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Cape Cod

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,348 ratings  ·  115 reviews

"Engrossing...entertaining...the perfect book to take to the beach." - Boston Herald

Two families, both carried by the Mayflower across stormy seas... both destined to generations of proud leadership, shameful intrigue, and passion for the sandy crest of land that became their heritage...
This is the story of the Bigelow and Hilyard clans, from their
Paperback, 713 pages
Published July 1st 1992 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,348 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
For anyone curious to know more about the history of Cape Cod and its towns, I can highly recommend this Michener-like historic novel. A great summer beach read!

It weaves Puritan family history and actual historic events and people to give one a great sense of both time and place through the past three centuries on the Cape.

I plan on keeping this book as a travel reference and to re-read it in the future to bring a deeper understanding of both what is and previously "was", as I further explore a
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Its not often i read a book over and over again. But this one is the exception. have just finished this book for the 6th time since it was published, and yet again, fropm the very first page i am transported smack into the story.
it starts with ann amazing begining that drew me into a time on the Cape a thousand years before the pilgrams into the mind of an great pilot whale and then threw the pilgrams and well lets just say it seamlessly goes from them to the present and back again. maaking one
LK Hunsaker
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Why is William Martin not a bigger name in the book world?

I found Cape Cod at a library sale and picked it up for almost nothing, which turned out to be an even bigger bargain than I expected. This is a "wow" story. Starting with the docking of the Mayflower and running through to the mid Eighties, Cape Cod follows the line of two families already divided by thought and principles as they waited to be able to land and then as they settled to raise generations of new Americans.

The story is told i
Sep 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: hist-fic
The Bigelows and the Hilyards have lived on Cape Cod for going on four centuries, and they began getting on each other's nerves while still on the Mayflower. William Martin, way back in 1992, wrote a saga about these families. Jack Hilyard is a nonconformist trouble maker, and Ezra Bigelow builds his life around what he perceives to be divine providence. Right down to the present day, their descendants have feuded about land, religion, race relations, money, independence, and whatever other issu ...more
Terry Enright
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book many years ago and was recently reminded of it. Those years have worn away many of the details but I do remember one thing. This book was so good, it led me to read others of his and none of them disappointed. While I haven't read all of his books (yet), I can say that those that I have read, Back Bay, Cape Cod, and Harvard Yard have all been thoroughly enjoyable, and I highly recommend them. I must say though, I have to wonder about the support he gets from his publisher as he' ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2016
All about the settling of Cape Cod. The story follows many generations of two families, the Hilyards and the Bigelows, both of whom are Pilgrim descendants. There's a long-standing feud tied all together with a mysterious missing Mayflower document. Fantastic read by a wonderful author. Martin has the ability to combine historical facts with fascinating fiction.
Patricia Saffell
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm rereading prior to a return to the Cape this summer.Also gifted a copy to my daughter for her first visit.If only all history was so enjoyable to learn!
Sue Williams
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After visiting Cape Cod this summer, I was drawn into the story because of its history. I love the way Mr Martin weaves the story back and forth between the past and the present and how the beginning ties up nicely with the ending in reference to pilot whales. Great storytelling. I can’t wait to read more from this author.
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I do love historical fiction and Martin is a very easy writer to read...the way he goes back and forth from the past to the books present. I'm descended from the Mayflower, and I like the fact that there were "Saints and Sinners" on the boat. My Pilgrim died the first winter, but his wife and two daughters came on the next boat. His daughter Mary, married a crusty old Sailor...who puts me in mind of the main character of Cape Cod. I also enjoyed this very much because ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed all of William Martin's books, because there is a well-researched historical component that unfolds in parallel with a related current story. It's like unraveling a mystery along with the characters. And the stories are distinct; he's not just writing the same formula over and over. He's one of the authors that I look for in a bookstore, hoping there is something new on the shelf that I haven't read yet.
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, mainly because it was based in and near Eastham, Mass where I spend my vacations, so it was fun "seeing" all of the places as they may have been when the Pilgrims arrived and settled the area. This is a historical novel and it switched between the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s to present time (at the time the book was written, which was in the 1990s). It was also a mystery within a historical novel, so my two favorite genres.
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Big enough to be Michener...well researcher historical fiction. Interesting plot development where a contemporary story line with roots in the pilgrim days, proceeds as the older story catches up and converges with it. Very effective. It makes a really good beach read, especially with a view of Cape Cod Bay. There can be an an eery sense of place as you read.
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reminiscent of the novels of James A. Michener, in style and scope, William Martin's 'Cape Cod' is an excellent, exciting and entertaining read from start to finish; filled with characters you'd love to meet.

Martin immediately joins my list of all time favorite storytellers. Now I'm anxious to read 'Back Bay' and 'Harvard Yard'.

