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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
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?
“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.)
Ready for release, June 12, 2018, wherever books are sold. Be still my heart!
A whimsical, moving novel about a retirement home for literary legends who spar, conjure up new stories, and almost magically change the lives of the people around them.
Alfonse Carducci was a literary giant who lived his life to excess—lovers, alcohol, parties, and literary rivalries. But now he’s come to the Bar Harbor Home for the Elderly to spend the remainder of his days among kindred spirits: the publishing industry’s nearly gone but never forgotten greats. Only now, at the end of his life, does he comprehend the price of appeasing every desire, and the consequences of forsaking love to pursue greatness. For Alfonse has an unshakeable case of writer’s block that distresses him much more than his precarious health.
Set on the water in one of New England’s most beautiful locales, the Bar Harbor Home was established specifically for elderly writers needing a place to live out their golden years—or final days—in understated luxury and surrounded by congenial literary company. A faithful staff of nurses and orderlies surround the writers, and are drawn into their orbit, as they are forced to reckon with their own life stories. Among them are Cecibel Bringer, a young woman who knows first-hand the cost of chasing excess. A terrible accident destroyed her face and her sister in a split-second decision that Cecibel can never forgive, though she has tried to forget. Living quietly as an orderly, refusing to risk again the cost of love, Cecibel never anticipated the impact of meeting her favorite writer, Alfonse Carducci—or the effect he would have on her existence. In Cecibel, Alfonse finds a muse who returns him to the passion he thought he lost. As the words flow from him, weaving a tale taken up by the other residents of the Pen, Cecibel is reawakened to the idea of love and forgiveness.
As the edges between story and reality blur, a world within a world is created. It’s a place where the old are made young, the damaged are made whole, and anything is possible….
It started out as an idea sparked by the movie Quartet. How lovely, thought I, to retire to a place full of industry folk. Great, nearly great, obscure. All birds of a feather. Then came my beautiful monster, Cecibel, who embodied a great deal of my personal life then and now.
When I began writing the novel, it was called Traegar’s Lunatics. The agents at The Knight Agency (and later, my editor) didn’t like the title. It said nothing about the story, and the name was difficult to remember/pronounce, so it became The Pen, and sold as such to William Morrow. But those at William Morrow who heard the title consistently asked, “Oh, is it like Orange is the New Black?” So the title changed again. My editor liked the idea of titling it from a line in the book, and thus it became A Thousand Different Ways.
I loved that title. Though I remained partial to Traegar’s Lunatics, I did see where it wasn’t the right one for the book. A Thousand Different Ways worked on many levels. But the reps didn’t like it. Boo. It said nothing about who’s inside, gave no clue as to what the book is about, and that is as important as the cover where a potential reader is concerned. So we worked.
…and we worked…
…and we worked…
Several weeks of going back and forth–Beloved Agent Janna, Fierce-Lady Rachel (editor), and I–title after title. Nothing worked quite right for marketing. Finally, Rachel said, “Why not just call it The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and their muses)?”
Well, now–that pretty much says it all. I wasn’t sure I liked the title. I didn’t hate it, but love? Hmmm…then again, it does exactly what the reps and marketing want it to do. It’s kind of funny, because it’s verbose. Writers do love their own words. It tells a potential reader exactly what’s inside, in a kitschy, Wes Anderson (my daughter Grace’s assessment) way. It brings to mind titles like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That, in a nutshell, is what we’re going for. A lightness (because the book does open with a marijuana-smoking octogenarian calling her psychiatrist a dick, in a very mercurial way, of course) within a much weightier story (it’s an old folks home where the old writers and industry folk live daily with death, after all.) The more I consider the title, the more I like it. Dare I say, love? Not yet, but I’m getting there.
I did my final read-through while sitting on the beach last week. I got to see what it’s going to look like inside with all the lovely chapter fonts and embellishments. Sigh. I enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve never just read my story. I wrote it. I edited it. I edited it some more. This final pass was as clean a read as ever I read. The only final edits I had were to delete a repeated ‘only’ here, or a ‘still’ there. When you can go over your own book for the gazillionth time and still love every word, it’s an indescribable joy even someone in love with her own words can’t quite express.
My part in the production of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and their muses) is done. I’ve been asked how I feel about a June 2018 release date, considering William Morrow picked up the book early in 2017; my answer is, I like it just fine. The anticipation is luxurious. Like the countdown to Christmas, or my yearly retreat in Virginia Beach. Things are always happening. Sometimes small, sometimes big, but consistent.
Next, the cover. My heart just exploded a little bit.