To all readers of Widow’s Island (Pamela, are you reading this?) and those who may not yet have read the book, too– This appeared in today’s Providence Journal (July 16, 2015, p. A4). Readers of Widow’s Island may remember the American burying beetle, a central “character” in the book and the catalyst, which brought Ned Fielding and Addie Barlow together? Well, American burying beetle, or nicrophorus americanus, is now Rhode Island’s official “state bug!” Twenty-seven years ago, when I wrote Widow’s Island, the burying beetle was endangered, hence its inclusion in the novel. In those days I was living in Rhode Island and hanging out with super bug woman, entomologist, Carol Entin (thank you Carol, for all you taught my boys and me!), and wanted to bring the plight of this fascinating insect to light. Congratulations to the third graders at St. Michael’s School in Newport for pushing for this recognition for the carrion beetle (yes, it buries, feeds and breeds on dead animals. May sound gross, but it’s actually really earth friendly!) and hooray for Governor Gina Raimondo for signing the bill!
Biologist, Ned Fielding leaves the tattered remains of his marriage behind to spend six months on Winward Island, a property shared by his land conservation group, and the reclusive, Widow Barlow. Dispatched to the island to study a rare species of carrion beetle, Ned finds himself more interested in studying the island’s only other human, the beautiful, Addie Barlow, whose screams wake him in the dead of night.
A hurricane and near drowning throw the island’s two inhabitants together and they begin a smoldering love affair. The locals call the Widow Barlow a witch and enchantress. They claim she murdered her much older husband, the philanthropist, King Barlow, but Ned does not believe the wild tales about the gentle woman he adores. Enchantress, maybe—with an osprey, dolphin and coyote as companions – but murderess? Will Ned’s quest for the truth destroy their love and Addie’s heart?