NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “Propulsive . . . An absorbing look at small-town Maine and the thwarted dreams of a family trying to transcend it.”—Lee Cole, The New York Times (Editors’ Choice)
“I tore through the saga of the Thatch family in two nights. The Midcoast is a reader’s dream—tense, ominous, and deeply wise.”—David Benioff, co-creator of Game of Thrones
Finalist for the New England Society Book Award • A CrimeReads Best Book of the Year
It’s spring in the tiny town of Damariscotta, a tourist haven on the coast of Maine known for its oysters and antiques. Andrew, a high school English teacher recently returned to the area, has brought his family to Ed and Steph Thatch’s sprawling riverside estate to attend a reception for the Amherst women’s lacrosse team. Back when they were all teenagers, Andrew never could have predicted that Ed, descended from a long line of lobstermen, or Steph, a decent student until she dropped out to start a family, would ever send a daughter to a place like Amherst. But so the tides have turned, and Andrew’s trying hard to admire, more than envy, the view from Ed’s rolling backyard meadow.
As Andrew wanders through the Thatches’ house, he stumbles upon a file he’s not supposed to see: photos of a torched body in a burned-out sedan. And when a line of state police cruisers crashes the Thatches’ reception an hour later, Andrew and his neighbors finally begin to see the truth behind Ed and Steph’s remarkable rise. Soon the newspapers are running headlines about the Thatches, and Andrew’s poring over his memories, trying to piece together the story of a family he thought he knew.
A propulsive drama that cares as deeply about its characters as it does about the crimes they commit, The Midcoast explores the machinations of privilege, the dark recesses of the American dream, and the lies we tell as we try, at all costs, to protect the ones we love.
A man returns to his small Maine hometown and unravels the dark truth behind its wealthiest family in White's alluring debut. As a teenager, Andrew worked summers as a dockhand with lobsterman Ed Thatch while dreaming of escaping for school and a new life. But after settling with his wife and two young children in Boston, Andrew decides to move back, thinking it would be cheaper for the family on his teacher and lacrosse coach's salary. Now, while attending an elaborate reception for the Amherst College lacrosse team at the Thatch home (Ed's daughter is on the team), he can't reconcile the new Ed—the town's wealthy benefactor and owner of several lobster boats—with the humble Ed he knew on the docks. During the party, Andrew finds a folder with photos of a burned-out car and two dead bodies. Stunned, he goes outside, where police cars speed up the driveway. White keeps the nonlinear story on a low boil, gradually hinting at Andrew's motivation for investigating Ed and the details of his findings, which point to a hidden world of larceny and drug trafficking. An intriguing portrait emerges of the Thatches, as Ed's wife wishes he would get out of the criminal enterprise, which Ed built to give Steph "the life she deserves," and their slippery slope ends at a violent conclusion. Readers will be hooked.
A complete family drama
The Midcoast was a completely satisfying read. I couldn’t put it down.
I really thought this would be great. I’m sorry to say I really just did not get the appeal. I found it extremely tedious and with very little plot. I hated the narrator’s constant boring storyline and I felt like it took way too long for anything to happen. It’s definitely one of those books where the author takes more time describing scenery than fleshing out a plot. I found some of the later chapters interesting, but I felt like as soon as it was getting good, we switched viewpoints again. I also did not like the ending. Overall a disappointment for me.
Glad I purchased following NYT review.
Compelling. I was most impressed by how the author seamlessly transported us into the minds of several different characters. White is a talent to watch.