Book Review: Shucked

Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm
by Erin Byers Murray
(St. Martin’s Press, 368 pp., $24.99, October 2011)

Boston-based journalist Erin Byers Murray quit her full-time job as a lifestyle reporter to go work on an oyster farm. Shucked is both a personal memoir of the physical, emotional, and mental challenges she faced to succeed at her new job, and a look at the day-to-day, year-round operations of Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Ma.

It’s a spirited tale and an easy read, with vignettes about her relationship with her husband and stories of the people she worked with and encountered—coworkers, chefs, TV personalities, and other oyster farmers among them. She also delves into the cycle of the oyster, as well as the complicated and grueling work of oyster farming. While Murray, the one-time editor of Boston’s lifestyle site, writes more in the style of Glamour than The New Yorker, Shucked is an appealing and informative story of how oysters are brought from sea to table, and how one woman found herself intricately involved in that operation.

—Katherine Silkaitis