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]

The Teacher is Talking: Summer Literacy Fun

By Leslie Lindsay

It may be summer but your kiddos still need to stretch their brains.  Here’s a fun way to keep the words a coming!375cc-summer-reading-draft-031609

  • Visit your library and stuff a basket full of books.  Try some new genres!  My 8 year old daughter was found browsing in the juvenile history section. Her favorite selections–Ancient Egypt, and the history of the Titantic. 
  • Start a journal.  Pick one up at your favorite discount store.  Write in it everyday…simple things like what you did and where you went will suffice.  If you (or your child) feels like going deeper, go for it!
  • Make a list of your favorite foods, put them in ABC order.  Maybe it’s a list of all of your favorite summertime foods: corn on the cob, watermelon, pasta salad.  Ask your mom to make some of those favorite dishes as a way to count down the days.
  • Stage a scavenger/nature hunt, create a map, make a list of things to find.  Gather some friends and go!
  • Read a book to your younger siblings or neighborhood friends.  Can you be the teacher? 
  • Look for words in hidden places.  Can you find words within words on street signs, billboards, around town?  What about in the pile of junk mail (ask mom and dad what mail you can sort through, first).
  • Sort through some magazines and catalogs and create a collage.  Make it all the same color, or make theme be that everything starts with the same letter/sound.  Get really challenging and make the same color/same sound. 
  • Read anything today!  An instruction manual, the back of a cereal box, a magazine or newspaper…then write a one paragraph summary of what you read.
  • Grab a friend or a sibling and write summer time words on your driveway or sidewalk.  Or, make a list of all of the things you’d like to do this summer: eat ice cream, catch butterflies, go to the splash pad, play kickball…maybe even dream a little…go to Disney, run on the beach.  The possibilities are endless!
  • Write and then perform a short play.  Adapt this to make it like Reader’s Theatre (read the script/no need to memorize, no props). 
  • Observe the night sky.  We do this on “Firepit Friday.”  Have a bonfire, roast some marshmallows and lean back and look at the sky.  What’d you see?  Can you describe it in using a new array of adjectives? Shimmery?  Sparkly?  Vast?  Bring a dictionary or thesarus with you.

What other ideas do you have?  Share them, share them!! 

Class dismissed…

The Teacher is Talking: Establishing Rules for Summer

By Leslie Lindsay (image source:

We try to be timely and topical here on “The Teacher is Talking,” so with that in mind, I’d like to share with you a little glimpse of our Sunday morning family meeting.  The topic:  summer rules and expectations. 

Kate, my 2nd grader and her little sister, Kelly (kindergarten) affectionately refer to themseleves as “red-year-olds,” are sitting around our round kitchen table grasping at breakfast items, lifing their skinny little bottoms up out of their chairs when my husband and I locked eyes across the table.  “I think it’s time to talk about summer rules and expectations,” he grumbled. 

That got the red-year-olds attention.  They sat down and looked at their daddy, “What do you mean?” 

“He means,” I pause and look to the girls, “That summer is not going to be a free for all.  We’ll have rules, boundaries…but also some fun.” 

The four of us mapped out some summer rules (we’ll call them expectations–it sounds less jail-like that way) and some fun challenges…as well as rewards/fun things to do. 

Here’s our Rule List: 

  • Use the garage door only.  (NO kitchen door, no front door)
  • Shoes have a place–in your bin in the laundry room.
  • Do not feed friends without asking first (their parents as well as yours–think allergies!)
  • Stay in sight of the house at all times.
  • If you go farther from house, ask an adult
  • Use the buddy system
  • You will given a warning before it’s time to come in.  Use that time to clean up and say good-bye to friends
  • You should spend at least 30 minutes a day reading or doing something academic

Fun Activities/Challenges:

  • Get all the way across the monkey bars (that’s for our kindergartner)
  • Read a Junie B. Jones book on own all the way through
  • Participate in an orienteering project created by dad
  • Okay, there’s more…just not remembering everything!

Rewards (girls earn points for completing the above challenges.  Points can be applied to rewards):

  • A trip to the rock climbing place
  • Bounce Town
  • Special 1:1 with a parent
  • Have a friend over
  • Go swimming
  • Slumber party
  • Go to the movies

The girls seem game for something like this.  Whew!  : )  Today, I stocked up on poster board, glitter glue pens, stickers, and markers.  Over the course of the next few evenings we’ll work on our boards and when summer’s out–we’ve got it in the bag!

Remember, keep your discussion about summer activities and expectations open, fun, and then post in a highly visual place (accessible)…because out of sight, out of mind!

Class dismissed! 



In My Brain Today: Hanging with the Hound

By Leslie Lindsay

I really wish I had more to report today.  Blame it on the heat, because my brain is just not funtioning like I think it should.  Not that it’s particularly brillant brain in the first place, but the heat is really dulling it down. 

The dishes are sitting in the sink a little longer than I’d like to admit.  The laundry has gone unfolded as it just sits in a heap inside the dryer.  (I don’t even want to turn the thing on to fluff up the garmets inside…more heat!).  And I really haven’t wanted to cook, either.  In fact, one night this past week I am sad to say, we had cereal for supper–although the kids thought that was great fun.  Today, it’s too hot to even go to the pool.  Instead, we are going to the library to finally sign up for the summer reading program, and then get hair cuts.  Because, who needs long hair when it’s 5 million degrees out?!

