Best Selling Mystery Begins on Issaquah Dock

Floating homes on the cover  |  photo and post by Richard Stim

Currently, the most famous resident of Issaquah Dock is a fictional character named Hannah Hall from the best-selling novel, The Last Thing He Told Me (Julia Roberts is slated to play Hannah in the mini-series, to air on AppleTV).

Despite the book’s houseboat billing—floating homes feature in the cover art, and Sausalito features in the blurb—the novel has little to do with life on the docks. Hannah and Bailey, her stepdaughter, spend most of the novel in Austin, Texas, and the houseboat motif is sprinkled over the novel sparingly. The following are the only significant sightings of Sausalito or houseboat life. Footnotes add additional information:

  • The novel begins on Issaquah (although the name of the dock doesn’t appear until Chapter 7) and Hannah describes houseboat living as, “We live in a floating home on the bay, a houseboat as they are commonly called, except here in Sausalito, where there’s a community of them. Four hundred (fn1) of them. Here they are floating homes—all glass and views. Our sidewalk is a dock, our hallway is a living room.”
  • Hannah finds a U.S. marshal on her porch. The marshal has brought her coffee (from Fred’s) and convinces her to leave the houseboat and go for a walk. Hannah describes the route, “We leave the docks and walk toward the path, heading toward downtown—Waldo Point Harbor peeking out at us in the distance (fn2).”
  • In Austin, where most of the novel takes place, Hannah gets a call from her lawyer/ex-boyfriend, who is trying to find a missing person. He tells her, “And, of course, it was smart of him to purchase a floating home as opposed to a real house. Less of a paper trail. He doesn’t even own the land. It’s more like a rental. Harder to trace (fn3).”
  • In Chapter 18, Hannah reminisces about when the rainstorms caused flooding, forcing Issaquah residents to disembark to San Francisco hotels. “There had been a terrible storm. It was the type of rainstorm that didn’t happen in Sausalito too often and it had forced us to evacuate our home, our floating home, due to flooding risks (fn4). It forced us to take refuge on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge—the hotel filled up with other floating home expats.”

(fn1) There are nearly 500 houseboats in Sausalito (about 400 in our community and others scattered in various marinas). SeeFor Floating-Home Owners, Life Is But a Dream.

(fn2) It’s not clear how Hannah could be leaving Waldo Point Harbor at the same time she sees it in the distance. See “Waldo Point Harbor Topo Map in Marin County CA

(fn3) Floating home ownership is assessed and registered similar to real property. Therefore, the “paper trail” would be the same. See “Floating Homes.”

(fn4) Why did Issaquah houseboat owners abandon ship due to flooding? See 2007 flooding incident: “Heavy rain, high tides flood parts of Waldo, Sausalito.”