Saturday, June 20
Unlike sandcastles, the past doesn’t just wash away – even though we may sometimes wish it did. The books featured in this panel discussion all harken back to summers past, and explore the ways we do or do not change with the seasons.
We all know the famous song – “Summer lovin’ had me a blast, summer lovin’ happened so fast…” but there’s a reason that summer relationships don’t always last. The books featured in this panel discussion explore romance, renewals, and starting over – which isn’t always a day at the beach.
In the sea of life, the people you have in the boat with you really matter. The books featured in this panel discussion explore the complex and complicated bonds of family, friendship, and community; and the histories and secrets that make navigating those relationships anything but smooth sailing.
It’s time to play Beach Reads Bingo! Grab your beach towel, sunglasses and hat, and we’ll supply the bingo card, prizes, and 5 book-club favorite authors. The books featured in this panel discussion are the perfect reads for an afternoon filled with azure skies, ocean-kissed breezes, and soft sand between your toes.
To pre-order the books discussed in this panel event, please go to the Adventures by the Book® Website:
Sunday, May 31
In the early morning of April 19, 1775, a hostile military force composed British light infantry and grenadiers were marching through the Massachusetts countryside towards Concord. A panic set in as the civilian population realized that they would be caught in the middle of combat. The roads became clogged with “women and children weeping” and many residents escaped to woods and fields or to nearby towns to avoid the coming bloodshed. As they did, minute man and militia companies throughout the colony quickly mobilized for war. Throughout the day as American units closed in on the retreating British force, the fighting along the Bay Road was brutal, vicious and often house to house and hand to hand.
Join author and historian Alexander Cain as he shares what really happened on April 19th and who were the men and women that either fought or were caught up in the events of Lexington and Concord.
Presenter: Alexander R. Cain
Historian Bethany Groff Dorau and journalist Jessica Pearce Rotondi, both from West Newbury, share the experience of deep engagement with fallen soldiers whose loss haunted and fractured families for generations. For Dorau, author of A Newburyport Marine, a chance encounter led to the discovery of intimate letters, personal diaries, photographs and military records, held by people across the world who had not forgotten Eben Bradbury, a young Marine killed in the bloody battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. For Rotondi, author of What We Inherit: A Secret War and a Family’s Search for Answers, boxes of letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings discovered after her mother’s death led her deep into the mystery surrounding the death of her uncle Jack during the CIA-led “Secret War” in Laos in 1972. Join these two for a lively chat about memory, mystery, and how these deaths changed everything for those left behind.
“The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. In her emotionally charged, brilliantly realized novel, A STAR FOR MRS. BLAKE, April Smith breathes life into a unique moment in American history, imagining the experience of five women from diverse backgrounds who have each lost a son to war. In this talk, author and TV Writer/Producer April Smith will share the inspiration, backround and writing process that produced this best-selling and beloved novel. “A Star for Mrs. Blake is a beautifully written and meticulously researched. April Smith’s poignant and tender story of five courageous World War I Gold Star mothers’ amazing journey across the sea is one you will never forget.” —Fannie Flagg
Presenter: April Smith
From 1942 to 1944, the U.S. Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) flew 77 types of military planes over 60 million miles, setting out on every kind of mission except for combat. Author Katherine Sharp Landdeck spent more than 20 years researching this elite group of more than 1,000 flyers for The Women With Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II. An associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University, home of the WASP archives, Landdeck will be in conversation with Newburyport historian Ghlee Woodworth (Newburyport Clipper Heritage Trail, Volume I).
Sunday, May 3
The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln
Hanged for her role in the murder of President Abraham Lincoln, Mary Surratt gained fame as the first woman ever executed by the federal government. But was she merely a Southern sympathizer, a protective mother, or was she a loathsome co-conspirator? Did she deserve to hang? In her book, The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln, historian Kate Clifford Larson tells the intricate story of the Lincoln assassination conspiracy through the eyes of its only female participant, offering a deeper understanding of Surratt as both a woman and a frequently overlooked person of historical significance. Director Robert Redford turned Surratt’s story into the feature film The Conspirator, which suggested that the flawed process surrounding Surratt’s conviction tainted the result and, ultimately, obscured the truth of what actually happened. Larson argues that Mary Surratt was rightfully convicted of the crime for her willing participation in the most shocking murder in U.S. History.
