Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ann McLaughlin: Leaving Bayberry House

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my friend Ann McLaughlin’s SIXTH novel: Leaving Bayberry House. Ann was in my fabulous writing group, and I had the opportunity to read these chapters in early drafts. It’s a thrill for me to have watched this book unfold in progress, and to witness the work and care Ann took as she shaped, revised, and honed her words into this lovely novel.

Here’s a bit about the book:
Two sisters, Liz and Angie, meet for a week at their deceased parents’ country house in Massachusetts to prepare it for sale. The sisters have different lifestyles and are not close: Liz, the older sister, is a Farsi translator who travels often to the Middle East, while Angie is a potter married to a professor and has two teenage children. They are besieged by memories in the house, where their father, a charismatic Unitarian minister, committed suicide. Angie, who was in the house at the time, has not returned in the twenty-eight years since it happened. She suffered a breakdown and Liz worries that her illness could return. As the week passes, the sisters talk about their shared lives, trying to make sense of their memories.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

“It is the summer of 1973 and the Carlson sisters are finishing breakfast on the front porch. Liz lists the cleaning jobs, the sorting and packing they must do, but Angie is listening to the insects singing in the unmown grass. She glances at the door to the big room and shivers, dreading the memories that could flood out. A distant plane hums, coming in over the sea. Beyond the lawn is the marsh, and beyond it, Plum Island, a dark green streak with the ocean beside it, gleaming in the morning sun. The beach will soon be dotted with vacationers, Angie thinks, who have made the hour’s drive up from Boston to lie in the sand and splash in the cold salt water one last time before the fall.

“Angie stares at the shiny leaves of a bayberry bush, but sees her fifteen-year-old self, strapped to a hospital gurney, rigid with fear as a white-coated doctor fastens electrodes to her head. The police had questioned her first; later the doctors had. No wonder she has not been back here in twenty-eight years. The must sell this place; that’s why she’s come.”

Ann will be reading from and signing Leaving Bayberry House on these dates:

Sunday, May 16
2 pm
The Writer's Center, Bethesda [you’ll find me in the front row!]

Sunday, May 23
1 pm
Politics and Prose Bookstore

Tuesday, June 15
7 pm
American University Library
Reading details here.

And here’s some info about Ann:
Ann McLaughlin grew up in Cambridge., MA and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1952. She received her Ph.D. in Literature and Philosophy from American University in 1978. She has taught for twenty-five years at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, where she is on the board of directors. She has published five novels with John Daniel & Co. Her sixth novel, Leaving Bayberry House, will appear in May, 2010 and the seventh, Summer Trials, in May, 2011. Read more at www.annmclaughlinwriting.com


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.