(image retrieved from on 7.05.12)Basset Hound  - basset-hounds Icon

All I want to do is read.  And nap.  And sit in a cool office to write.  And look lovingly down at my darling writing companion, Sally Mae who happens to be the best hound in town. 

For more information on the heat, how to protect yourself and stay cool, see these websites: 


In My Brain Today: The Kids Are Wearing Me Out!

By Leslie Lindsay

Today, we have an interview with Summer Sleuth and Worn Out Mom.  Summer Sleuth is on location chatting with Leslie Lindsay, mother of two (ages 5 and 7) in a southwestern ‘burb in the Chicagoland area.

Summer Sleuth:  The kids are home from school this summer.  What have you got planned?

Worn Out Mom:  We have a fun summer planned!  This week, the girls are in horseback riding camp for two hours.  Next week, it’s VBS at the old preschool.  The week after that, they go to Door County with their grandparents.  Later in July, we have Safety Town and art camp, plus some day camps at the YMCA. 

Summer Sleuth:  Sounds like you are really staying busy. 

Worn Out Mom:  Yes, we have to!  Without things to do, the girls go bonkers.  Then I do…which isn’t a pretty thing.

Summer Sleuth:  Tell us about a typical day for you all.

Worn Out Mom:   Well, it all starts with the early morning wake-up call from my oldest daughter (7 years).  She is an early riser. Really early.  It used to be that 7am was a “civilized hour” [for wake-up, established by me].  That is so over.  Now, it’s more like 5:30am.  Of couse, I am not into that.  She gets up and acts like a hooligan.  For example, this morning I was awoken at 6:12am when she told me she couldn’t find her [typically late-sleeping] sister.  She was in her bed all along.  Next, my shower is interrupted–the door was even closed–when my daughter demanded a [bottle of] sparkling tea be opened.  Hummm….let’s think about that…mom is in the shower!  Then, they were outside.  Outside!!  In their pajamas before 8am drawing with sidewalk chalk.  And wouldn’t come in when asked.  Then it was breakfast time…to which the oldest announced she wasn’t eating any because she already downed some Oreos!

Summer Sleuth:  All of that before breakfast?!

Worn Out Mom:  [Exasperated sigh] YES!!

Summer Sleuth:  What do you do? 

Worn Out Mom:  I lock ’em in their rooms and throw away the key…??!  [laughs].  No, seriously.  I take them to horseback riding camp.  Then I get a little breather while I sip coffee at Barnes & Noble. 

Summer Sleuth:  So, how did the morning end?  On a good note, I hope.

Worn Out Mom:  Well, my daughter told me she loved dad more than me.  [shrugs]. 

Summer Sleuth: Yikes.  How did you respond to that? 

Worn Out Mom: I told her the feeling is mutual.  No, not really.  I did the responsible thing and told her that I love her very much but I wasn’t a big fan of her behavior right now. 

Summer Sleuth:  And there you have it, parents who are worn out by summer already.  But to you in the studio…Chipper-Anchor-Woman-who-has-no-kids-and-looks-perfect.   

And that is what is in my brain today, Thursday June 14th 2012. 

[This “interview” for entertainment purposes only.]

In My Brain Today: Getting my Feet Wet…Again.

By Leslie Lindsay

I haven’t quite gotten my summer feet yet.  You see, mentally I am still stuck in March–maybe early April.  Why?!  I am not really sure.  Time has a way of sneaking up on you–damn, that linear time thing!  So, when my darling daughters said good-bye to the school year and hello to summer, I wasn’t quite ready.

My skin is still painfully white, speckled with cellulite and my toenails are definitely in a need of a coat some bright sunny shade.  I have no idea where the pool bag is hiding (well, I do now) and my legs are still a bit, well…amazonian.

Any “good” mom would have been joyfully counting down the days till summer break, scouring the house for all of the essential pool items–perhaps even making a trip to the store  (ahem, Target) for new summer accourements and just waiting, waiting for that last day of school so the kids could go to the pool.

Alas, I didn’t really do anything in preparation of the last day of school.  Save the last wail–mine, not theirs–as the school doors closed for the next 70 or so days.

Today, the chaos met me head-on.  I was tired of seeing things from Easter still littering my backdoor.  I was done with the backpacks full of a year’s worth of school supplies sitting idle in their cubbies in the laundry room.  The Mother’s Day cards still on display, not to mention the preschool graduation cards flocking our mantle…well, they all had to go!  I was ready.  I took charge.  I evaluated.  I tossed.  I saved.  I made notes on the back of cards, projects, stories, photos.  I made a pile of “to be laminated” (yep, that’s me–big nerd that I am!) and I even found the pool bag, complete with too-small cover-ups (theirs this time, not mine…despite the cellulite).

When it was all said and done, I felt better.  I looked back and thought, “Gee, I can breathe a little more.”

It’s not really finished.  I still need to compile things in the first grade journal–loose papers worthy of saving for some rainy day when my daughter asks, “I wonder what I did in 1st grade?”  Alas, I can haul out a tub or a binder and say, “Here!  Look!  It’s all been saved.”  (Well, maybe not all–but you get the idea).

And then we went to the pool.  And just when I think I have it all figured out, I realized I should have brought along some shampoo so I could just wash their hair in the locker room showers, in their swimming suits no less so I won’t have to mess around with it at home.  And then we had a little meltdown because it couldn’t possibly be time to go already.  (When you have two fair-skinned redheads, it’s always time to get out of the sun).

I am still not really sure if I have my summer feet. 

And that is what is in my brain today, Thrusday June 7th 2012.