Bittersweet Manor: After a four month estrangement, thirty-two year old Emma Michaels returns to The Harbor View Assisted Living Home to tell her grandmother that she is selling her inheritance: the family property. Gussie, however, intends to move back. On the dock of Poquatuck Village, Connecticut, looking across the harbor to their ancestral home, the two women debate. Their conversation lays the framework for the book, which flows back over the decades to Gussie’s youth and marriage, and the lives of her three children, Auggie, Livy and Alyssa whose hopes and talents are warped by Gussie’s influence and disappointed expectations. Expectations passed down through the generations. Subtle. Unspoken. Implacable.
As Emma and Gussie remember their family’s life choices and dynamic relationships, within the context of the place that kept them together, Emma prepares to do what no one in her family has dared: let go of the past to make room for the future, though doing so will destroy the only thing her grandmother holds dear, and what will be left without the house?
Bittersweet Manor came out on She Writes Press in May of 2014. Ever on the edge of cutting edge, Carl and I took the book on the road. Our goal: not just to sell the book but to raise awareness of the importance of independent bookstores and public transportation. The Cross-country, Whistle Stop Book Tour with Flash Readings was born. Peterborough, New Hampshire to New York City, and then across the country and back again on Amtrak. The flash readings occurred outside of eighteen independent bookstores. I read the first paragraph of each chapter of the book, progressing through the book as we proceeded across the country. Carl videotaped me. We posted the videos on YouTube. My plea: if you liked what you heard, please buy the book at an independent bookstore rather than Amazon. It is small businesses that keep our towns alive. We must support them. The Whistle Stops at various Amtrak stops and bus and subway stops made the same plea. We must support our public transportation or lose it.
Thus we married my politics with my writing.
Bittersweet Manor is available at all the usual outlets books are found—but please order it through your local bookstore. It’s an opportunity to connect.