Click on this –> link for a FREE sneak peek of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses). Two whole chapters!
And click this–> link for a sample of the audiobook!
So close. June 12!
The title alone draws us in, and the book does not disappoint. And what a deal! Two novels in one, completely different in style and voice.
The outer story is that of patients (or is it inmates?) in a home for retired famous writers beginning in 1999. The inner story, set mostly in 1959, could have only come into being in the presence of a muse. Tensions abound in this inner story, full of passion—licit and illicit—and fears of discovery.
Tension in the foundation story is simpler but several leagues deeper and more complex. Will the principal writer, Alfonse, live long enough to finish the story? Or perhaps it is: Will the story last long enough to extend the life of the writer? The other writers (and readers) unite to try to sustain Alfonse.
A memorable cast of characters inhabits the retirement home. We meet the impressive but perpetually buzzed Olivia along with Switch, who grows lavender and other herbs. Central is Alfonse, close to death, loved and admired by many, lover of many but unable himself to find a true love. Caring for them are the gentle murderer, the drag queen, and Cecibel, who has lost half her face in a devastating accident for which she blames herself.
The clear reality of imminent death is always present but mellowed by love made manifest in imaginative and unexpected ways. Cecibel focuses this as she becomes the muse of a writer she had never dreamed of meeting. The ordinariness of care for the elderly is transformed by the unique life experiences interacting at Bar Harbor. This contrasts sharply against the immediate passions of the second story—a fiction within a fiction.
This is a book to feel as much as to read. I found in it an intense texture of enchantment and reality. Recommended.
~Historical Novel Society
With the release of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) only a month and a few days out, it seems like there’s something new and amazing happening daily. I don’t even put them all here! Honest! But this is one isn’t just me crowing. It’s an opportunity for you to win an ARC!
“DeFino has a unique gift for language that captures the nostalgia and still-sharp wit of her aging artists perfectly. […] the ending of this story packs an emotional punch that proves the success of DeFino’s work overall.” RT Magazine
I got this about a month ago, but it wasn’t set in stone. Now it is, and I’m free to share Bastei Lübbe’s gorgeous cover for The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses.)
Das Lächeln früherer Tage translates to, The Smiles of Former Days. I’m completely in love with this cover. It is so completely different from the William Morrow cover–which I also adore. Whereas the American cover evokes the warm, cozy, magical atmosphere of the retirement home, the German cover picks up the ocean, the seashore, the lighter side of this marvelous old mansion on the Maine coast. Both give off that love of books, words, writing. As far as I’m concerned, both publishers nailed it, in completely disparate ways.
I don’t have a date for this release outside of Fall 2018 or early 2019. The translation takes time, and both my German editor and translator are working very hard to make it fabulous. I have all the faith it will be.
It isn’t every day a writer gets to share space with one of her favorite writers, let alone with one of the biggest books out in years; color me thrilled.
Bookbub says, “If you liked [Fredrik Backman’s] A Man Called Ove, read The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino.”
Well how about that, huh?
The book published (Lyrical Shine/Kensington) in October 2016. I honestly have no idea when this review happened, but I imagine it’s been a while. I’m THRILLED to have a Romantic Times review! So I’m putting it here.
“DeFino brings readers a touching story with memorable characters, Savannah and Adelmo. Adelmo is charismatic, yet genuine, and the romantic connection between him and Savannah feels organic and sweet. The residents of small-town Bitterly make an entertaining backdrop against the love story. Beautiful, heartfelt storytelling expresses a well-developed plot with the perfect blend of tension and emotion.” ~Romantic Times Magazine
I met Diana a dozen years ago, at a week-long science fiction and fantasy writing workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. It was kismet, and love at first sight. She’s been my soul sister ever since. We’ve been through a lot together, heart to heart. One of the top ten favorite days of my life was spent walking Central Park with her on a glorious September day, handing out (begging people to take) flyers for a book fair. She lives in the wilds of Pennsylvania; I live in the wilds of Connecticut. I had an orange Jeep Wrangler; she has a purple one. She is part of my every day, even if we don’t talk or see one another online. She’s just always there, a part of me. That’s what a soul sister is.
We do Virginia Beach together, and Christmas in NYC. But we don’t spend all that much time together, face to face. The day after Christofer died, I was on my way out of the house to take my daughter back to Brooklyn, and Diana walked in the door with a box of donuts, and a box of my favorite chocolates. Three hours in the car, not even knowing if I’d be home. “I just needed to see you.” We didn’t get to spend much time together, but it was–gads–I’m not sure she even knows how much it meant to me. That gesture of love, of sorority, that burst of brilliant light in one of my darkest days not only helped me get through then, it sustains me even now.
There have been a lot of really…insane events over the years. Kismet. A psychic link of some kind. Just KNOWING what the other needed, when. We connect in ways that prickle under the skin and raise the hairs on the back of the neck. It happened again, just a couple days ago.
I’ve been contemplating a tattoo since Chris died. He designed a beautiful tree of life bear paw with my amazing tattooist, and had it tattooed on both biceps. When he died, I wanted to get the same tattoo, but I really didn’t know if I could handle having HIS bear paw. So I waited.
Now, Diana–she has no tattoos, but has wanted one for almost as long as I’ve known her. The right inspiration just hadn’t struck.
Until last Friday.
She texted me: “Figured out my tattoo,” and then sent me the poem, I think we need a password by Daniel Ladinsky. (translated, Hafiz.) In it are the words, love kicks the ass of time and space. She wanted those words, in a heart.
And then, so did I, but not in a heart, underneath Chris’ bear paw. Without coordinating, or even discussing it beyond, “Oh, wow! I want this before we meet in VAB!” we both ended up getting them today. Me this morning. Diana this afternoon.
I didn’t want to steal Diana’s mojo by having the whole text. And, more importantly, the anagram (which also appears in the poem) just seemed more right. A sister tattoo to my soul sister’s tattoo. This woman who was there for me, not just after my son died, but in all the time before. Through the years of his pain and addiction, his anxiety. And I was there for her through…so much. You know what they say about friends made in battle–they’re bound in a different kind of blood.
And here we go again–as I was writing that last line, she texted me, “Now we’re blood sisters!” And that’s what I mean about skin-prickly-hair-raisy. Things like that happen all the time.
Virginia Beach is only 28 days away. We have about ten hours in the car together, just my soul sister and me. DB fries, Diana! Here we come.
“A book is like a woman. She should leave your bed with her hair tangled and her clothes on backwards. A book without creases is a book that has never known passion.”
The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses)
(My daughter Grace’s ARC. I think she liked it.)
It doesn’t happen as often now,
those moments rolling
into tidal waves.
When they do, they hit harder
to my knees
hands clutching at my throat
to keep air in my lungs.
It doesn’t happen as often now
those dreams of visiting
in familiar places.
When they do, I know
just the wishing in my head
free as you are.
It’ll never not happen,
to fit those moments
into memories of who you were
in your best times
even in your worst.
I’ve tried being grateful
for the time I had,
that your pain is done,
about your next adventure.
I try and I try, and sometimes
succeed, and yet,
there are those moments.