East Greenwich event to host ‘Lost Summers of Newport’ writers

EAST GREENWICH — Conversation flows easily when Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White get together. They confide, empathize and joke with each other like the good friends they are.

Except that these women share something else. Each is a New York Times bestselling author with numerous books written solo — and four they’ve written together.

Their latest collaboration is “The Lost Summers of Newport,” and on August 24, they’ll showcase their book — and their friendship — at a special presentation at Greenwich Odeumsponsored by “The Rhode Show” and Reading with Robin.

The Newport Parameter is sure to intrigue Rhode Islanders, and Robin Kall, who will co-host the event with Ashley Erling, producer of “The Rhode Show” on WPRI-TV, envisions the event as the biggest book club in the world. small state. The authors will talk and answer questions about their unique style of working together.

Good reading, good friends:RI Book Clubs Share Literature, Laughter and Fellowship

Buy local in these 5 major independent bookstores of the RI

What is “The Lost Summers of Newport” about?

Already hailed as “A captivating and lavish tale,” on “Good Morning America,” “The Lost Summers of Newport” explores the lives of three women from different eras: a modern story set in 2019, a mid-century tale from 1958, and a saga from 1899 at the end of the golden age.

Their stories are told in turn. The first chapter is about Andie, a single mother trying to make ends meet as the producer of “Makeover Mansion”, a reality show about restoring once opulent homes, including the fictional Sprague Mansion in Newport. Andie is the character of the 21st century.

The second chapter introduces Ellen, a young woman hired to give voice lessons to a young heiress protege with a newly wealthy half-brother, John Sprague, who hopes she will marry with enough wealth to support his eponymous estate. Ellen is seen as a servant in this Golden Age mansion.

Also inspired by Rhode Island:How a Newport Living Room Inspired Julian Fellowes to Make HBO’s ‘Gilded Age’

‘The Gilded Age’ resumes filming in Newport: Here’s what you need to know

Chapter Three, set in 1958, centers on Lucia, nicknamed Lucky, a wealthy, high-society woman who is unfortunately married to a scion of the Sprague family.

All three have a connection to the Sprague Mansion. All three also have secrets from the past that shape their present. And through the virtuoso plotting of the novel’s three authors, these secrets and connections are revealed as clues in a mystery that ultimately binds the protagonists together.

History has windows into Newport history and women’s history

But this is not purely a mystery. The authors delve into the thoughts, emotions, and challenges of their characters’ women in their respective eras. There is also history in the narration, events like the tiffany ball held in Newport to raise funds for historic preservation and attended by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

“We weave in real history,” Willig said during a recent Zoom interview that included his co-writers and Robin Kall.

So why Newport?

“I was skimming through the news headlines to get my brain working,” said Williams, when she came across a mansion makeover program on British television.

Why Westerly is worth a visit:Excellent seafood, delicious cocktails and waterfront views

Top 15 ice cream parlors in RI: Did your favorite make your list?

“It’s homemade porn, but it’s really family porn, with all the ongoing relationships that would make a great book, with generations of female matriarchs,” she said.

The concept took root in the collective thought of the authors – they frequently refer to their “unibrain” – and the mansions of Newport’s Golden Age gave them their frame.

“The stories these buildings could tell us, the secrets they held,” Willig mused.

How three best-selling authors merged into ‘Team W’

It might seem like writing three separate but intertwined tales would require a flowchart, but the process is “very organic,” White said. “The planning is usually quite consistent and consecutive.”

“It’s all about character,” Willig added. “We eliminate characters, so we know these people and know how they behave.”

So does each author choose to write the story of a single character? They won’t say exactly, though White noted, “The characters choose us.”

“We thought we each had separate voices until an editor sent edits to the wrong authors,” Willig recalls. “We had created a new group voice.”

The new memoir has a scoop:How did RI’s Ann Hood go from flight attendant to bestselling author?

“None of us could imagine writing with anyone else the way we do,” White added, as the others nodded in agreement.

But their magical synergy stems from a mundane event.

“At big book conferences, we sat together. All of our names start with W,” White pointed out. They bonded over cocktails, and now they refer to themselves as Team W.

In “The Lost Summers of Newport,” however, the pandemic separated the writing group, not only from each other, but also from the city and the legendary homes they were writing about. They did virtual tours — they thank the Newport County Preservation Society and its application – until homes reopen for in-person visitation.

“I spoke with longtime Newport folks, sailing and yachting friends, to make sure we had the right yacht club [for characters’ memberships]Willig added.

Acclaimed novelist Don Winslow debuts new trilogy set in his native Rhode Island

The online search yielded additional information, including reports of the real Tiffany Ball and the Tiffany Diamond worn in 1957 for the occasion by Mrs. E. Sheldon Whitehouse. The novel and the acknowledgments at the end of the book are filled with local references that Rhode Islanders will appreciate.

“The Lost Summers of Newport” was released in May, and even though the writers moved on to new projects and family obligations, “We wanted to do a big thing,” Willig said.

“We’re thrilled to be back together,” Williams said.

About the authors and Robin Kall

None of the three authors of “The Lost Summers of Newport” began their writing careers. As Beatriz Williams says, “We buried our writing under respectable careers.”

Beatrice Williams

Williams, a graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia University, worked as a communications and business strategy consultant in New York and London until her interest in history and her Self-proclaimed “obsession” with voice creation and characterization takes over.

A New York Times, USA TODAY and international bestselling author, she was born in Seattle, Washington, and now lives near the Connecticut coast with her husband and four children.

AuthorLauren Willig

Lauren Willig, a Yale University alumnus, has a graduate degree in history from Harvard, a JD from Harvard Law School, and practiced law for a year and a half at a large New York law firm.

However, she had told her freshman teacher that she would become a writer and admitted to her Harvard legal adviser that she had studied Stuart England only so that she could write “perfectly accurate historical fiction”.

She has now written more than 20 books of historical fiction, plus the four with Team W, and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author.

She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

Author Karen White

Karen White completes the triumvirate of New York Times and USA TODAY bestsellers, with 31 books to her credit.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in management from Tulane University, she pursued a career in business. She attributes writing her first book to “a moment of weakness.”

She grew up in London but now lives with her husband near Atlanta, Georgia, and has two grown children, including daughter Megan White – ‘dressed as Meghan Black in the novel’ – who has a degree in historic preservation and who consulted on the novel.

Robin Kall, founder and host of Reading with Robin, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Robin Kall founded Reading with Robin in 2002 as a Saturday morning radio talk show. Marking its 20th anniversary this fall, the Reading with Robin brand has grown to include a podcast, Rhode Island-based event series, and national speaking engagements.

If you are going to …

What: “Newport’s Lost Summers”: Biggest Book Club, Smallest State

When: August 24, 7-9 p.m.

Where: The Greenwich Odeum, 59 Main Street, East Greenwich

Tickets: $25, available through Eventbrite at bit.ly/3OU8u8t. For bulk sales, email [email protected]. The price includes the conference and a donation to the Izzy Foundation, which provides support and services at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, as well as nationwide, to children with cancer and their families. VIP tickets include a pre-show meeting with the authors, privileged seats at the event and a donation to the Izzy Foundation.

Comments are closed.