Author E. Lockhart grew up in Cambridge and Seattle and spent summers on Martha’s Vineyard, so she used the destination as the setting for her 2014 psychological thriller and New York Times Best-selling We Were Liars and again in Family of Liars: The Prequel to We Were Liars, which released Tuesday.
The book, about a young girl who suffers from amnesia while spending the summer on her family’s private island near Martha’s Vineyard, won Best Book of the Year time, The Wall Street Journaland The Boston Globe and was a New York Times Best seller in 2014 and again in 2020 after going viral on TikTok.
There are currently 93 million views of #wewereliars on TikTok, with many emotional reactions to the novel’s unexpected ending.
“I was super surprised,” Lockhart said of the many TikTok videos inspired by her book. “I felt like I had won the lottery in a way.”
Both books are set on a fictional private island off the coast of Massachusetts not far from Martha’s Vineyard. The characters often travel to Martha’s Vineyard for trips.
The author, who will be traveling back to the winery this summer and staying at her family’s home in Chilmark, has shared some of her favorite spots on the island, some of which feature in her books.
When Lockhart seeks a beach of breathtaking beauty, she heads to Aquinnah.
“I often go to Aquinnah Beach, which is famous for its cliffs, for a walk on the beach,” she said. “The cliffs are just incredibly beautiful. Well worth the drive and parking fee.”
A National Historic Landmark, the cliffs were recently named the Most Beautiful Scenery in the Northeast by AAA.
Visitors can also see the 1799 Gay Head Light, the oldest lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard.
Known for serving up sweet treats after dark, this popular island shop is known for its donuts — and its lines.
“I keep my kids waiting in line,” said Lockhart, mother of two, with a chuckle. “I just eat them.”
Customers looking for a late-night donut fix will queue at the company’s back door during the store’s famous backdoor hours of 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m
The bakery is open during the summer season during the day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m
Beach Road, between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown
In “Family of Liars,” one of Lockhart’s characters takes a bike ride down the Beach Road, a scenic route that Lockhart admired while spending time in the vineyard.
“You can rent a lot of bikes in Edgartown, and one of them goes for a bike ride down this beautiful street that has water on both sides,” she said. “So it’s a very popular destination for cyclists.”
The six-mile paved trail offers views of Nantucket Sound on one side and Sengekontacket Pond on the other.
Visitors looking for an unpretentious breakfast spot should head to Dock Street Coffee Shop, Lockhart said.
“It’s just eggs and strong coffee and sausage and bacon and you’re sitting at the counter, and it feels like it’s probably been like this since 1952,” she said.
She called the restaurant an “unvarnished, friendly community in the neater town of Edgartown.”
The restaurant is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. all year round
Lockhart has been visiting Edgartown Books since she was a child, so she couldn’t resist sending her characters in her novels to the bookstore.
“It has an upper floor, which makes it a very magical bookstore,” Lockhart said. “I love bookstores with an upper floor because it feels like a secret library.”
And if all that literary discovery makes you hungry, food isn’t far behind.
“There’s a really wonderful restaurant behind it called Behind the Bookstore,” Lockhart said.
The shop is currently open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm and hours are extended during the summer months.
Hungry travelers should shop at the Edgartown Meat & Fish Market, according to Lockhart, who described it as “a beautiful place to go out.”
Shoppers can choose from fresh seafood, meat, ready meals, a bagel bakery, coffee shop and more.
“They have all this pre-marinated meat and nice fish and shish kabobs,” she said. “So you can grill with very little effort and also get all sorts of nice ingredients.”
The store is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m
Lockhart said the island’s colorful gingerbread houses, located at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, a National Historic Landmark, are worth getting out of the car for a closer look.
“The ones you can see from the main streets aren’t nearly as lovely as the ones you can see by actually walking through the Camp Meeting Association,” she said.
The cabins are privately owned, so visitors are asked to stay on the trails. Hiking tours are offered in July and August.
For a nature walk filled with whimsical art, travelers can follow a sculpture trail through the woods at Island Folk Pottery in Chilmark.
The destination is home to artists Heather Goff and Bill O’Callaghan, who created the artistic trail with their own art.
“It’s adorable for adults, but it’s also really great for kids,” Lockhart said.
The hiking trail is open daily from Easter to December from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can also visit a pottery shop.
A small working farm in Chilmark, to which Lockhart returns again and again, has captured the author’s heart.
Lockhart said she adores Native Earth Teaching Farm, where owners Randy and Rebecca give tours, teach classes and host a community garden. Outdoor courses include wool processing, hand spinning, knitting, foraging, and goat training and herding.
“We visit the Native Earth Teaching Farm every summer,” she said.
The farm is open all year round by appointment.
In Menemsha, a small fishing village in the town of Chilmark, Lockhart enjoys the summer sunsets.
The author loves to grab a bite to eat at the Menemsha Galley before heading to the nearby Menemsha Public Beach.
“You have the most wonderful view of the harbor,” said Lockhart. “And it’s a great place to watch the sunset down at Menemsha Beach. The sun just goes straight into the sea there. It’s very magical.”
Menemsha Galley, which opens for the season each spring, serves lobster rolls, burgers, salads, chowder, fish sandwiches and more in a quaint setting. For dessert there is soft ice cream.
In We Were Liars, Lockhart’s characters attend a Farm Institute gala inspired by the Farm Institute in Edgartown, where her child once attended a farm camp and the author witnessed workers preparing for an event. She remembers seeing big tents and people bringing in flowers.
Visitors can stroll through the barn, visit the animals, take cooking classes, participate in hands-on farm programs, and more.
“The Farm Institute is wonderful,” said Lockhart.
It is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer.
Lockhart can be found twice a week throughout the summer at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market, billed as the island’s oldest and largest farmer’s market.
“It’s really incredible and includes all kinds of local farmers,” she said, adding that people will find everything from cheese to baked goods to lavender.
The market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from mid-June to October.
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