You’ll be headed to Boothbay Harbor after reading this great book

The Thistle Inn by Hilary Bartlett

You’ll be headed to Boothbay Harbor after reading this great book

Linda and I loved Boothbay Harbor, so I’ve got to thank Hilary Bartlett for writing a wonderful book about Boothbay’s historic Thistle Inn. Published by North Country Press, The Thistle Inn gives us great stories about the history of the inn and its owners and guests.

Hilary is from England, and was in Boothbay Harbor for a short time. But she fell in love with Boothbay Harbor and ended up moving there permanently. She worked for quite a while at Bigelow Labs, but after having children, she changed careers, opening an award-winning arts business out of her home.

For many years, Hilary lived across the road from the Thistle Inn, and spent lots of time at the Inn’s restaurant and bar, which were always jammed with customers, both locals and tourists.

In the book, many of Hilary’s stories about the inn’s owners and guests are very funny. A lot of them feature owner Leonie, who was a real character.

On the back cover of the book is a quote from me, saying “My wife and I wrote weekly travel columns for 7 years, and loved Boothbay Harbor, but I had no idea of the fascinating history of the Thistle Inn until I read the book. And you will love all the interesting stories of the inn’s owners and guests, especially the patrons in the bar.”

Even though I read the book before it was published, in order to write those comments for the cover, I just read it again, thoroughly enjoying it a second time.

There’s a lot to like in Boothbay Harbor, including boat rides to explore islands. Linda and I took a boat ride to the island which was the first island settled in Maine, and enjoyed a hike all around the island.

And we loved and often visited the Botanical Gardens, which are beautiful. If you’ve never been there, go now! And be sure to visit the Gardens during their spectacular Christmas lights.  They’re really amazing.




George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.