Presenter: Kate Clifford Larson
Richard E. Welch III, a retired Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court and former federal prosecutor, is the author of the recent novel What Carries Us: A Novel in the Form of a Memoir. The author uses his own experiences as a springboard to create an entirely fictional memoir. The novel follows a male character who, after various twists and turns, follows a crooked path of being a fly- fishing guide, an Assistant United States Attorney and, eventually, a judge, while searching for love, finding it, and raising a family. Welch has published various short stories, one of which was included in the fly-fishing anthology The Water Holds No Scars. In addition to his other pursuits, Welch is an adjunct professor of law and has written a pile of law review articles and professional publications. This is his first novel. Although only a portion of the novel is based along the Merrimack River, the author has a long connection with Newburyport. He lives at Curzon’s Mill where his grandfather, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist John P. Marquand, wrote his first novel.
Presenter: Richard E. Welch
Ghlee E. Woodworth’s latest self-published local history book is entitled Newburyport Clipper Heritage Trail, Volume I based on her award winning Trail website: www.clipperheritagetrail.com. Ghlee was honored with a Merit Award from the American Association of State and Local History. Newburyport, the port of destination for over 300 years. From its earliest settlement in the late 1600s along the banks of the Merrimack River to the 1960s, when advocates rallied to preserve its history in response to the threat of urban renewal, the Newburyport Clipper Heritage Trail will transport you to the sites of shipbuilders and shoe makers, coal and comb factories, architects and artists, meetinghouses and museums. Untold local stories of a future U.S. President and industrial movements, innovations and inventions, the maritime trade, and more await your discovery.
Presenter: Ghlee E. Woodworth
Author-journalist Dyke Hendrickson will discuss his new book, New England Coast Guard Stories: Remarkable Mariners (The History Press, 2020). Hendrickson is the Outreach Historian for the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, MA. He traveled from northern Maine to southern Connecticut to profile some of the most dedicated women and men of the Coast Guard. His presentation will include 30 exciting color slides, including images of the service’s most harrowing rescue operation in recent times. He is a resident of Newburyport, and notes that this community is the birthplace of the Coast Guard (1790).
Presenter: Dyke Hendrickson
“Immigration in the Visual Art of Nicario Jimenez Quispe” features more than 50 full color images of the artist’s work, contained within six short chapters that explore Mr. Jimenez’s journey from rural Peru to the United States and his artistic journey as a retablo artist. The book is authored by three historians, Carol Damian, Michael J. LaRosa and Steve Stein. The retablo is a decorative box that contains figures to tell a story and recently, Mr. Jimenez has been creating work that explores, criticizes and historicizes immigration from Latin America to the USA. His first immigration work, “Border Crossing,” was created 30 years ago, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM. Mr. Jimenez will talk with the authors about his migratory and artistic journey, and images from the book will be featured in this presentation.
March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women is a book of essays celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alcott’s classic novel of girlhood and growing up. Kate Bolick contributed her own essay about her lifelong personal engagement with Alcott’s novel. With her unique style and thoughtful humor, Kate Bolick, author of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, finds parallels in oldest sister Meg’s brush with glamour at the Moffats’ ball and her own complicated relationship with clothes. Join Kate in an entertaining discussion about Little Women – what it has meant to her and why it still matters.
Presenter: Kate Bolick
George Whitefield (1714–1770) was the first modern international celebrity known on both sides of the pond. His seven voyages to America made him a household name. Yet today he is forgotten by most people. Whitefield was known in his own time for his passion in cultivating friendships, including his thirty–year relationship with the people of Newburyport, establishing educational institutions for children and youth adults, such as Princeton and Dartmouth, philanthropy in providing for those in need, and mesmerizing sermons that motivated people to travel great distances to hear him. Through stories and letters of Whitefield, author and professor Tom Schwanda will illustrate the contributions and faults of this inspiring transatlantic leader and introduce his forthcoming book George Whitefield: Awakening to the New Life.
Presenter: Tom Schwanda
Still Here is the first full telling of Elaine Stritch’s life. Alexandra Jacobs tracks one of Broadway’s great personalities from her upbringing in Detroit during the Great Depression to her fateful move to New York City, where she studied alongside Marlon Brando, Bea Arthur, and Harry Belafonte. We accompany Elaine through her jagged rise to fame, to Hollywood and London, and across her later years, when she enjoyed a stunning renaissance, punctuated by a turn on the popular television show 30 Rock. Author Kate Bolick talks to Alexandra Jacobs about Stritch and the process of creating this portrait of a powerful, vulnerable, honest, and humorous figure who continues to reverberate in the public consciousness.
