Wednesdays with Writers: What if your beloved summer home–a century old–was crumbling into the ocean? Michelle Gable explores the homes on Sconset/Nantucket, their storied histories traversing generations, her summer reading list, and so much more in THE BOOK OF SUMMER

By Leslie Lindsay 

In her New York Times bestselling debut, A PARIS APARTMENT, Michelle Gable fictionalized the true story of a French courtesan and the discovery of her sealed-for-seventy-years Parisian apartment, filled to the rafters of stunning pieces of artwork and furniture; a true treasure trove of untold stories.

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And now, she turns her gaze to Nantucket, blending her love for old and new, fact and fiction, and weaving past narratives with present-day stories. It’s the ultimate melding of storytelling.

In THE BOOK OF SUMMER, Gable uses the faded pages of an alligator-skin guest book to transport readers to the late 1930s-1940s when the country was on ‘war watch.’ And then there’s Cliff House, a 99-year old summer home perched on the cliffs of Sconset, Nantucket. Due to erosion, be that familial or geographical, things are eroding.

So pack your bags, toss in your flip-flops and join me on the grand old porch that is Cliff House.

Leslie Lindsay: Michelle, it’s lovely to have you back. I recall the last time we chatted, you mentioned you were working on a new book set in Nantucket. Of course, I was enamored. What drove you to this location?

Michelle Gable:Thank you for having me back on the blog! I’ve always had an obsession with New England, in particular New England beaches, which is kind of strange for a California girl! But I like the history, and the changing seasons, and how a town’s population shifts between the months. The dynamics are entirely different in San Diego.

I wasn’t looking to set a book in Nantucket per se, but I stumbled across this article in Vanity Fair and knew it was the perfect fit! I decided to set the story on Nantucket, featuring a home facing a fate similar to that of Bluff House. It took me a bit to figure out the structure of the novel, and its characters, but I knew immediately it’d feature a guest book and that I’d call it THE BOOK OF SUMMER. I also knew the last line, and that shaped the rest.image (1)

The best part of writing this book was having an excuse to stay on Nantucket in the name of research. Last summer, my family and I rented a house on Baxter Road, where my characters have their home. We stayed on the non-cliff side, of course.

L.L.: And so it’s a real thing, these houses in Sconset crumbling off cliffs. Can you talk about that? What, if anything is being done to save these summer homes?

Michelle Gable: In my novel, the matriarch of the family, Cissy, is desperate to save her home and goes through all manner of time and funds to get her way. She thinks she can use her money and influence to “fight city hall” and force the installation of a number of controversial erosion control measures. The proposed solutions and drawbacks in the novel all mirror what occurred (and continues to occur) in real life. Nantucket did initiate the geotube installation/beach replenishment program a few years ago. Some say it’s prevented further erosion, while others disagree. There’s no obvious or clear-cut answer, that’s for sure, and in a way both sides are right.

L.L.: I love houses. Their stories are often fascinating, the secrets they hold, but also the design and architecture. It seems like they may also be a fascination of yours, too. I’m thinking of THE PARIS APARTMENT, the manse in I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS (which is actually in England). What are some of your favorite houses and their locations? They don’t have to be literary.

Michelle Gable: It’s funny because I never realized this until someone pointed it out at one of my book signings! Yes, homes have featured prominently in all three of my novels. I’ve never really followed astrology, but I am a Cancer, and that sign is known for being a homebody. So maybe there’s something to it! The central character in my fourth book is a displaced person and therefore someone without a home. This was before I realized my apparent fixation on “home as character.” I suppose “lack of home” fits in that bucket too.

In terms of favorite homes, the first one that comes to mind is my parents’, which they’ve lived in for almost forty years. It’s located in Del Mar, California, about Plaza_at_Del_Mar.jpgten minutes from where I live now. I have so many happy memories of their house (and yard) from my childhood, and my daughters’ childhoods too. They’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and even as tweens/teens still love to go see Gam-Gam and Gramps.

