NANTUCKET is a beautifully photographed, informative book about the houses and gardens of Nantucket, an island situated off the coast of Cape Cod. The volume is loosely divided into geographic sections covering each part of the island, including “In Town,” “To the West,” “To the East,” and “Siasconset.” Each group of pictures is then divided further, with individual titles derived either from the house’s location (such as its address, for example, “44 Orange Street”) or from its historical or descriptive names (respective examples being “The Henry Swift House” and the cottage named “None Too Big”).
The houses and gardens are described in great detail, down to the common and botanical names for the plants (beautiful flowers shown in vibrant color photographs) and period dates, craftsmen, and provenance for antiques, especially furniture. A short history of each house is also given, including the names of the architect and the builder, the types of materials used, and the date built, where known.
Although NANTUCKET is basically a coffee-table book, the captions are well written and well researched, not surprising since Heard is a year-round resident of Nantucket who sits on the board of the Nantucket Historic Association and of the Nantucket Garden Club. In fact, the captions often contain more information than the photographs, which reveals the only disappointing feature of the book: Some of the items mentioned in the explanatory comments appear only on the fringe or in the background of the photographs. The photographs are beautiful, though not spectacular, perhaps because of the limitations of photographing the interiors of often-small houses. One exception is the breathtaking picture of a cranberry bog in the “To the East” chapter--it would be worth having the book for that picture alone. Still, it is a book that can be enjoyed as much for its text as for its photographs.