Two best-selling historical fiction authors talk about researching other pandemics in history for their novels. C.C. Humphreys has written a mystery (“Plague”) that takes place during the Great Plague of London in 1665 during the reign of Charles II. Hear how he had to change his book because of new research on the old song:
Ring-a-ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
Anne Easter Smith is more in tune with medieval times and had one of her characters die of bubonic plague (or The Black Death) and another of the lesser known Sweating Sickness that was first seen in England in 1485 right before her “This Son of York” protagonist Richard III fought and died at the Battle of Bosworth. Both will talk about the superstitions of the period that may or may not have helped with its spread and treatment, and will read a passage from their books. Not for the faint of heart! Fear, false information, quarantine and isolation are nothing new.
Nina Sankovitch will talk about her new book, American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution. In the book, Sankovitch follows the intertwined lives of John Hancock, John Adams, Josiah Quincy Junior, Abigail Smith Adams, and Dorothy Quincy Hancock, all of whom spent their childhoods in Braintree, Massachusetts. How it that such prominent leaders of the American revolution all came from a tiny village? The answer is fascinating, complex, inspiring, and largely unexplored — but now American Rebels tells this forgotten history of the American Revolution.
Presenter: Nina Sankovitch
Saturday, April 25, 2020
From the award-winning author of Together Tea comes a powerful love story set against the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran. Roya, a dreamy and idealistic teenager, finds a literary oasis in the stationery shop where she meets Bahman, whose burning passion for justice and love of poetry mirror her own. But on the eve of their marriage, violence suddenly erupts, and in the chaos, Bahman never shows. More than sixty years later, a quirk of fate leads Roya back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century.
Presenter: Marjan Kamali
Called “the book we’ve all been waiting for,” by Amy Schumer and a “stirring, fiery debut” by Publishers Weekly, this novel tells the story of Sister Evelyn, a gruff 69-year-old nun who is investigated by the Vatican for breaking church doctrine at her Brooklyn women’s shelter. Evelyn will do anything to protect the residents under her care: confront a gang member, challenge her own beliefs, and even face a bishop with whom she shares a dark history. This story is based on the real Apostolic Visitation conducted in 2010.
Presenter: Alena Dillon
Like so many American factory towns, Lewiston, Maine, thrived until its mill jobs disappeared and the young began leaving. But then the story unexpectedly veered: over the course of fifteen years, the city became home to thousands of African immigrants and, along the way, turned into one of the most Muslim towns in the US. Now about 6,000 of Lewiston’s 36,000 inhabitants are refugees and asylum seekers, many of them Somali. Cynthia Anderson tells the story of this fractious yet resilient city near where she grew up, offering the unfolding drama of a community’s reinvention–and humanizing some of the defining political issues in America today.
Presenter: Cynthia Anderson
From the age of 2 1/2, Jacob, born Em, adamantly told his family he was a boy. While his mother Mimi struggled to understand and come to terms with the fact that her child may be transgender, she experienced a sense of déjà vu—the journey to uncover the source of her child’s inner turmoil unearthed ghosts from Mimi’s past and her own struggle to live an authentic life outside of her Orthodox Jewish upbringing. Dual narratives of faith and motherhood weave together to form a heartfelt portrait of an unforgettable family. Come hear this compelling story of a mother, her child, and their life changing journey together.
Presenter: Mimi Lemay
To celebrate the publication of Jessica Pearce Rotondi’s debut, What We Inherit: A Secret War And A Family’s Search For Answers, Rotondi and author Kate Bolick will explore how where we come from influences who we become and what “home” means after loss. What We Inherit begins in the wake of Rotondi’s mother’s death, when she uncovers boxes of letters and declassified CIA reports that bring to light a family ghost: her Uncle Jack, who disappeared during the CIA-led “Secret War” in Laos in 1972. Rotondi follows her family’s letters across Southeast Asia, recreating the trip her grandfather took in search of his son. As she nears the last known place Jack was seen alive, she grows closer to understanding the mystery that has haunted her family for generations—and the impact of a shadow war that left Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world.
In the fall of 1959, Harvard recruited an unprecedented eighteen “Negro” boys as an early form of affirmative action. Four years later they would graduate as African Americans. Some fifty years later, one of these Harvard grads, Kent Garrett, would begin to reconnect with his classmates and explore their vastly different backgrounds, lives and what their time at Harvard meant. Kent Garrett and his partner and co-author Jeanne Ellsworth will talk about the project of finding the men and writing the book.
On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me. Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms. Author Meg Mitchell Moore talks with Adrienne Brodeur about writing one of People Magazine’s 10 Best Books of 2019 – Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me.
