Celebrate Shark Week with a virtual trip to the Jersey Shore of yesteryear, and then pack your car and head to Cape Cod with these beach reads.
By Michael Capuzzo
Summertime brings to mind hot, sunny weather and trips to the beach, where thousands of vacationers take their turn jumping into brisk, cooling waters of the ocean. Swimmers who remember seeing the iconic Jaws movie or binge watching Shark Week on Discovery Channel every summer may be a bit hesitant to hit the waves. Shark attacks, although rare, are something we are well aware of, but in 1916 the idea of a shark attacking a human was the sort of thing no one had ever heard of before.
Those brave enough to tackle this book during the summer, when you may be splashing at the shore, will be brought back in time to the turn of the century when affluent Philadelphians and businessmen from New York would load up their families and head to the shores of New Jersey to escape the city. In July of 1916, just as the plush Jersey resorts of Beach Haven and Spring Lake were beginning to thrive with the influx of a new leisure class of Americans, a summer of bliss turned into terror when vacationers experienced the first known shark attacks on humans in U.S. history. During this particular summer of fear, even a bucolic community that rests eleven miles inland became the surprising host to this same fearsome predator!
Capuzzo writes about these series of attacks as if the perpetrator was a lone shark who became disoriented after getting caught up in an unusually large current of warm water that sweeps it to an unknown environment much farther north. Capuzzo imparts with riveting details an understanding of what the beast is sensing, what its predatory techniques would look like and why it travels to the shore towns on the coast giving readers a realistic account of what the life of a great white shark is like. Within this story, he interweaves rich historical details so thoroughly you can tell he did an immense amount of research. History buffs will particularly enjoy this aspect of the book. While I usually steer clear of gore, I found this drama was worth the read—but in all fairness I have to admit that I did read this book in the dead of winter and I was nowhere near a beach with alluring water!
By Heidi Jon Schmidt
Charlotte and Henry are New Yorkers who inherit a house on Cape Cod. Wanting to shake up a stale marriage and give her three-year-old daughter a better environment to grow up in, Charlotte convinces Henry to move there. But in order to pay for the move, they must sell a piece of the Cape Cod property. This causes a great degree of friction within the coastal community and with the oyster farmer that Charlotte befriends. Full of Cape essence and delicious oysters, this is a salty read.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2019 issue