Also, I love my own house. We live in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, which is a funky beach town in northern San Diego County. We had the home custom built nearly ten years ago and—couldn’t you guess—it looks like it belongs in New England, not Southern California. I can tell people “I live in that white house with the brick and the picket fence” and they know exactly which house is mine because it’s very East Coast! I love it because we picked every aspect of it and because it’s ours.

And I love the shingled homes on Nantucket, especially the charming, rose-covered Sconset cottages. I took pictures of several of my favorites and put them on my Pinterest page.

L.L.: THE BOOK OF SUMMER alternates between POVs and time periods. How did you decide to structure the story this way? Was there a particular story or timeline that you felt a particular affinity toward?

Michelle Gable: I like to write with alternating POVs and time periods because that’s the format of book I most enjoy reading. Multiple perspectives are fun to play with, to imagine how the same scenario might be viewed differently depending on circumstance.

All three of my books have alternated between the past and the present (or semi-Sconset-Roses-732x328present—I’ll See You in Paris was set in 2001), and in my first two, I’d say I most enjoyed writing the historical storylines. In THE BOOK OF SUMMER, I really can’t decide. I liked the friendships (reluctant and otherwise) in the historical storyline, and the romance in the modern day.

Another commonality in my books is that they were all inspired by a true story. But, unlike the first two, The Book of Summer’s real-life thread is in the modern timeline.

L.L.: I read somewhere that if books were kids and you had to pick your favorite, THE BOOK OF SUMMER would be it. Yet so many authors struggle with their second and third books…perhaps not you? Can you shed some light on this?

Michelle Gable: It’s funny, with my first book, my editorial letter was twelve pages long, for my second it was 2-3 pages, and for THE BOOK OF SUMMER it was a one-sentence email! Book of Summer The

Once I started writing it, the book came easily, and it was pure joy the entire way through. No frustration. No second-guessing. When I was done editing I missed the characters and that’s never happened before! That said, it was harder to begin because I was grappling with too many storylines, which is a common problem of mine! Early on, I sent about forty pages to my agent with a note pleading for “help!” She asked: “whose story is this?” With that simple questions, all of my problems were solved.

Until recently, I never understood why it was so easy after that initial hurdle. But now I think I know! It has the fewest “real” people in it. Though I write fiction, when there are real people and events I try to make the story and their descriptions plausible. With the book I’m writing now, I’ve read over seventy biographies just to get thing right! Bess, Ruby, Hattie, and Cissy from THE BOOK OF SUMMER are all entirely from my imagination.

L.L.: I have to admit, I fell a bit in love with Evan Mayhew. It’s that old love, first love thing…perhaps we all have a sort of soft spot for that person in our lives. Did you have a favorite character?

 Michelle Gable:  I’m so glad that you felt that way about Evan! I did too, as I wrote him. He played a much bigger role than I expected. I’d envisioned the modern day storyline being only about Cissy and Bess, but then he showed up and I realized he needed to stay.

I don’t think I have a favorite character. My first thought was feisty, modern-day Cissy, but then again Bess takes up a huge place in my heart. Ruby is so much fun and I love, love, love Hattie. I want to write an entire book about her, though I don’t currently have plans to do so.

L.L.: In terms of themes, I see Cliff House as a bygone era. But things are shifting. The kids, busy with work and their own families, don’t come home much anymore. Marriages are wobbly. There’s definitely a connection between the delicate ground the house sits on and the family dynamics. Was this intentional on your part, or did it sort of evolve organically?

summerreadingMichelle Gable: That evolved organically as most connections in my books tend to do! I don’t typically set out to create specific metaphors or parallels. But something usually clicks while I’m writing and I think ‘a-ha!’ This is a perfect contrast!

L.L.: What’s on your ‘bucket list’ for summer? Any good reads you can recommend?

Michelle Gable: My “bucket list” would include owning a home on Nantucket, but that’s really more of a pipe dream than something that could actually happen! That said, there are places I’d like to travel this and future summers. High on the list of places I’ve never been but hope to see one day: Spain, Portugal, African safari.

As for books, fabulous recent releases include The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn, All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward (one of my favorite writers!), and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. I loved A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, which is a recent read for me, but wasn’t released recently. I track my favorite reads on Pinterest too.

