able to work on building a relationship.
Opinion about the main character:
I enjoyed reading about Dabney's match making skills, but thought the idea of her seeing pink for couples meant to be together and green for couples who wouldn't last was a little unrealistic and took away from an otherwise realistic story.