Author Nina MacLaughlin gives voice to the figures of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in “Wake, Siren.” The myths of characters like Medusa, Scylla, Daphne and Arachne are retold from their own perspective, adding a feminine twist to the classic tales. In this session, MacLaughlin will talk about her writing process, plus her appreciation for Ovid and why it’s important to revisit stories we’ve always known. She will be in conversation with New York-based writer Leslie Hendrickson.
Elephant Speak chronicles 30 years in the life of Roger Henneous as he discovers the joys and dangers involved in caring for what was the largest herd of breeding elephants in North America. Belle and her famous son Packy transformed Portland, Oregon into the “City of Elephants,” but it was Roger’s willingness to learn from the elephants and provide them with the best care possible that earned him their trust and love. Roger’s story celebrates the extraordinary bond that exists between humans and elephants, and examines what we owe them in order to assure their continued survival.
Presenter: Melissa Crandall
For author Sandell Morse what started out as a research project became an unexpected rediscovery of identity and faith. In this haunting memoir, she uncovers long silenced stories of bravery and resistance among the civilians of a small town in France during WWII, and in turn finds deeper meaning and understanding of her own Jewish heritage. In a narrative that unfolds and overlaps both past and present, the author in turn discovers truths about her own life and Jewish history, denied her in childhood, and that she now more fully comprehends in light of the brave and selfless actions of those who chose to fight against bigotry, oppression, and genocide.
Presenter: Sandell Morse
Humans are a storytelling species, and from ancient epics to family lore, from the Aeneid to the identity of Satashi Nakamoto, we have always defined and passed on our values in the form of stories. But storytelling itself is a technological practice. When the technologies for storytelling change, the kind of stories that can be told also change. How will the emerging narrative technologies of virtual reality, hypersocial media, machine-assisted originality, and fiction indistinguishable from reality change the values that we hold dear?
Presenter: Ken Liu
Join authors Jenna Blum, Crystal King, Ramin Ganeshram, and Louise Miller as they discuss their latest novels where food plays a major role and why readers are hungry for fiction with food.
Join authors Kate McQuade,Tell Me Who We Were, and Peter Orner, Maggie Brown and Others, as they discuss the art of the short story, their own writing processes, and how trauma and/or restlessness may inform their work. We’ll pay homage to both the important work of these two stellar writers but also to the short story itself, revealing its enduring and important place within literature. Finally, we’ll discuss what makes these writers tick and find out just how they get down to writing. For example, Orner remembers his friend and teacher Andre Dubus offering the following excellent writing advice: “You got to walk around with it. Walk around with it. You’ll get it.”
A debut novelist herself, Monica Duncan will put three new authors on the virtual hot seat with questions about their first year as novelists. Join Elizabeth Ames, Melissa Duclos, and Meghan Flaherty in a discussion of the highs, the lows, and the lessons learned from their first publishing experience.
Our mothers are our first homes, and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them. To know what it was like to have one place where we belonged. Where we fit,” Michele Filgate writes in “What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About,” an essay published by Longreads that went viral and led to a critically-acclaimed anthology of the same name. Join Michele, Lynn Steger Strong, and Sari Botton for a discussion that will offer a candid look at our relationships with our mothers. Moderated by Liberty Hardy, Senior Contributing Editor at Book Riot and Book of the Month Club judge.
For the past 17 years, The Literary Review in Scotland has published an article — “Worst Sex Scenes of the Year” — which is both squirm-inducing and the journal’s most popular item. Notice, the literary world holds no least-vivid description contest, no award for most unrealistic dialogue. Writing about sex walks its own unique tightrope: how specific to be about what the characters are doing, whether to use common or latinate or crude words to describe what body part they are doing it with or to, how to avoid being pornographic or cliched. These challenges rise to a new level in the age of #metoo, the powerful movement in sexual truth-telling and accountability that has jailed a movie producer, ousted a U.S. Senator, and revealed the reviled from coast to coast. This panel will investigate how writing sex scenes ought to occur in this new context, and whether it might be done without earning notice in unwanted annual awards.
Three fiction writers will discuss how they use relatives – family or matrimonial – during a panel focused on mystery. Can kin be evil, yet likeable? Can one sibling forgive another of an act as dire as murder? Authors of recently released books who will participate include Edwin Hill, The Missing Ones, Catherine McKenzie, I’ll Never Tell, and Peter Swanson, Eight Perfect Murders. Host is Dyke Hendrickson, author of five books including the mystery, Last Night in Hollywood.