L.L.: What should I have asked but may have forgotten?

Michelle Gable:  Well, you could ask me what I’m working on now…but I’m not ready to talk about it yet!

L.L.: Michelle, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much for popping over.

 Michelle Gable: Thanks so much for having me!

For more information, to connect with Michelle Gable via social media, or to snag your own copy of THE BOOK OF SUMMER (available May 9 from St. Martin’s Press), please visit:

Michelle 278_credit Joanna DeGeneres.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR: New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and I’ll See You in Paris, Michelle Gable graduated from The College of William & Mary. After a twenty-year career in finance, she now writes full time. Michelle lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these social media hang-outs:


[Author and cover images courtesy of St. Martin’s Press and used with permission. Images of Baxter Road/Nantucket retrieved from linked Vanity Fair article, Rose-covered Sconset home retrieved from , image of Del Mar, CA retrieved from Wikipedia. Books and birds retrieved from, all on 5.3.17]

Write On, Wednesday: New York Times Bestselling Author Michelle Gable talks about decaying English mansions, writing in cars, & how history and relationships drive us

By Leslie Lindsay 

In her New York Times bestselling debut, A PARIS APARTMENT, Michelle Gable fictionalized the true story of a French courtesan and the discovery of her sealed-for-seventy-years Parisian apartment, which was filled to the rafters with stunning pieces of artwork and furniture, sparking wonder in readers across the world.

I'll See You in Paris
Lavender and book

She’s back with I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS, but this time the brunt of the story takes place in a sleepy little English hamlet, a decaying old manse set behind barbed wire, an English pub, and a young women’s quest to find herself and her roots. The lives of three women intersect in this parallel story, dual-narrative, spanning several time periods.

I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS is a magical melding of historical fiction, a dash of mystery, and a contemporary read all rolled into one. 

Today, I am honored to welcome Michelle Gable to the blog couch. I have fresh scones and spot of tea waiting…

Leslie Lindsay: Michelle, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. I’m always so intrigued to find out what was haunting you when you set out to write I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS?

Michelle Gable: Thank you for having me! The first glimpse of I’ll See You in Paris came while researching A Paris Apartment, which features artist Giovanni Boldini as a central character. Back in the Gilded Age, you weren’t anyone unless he painted you and so I studied every person Boldini rendered. When I stumbled upon Gladys Deacon, the Duchess of Marlborough, I decided she had to get top billing in a future novel. She was known as the most beautiful woman of her era—and the most intelligent. And she had a thousand madcap stories. The Dazzling Miss Deacon was too delicious to leave to history!

One of the most riveting aspects to Gladys’s story was that she disappeared from her palace in the 1930s and turned up in a dilapidated, Grey Gardens-style manse in the 1970s. I knew the reader had to meet her in this location.

As with my first book, I wanted to incorporate a modern-day storyline too. The post-9/11 angle struck me as ideal given a large chunk of the tale takes place in the final years of the Vietnam War. The juxtaposition of the two wars (Afghanistan and Vietnam) intrigued me: one very much supported (at least at first) and one vastly out of favor.

L.L.: In many ways, the Duchess was like the old treasure trove one might find in grandmother’s attic. Can you speak to that, please?

Michelle Gable: Yes, Gladys Deacon was a treasure trove, both her home and her personality!170px-Gladys_Deacon

I used many of the Duchess’s expressions, mannerisms, and real-life stories throughout the novel. By age ten, Gladys had lived in four different countries. She was kidnapped at twelve. At sixteen she debuted in London where she met her future husband, who was already married. By twenty-one she was living in Paris, in an apartment she owned alone. She finally married at forty, but with a host of lovers before then. As she once said when the Duke was prattling on about politics: “Shut up! You know nothing about politics. I’ve slept with every prime minister in Europe and most kings. You are not qualified to speak.” Meanwhile, Winston Churchill was at the table.