3rd best-read of 2009
Georgia Hatheway Beckman
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is rare that I will read a book more than once. Cape Cod is one of those books. My husband & I both read it & fell in love with it. We knew it would be a yearly read. I find myself studying the genealogy charts very intently so I will KNOW each of the characters. I do the same with the maps. This is definitely one of those books that makes you feel as if you are in that place. ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very well written with interesting and historically accurate (I'm assuming) characters and activities covering events and stories of the Mayflower occupants and their descendants from 1620 to 1990. Never really gets boring and the constant switchbacks from the early years to the recent past is well done and keeps the interest level going. Highly recommended.
Victoria Poon
Aug 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was engaging and full of an intimate history of Cape Cod for multiple generations. As a new resident on cape cod (a "wash ashore") this gives me insight into the cape codder attitudes as it follows 2 families from the MAyflower to modern times. An interesting thread of passions that span through time.
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it

I liked how it rotated from present to past in each chapter. It was also of an area I'm somewhat familiar with and makes me curious to explore the Cape in a different way.
I read it as an ebook.
Paula J
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a book to be read and reread. Especially while sitting on a Cape Cod beach on a summer's day
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
My copy was so tattered that the cover fell off before I finished - luckily the story is one that will endure a little better than the paperback. I good solid story.
Debbie  Gerber
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought it was an awesome book. Very large but very informative.
Constance DiRusso
This is the third book by w. Martin that I have read and it was t he most interesting. Livivg not too far from the Cape , this book just caught my imagination and it was so easy to picture the Mayflower coming ashore Lloved the modern couple and their problems. I could see them , in my mind , traveling the roads to get to places. Great book.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Geez...he did it again. Another excellent story buried in a long-term history of the area.
Peter de Puy
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a great story! We all know the story about the Mayflower from our childhood history lessons, that the Pilgrims (the God-fearing "saints") made the journey to North America to start life anew. In Cape Cod, Martin brings to light that there were more "seats" (my word) on the Mayflower than there were saints. So, to come up with the required funds to pay for the journey, passage “seats” were sold to others, the non-saints, called the strangers.

Martin pulls no punches in describing the vile and
Joni Graybill
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
"A nation built upon a lie needed its myths to remember its ideals."

Oh my Gawd, it's CAPE COD.

This is a book I almost certainly would have never picked up on my own - it came to me by way of the annual Christmas Book Exchange I do with my friends. My friend who received it first made a big to-do about how it wasn't the kind of book he wanted, but then he read it, said it was actually really good and passed it to me. And now I've read it. And it was really good!

It's one of those fascinating hist
Matt Bryenton
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Cape Cod and all I can say is if they haven’t started calling William the master of historical fiction, they need to start and they could’ve done so 30 years ago when this book 1st came out.
While it’s 717 pages long, I felt like I couldn’t read it fast enough but at the same time, you wanted to read every word slowly & thoughtfully and absorb the gorgeous descriptions of Cape Cod.
Reading about the original families that came on The Mayflower, you’ll see the Hilyards and t
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this novel up in a bookstore by Plymouth, MA which is an area where my family enjoys visiting in the summer. Reminiscent of Ken Follett’s writing, this historical novel takes place from the 1600’s right up into the 1980’s. I really enjoyed following the historical parts of the novel but the current day mystery lost my interest towards the end. It was hard to follow the different characters through the generations so I was glad for the extensive genealogy.
James Oates
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I didn't understand the overall plot, I had a hard time getting into the book. Probably looking for Peter Fallon who was replaced with a similar character. But once I got "going" it became another William Martin book, EXCELLENT in every way. How he interweaves "history" into his stories is just outstanding. The only thing I regret is I'm running out of his books as I only have three left to read.

Read Cape Cod, it;s a winner.
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting premise...a rivalry between two families arriving in America on the Mayflower, painstakingly tracked over 350 years, involving a mysterious ship's log. Well done in some areas, too drawn out and uninteresting in others (particularly the "modern" parts). This book took too long to get into, but had a good surprise ending and was well written. I love multigenerational family sagas, but would give this one a pass.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A sweeping family saga that spans the generations from the Pilgrims arriving via the Mayflower to the early 1990’s. Centers around two families the Hillyards and the Bigelows, their long standing feuds over their love of Cape Cod and the mystery of the Log of the Mayflower. This book was interesting but really dragged in places.
Jacob Y
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
It was a decent book, it seemed to drag along and was not very exciting in most parts. It was interesting reading about The Mayflower and the beginnings of Cape Cod. There were many characters to try and remember, and was quite lengthy.
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William Martin is a New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels. He is best known for his historical fiction, which has chronicled the lives of the great and the anonymous in American history while bringing to life legendary American locations, from Cape Cod to Annapolis. He has also written an award-winning PBS documentary, magazine articles, book reviews, and a cult-classic horror movie, ...more

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