Gladys had her famous eyes painted on the ceilings at Blenheim Palace, her married home, as well as sphinxes with her likeness installed in the gardens. As I mentioned, she disappeared from this palace in the 1930s and ended up at the Grange, a falling-down estate in Banbury, England. At the Grange, chicken wire surrounded the property, spaniels roamed (and mated) freely, and dead cats were stored in the icebox. Gladys used the stove to heat her toes and kept a gun nearby at all times. She even once sprayed “f*** you” in weed killer on her front lawn. The stories could go on and on! This is why I chose a “biography” to tell much of the Duchess’s tale. I wrote it but the anecdotes are real.

L.L.: The actual writing of I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS was done long-hand between your daughters’ softball games and your day job. That’s pretty ambitious, to say the least! I’m a soccer mom myself and find the quiet solitude of sitting in the car while my youngest practices to be the time I’m often the most productive at writing. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who eeks out a few minutes to write. Do you find writing serves other purposes for you, or is it simply to tell a story?

Michelle Gable: Writing definitely serves other purposes! It’s always been an escape for me. I’ve read that being busy, particularly with another job, is good for an author because the writing feels less like work. This is so true. I’ve finished my third novel and the process is still fun!

L.L.: Here’s my favorite notion in the book: “WHITE COLLAR GIRL NEEDED. Oxforshire, England. Personal assistant req’d for cultured older woman living alone. 400 dollars per month and free board. No exp necessary. Only a love of literature and the English countryside.” I’m already getting my Passport ready! Had you been to England before? How did you do your research?

Michelle Gable: I’ve been to England several times and travel does factor into the research. I was in London and Paris for a couple of weeks while writing I’ll See You in Paris but we didn’t get to Blenheim, unfortunately. But several of my daughters’ observations of Paris made it into the manuscript.

Other than seeing a location in person, I use any drop of information I can find whether it’s via the internet, interviews, out-of-print books, personal collections in libraries, or old magazines. Television also plays a role. Much of I’ll See You in Paris takes place in the 1970s and so I watched every episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Not exactly “real” research but it got me in the mood!

Research is one of the best parts of being a writer. I love hunting for facts and stories and even a sense of atmosphere. Mary_Tyler_Moore_Valerie_Harper_Cloris_Leachman_Last_Mary_Tyler_Moore_show_1977

L.L.: There are many ways a reader could read I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS. What are you hoping they take away?

Michelle Gable: Mostly I want my books to be an escape. So if a reader gets lost in the story, that’s always a positive. I also love to read books that send me googling (and doing more research!) and I hope my novels do the same for others. It’s a great feeling when someone says they spent hours researching something from my books.

L.L.: What are you working on now?

Michelle Gable: My third novel is called Book of Summer and is slated to launch in May 2017. As with my first two, I used multiple time periods, but this one takes place on Nantucket. The story is based on the real-life erosion affecting the island. Central to the novel is Cliff House, a home that’s been in a family for 99 years and that’s now in danger of falling off the bluff. The story follows several generations of people who’ve lived there.

L.L.: What’s obsessing you now and why?

Michelle Gable: Nantucket! Not just because it’s the setting of my next book but because I’m taking my family in July! We’re staying on the very road my characters live on. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I hope they love it as much as I do. I spend way too much time looking at real estate listings in Sconset. A girl can dream!

L.L.: What inspires you?

Michelle Gable: History, especially exploring the lesser-known parts of it. Relationships inspire me too, and love, whether it’s romantic, platonic, and/or familial. No matter the time period, these relationships are what drive us.

L.L.: Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today.

Michelle Gable: Thank you!

Michelle Gable_Lower Res.jpgMichelle Gable is the author of the New York Times bestselling debut A Paris Apartment.he works in finance, writes in fiction, and is also a sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!), Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident, barre class fiend, tennis player, and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation. Authorial aspirations in mind, she attended The College of William & Mary (Tribe Pride!) and majored in…accounting. To learn more, visit Be sure to follow Michelle on:

[Cover and author images courtesy of K. Bassel at St. Martin’s Press. Image of Gladys Deacon as rendered by Giovanni Boldini retrieved from Wikipedia on 3.2.16. Mary Tyler Moore image from Wikipedia on 3.2.16]