August 10th Author Literary Luncheon

Held at the Wequassett Resort on the Garden Terrace

Check-in Begins at 11:30 / Luncheon Begins at noon

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Madeleine Blais, Dawn Tripp, and Sally Gunning

To the New Owners: A Martha's Vineyard Memoir by Madeleine Blais

In the 1970s, Madeleine Blais's in-laws purchased a vacation house on Martha's Vineyard for the exorbitant sum of $80,000. A little more than two miles down a poorly marked one-lane dirt road, the house was better termed a shack--it had no electricity or modern plumbing, the roof leaked, and mice had invaded the walls. It was perfect.

Sitting on Tisbury Great Pond--well-stocked with oysters and crab for foraged dinners--the house faced the ocean and the sky, and though it was eventually replaced by a sturdier structure, the ethos remained the same: no heat, no TV, and no telephone. Instead, there were countless hours at the beach, meals cooked and savored with friends, nights talking under the stars, until in 2014, the house was sold.

To the New Owners is Madeleine Blais's charming, evocative memoir of this house, and of the Vineyard itself--from the history of the island and its famous visitors to the ferry, the pie shops, the quirky charms and customs, and the abundant natural beauty. But more than that, this is an elegy for a special place. Many of us have one place that anchors our most powerful memories. For Blais, it was the Vineyard house--a retreat and a dependable pleasure that also measured changes in her family. As children were born and grew up, as loved ones aged and passed away, the house was a constant. And now, the house lives on in the hearts of those who cherished it.

"Blais writes with eye, mind, and heart in equal measure. I laughed aloud, teared up at least once a chapter, and sighed with recognition throughout. Coming to the end was as bittersweet as Labor Day."--George Howe Colt, author of The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

Madeleine Blais, Professor at University of Massachusetts in Amherst , earned a bachelor’s degree at the College of New Rochelle in 1969 and a master’s from the School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1970. She was a reporter for the Boston Globe, the Trenton Times and Tropic Magazine of the Miami Herald from 1979 to 1987. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing while at the Miami Herald. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in the class of 1986. She has written for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Northeast Magazine in the Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, Nieman Reports, Detroit Free Press, Boston Globe and San Jose Mercury News. She is the author of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle (1995), which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in nonfiction and named one of the Top 100 sports books of the 20th Century by ESPN; The Heart Is an Instrument; Portraits in Journalism (1992); and Uphill Walkers: Memoir of a Family (2001), honored with a Massachusetts Book Award. She is a member of the advisory board for Goucher College’s MFA program in creative nonfiction and she serves on the editorial boards of Riverteeth and Doubletake: Points of Entry. 

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp

Georgia O’Keeffe, her love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and her quest to become an independent artist come to life in this sensuous and wonderfully written novel, a dazzling departure into historical fiction by the acclaimed novelist Dawn Tripp.

In 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe is a young, unknown art teacher when she travels to New York to meet Stieglitz, the famed photographer and art dealer, who has discovered O’Keeffe’s work and exhibits it in his gallery. Their connection is instantaneous. O’Keeffe is quickly drawn into Stieglitz’s sophisticated world, becoming his mistress, protégé, and muse, as their attraction deepens into an intense and tempestuous relationship and his photographs of her, both clothed and nude, create a sensation. Yet as her own creative force develops, Georgia begins to push back against what critics and others are saying about her and her art. And soon she must make difficult choices to live a life she believes in.

A breathtaking work of the imagination, Georgia is the story of a passionate young woman, her search for love and artistic freedom, the sacrifices she will face, and the bold vision that will make her a legend. 

 "Georgia O'Keeffe's life became legendary even as she was living it, something she both invited and fought against. This is the fascinating tension at the heart of Dawn Tripp's novel--a book that, like O'Keeffe's paintings, is lush and rigorous, bold and subtle, sensual, cranky, deeply felt, and richly imagined.- --Joan Wickersham, author of The News from Spain

Dawn Tripp's fourth novel Georgia is a national bestseller, described as “magical and provocative” by USA Today. Winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, Tripp is the author of three previous novels: Moon Tide, The Season of Open Water, and Game of Secrets, a Boston Globe bestseller. Her essays have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, The Rumpus, Psychology Today, and NPR. She graduated from Harvard and lives in Massachusetts with her family. 

Monticello:  A Novel of a Daughter and Her Father by Sally Cabot Gunning

From the critically acclaimed author of The Widow's War comes a captivating work of literary historical fiction that explores the tenuous relationship between the brilliant and complex Founding Father Thomas Jefferson and his devoted daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph.

After the early death of her mother, young Martha Jefferson accompanied her father, Thomas Jefferson, on his first diplomatic mission to Paris. Five years later, father and daughter have come home to Monticello, the family's beloved plantation set high in the lush hills of the Virginia countryside.

Though Monticello has suffered from her father's absence, Martha finds it essentially unchanged, even as she has been transformed. The sheltered girl who sailed to Europe is now a handsome seventeen-year-old woman with a battle-scarred heart who sees a world far more complicated than it once seemed.

Blessed with her father's sharp mind and independent spirit, Martha has long abhorred slavery and yearned for its swift end. Yet she now discovers that the home she adores is burdened by growing debt and cannot survive long without the labor of its slaves. Her relationships with those around her are shifting too. As the doting father she has idolized since childhood returns to government, he becomes increasingly distracted by tumultuous fights for power and troubling attachments that pull him further away. And as Martha begins to pay closer attention to Sally Hemings--the beautiful light-skinned slave long acknowledged to be her mother's half-sister--she realizes that the slave's position in the household has subtly changed. Eager for distraction, Martha welcomes the attentions of Thomas Randolph, her exotic distant cousin, but soon Martha uncovers burdens and desires in him that threaten to compromise her own.

As her life becomes constrained by the demands of marriage, motherhood, politics, scandal, and her family's increasing impoverishment, Martha yearns to find her way back to her childhood home, to the gentle beauty and quiet happiness of the world she once knew at the top of her father's "little mountain."

An irresistible blend of emotional drama, historical detail, and vivid atmosphere,  Monticello skillfully brings to life Martha Jefferson Randolph, a strong and compelling woman who influenced, as much as she was influenced by, one of the most intriguing figures in American history.

"Well researched and beautifully written, this captivating novel tells the remarkable story of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter caught up in two families’ secrets. Highly recommended.”
− Paulette Jiles, New York Times bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women

Sally Cabot Gunning, a lifelong resident of New England, has immersed herself in its history from a young age. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Satucket Novels: The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, and writing as Sally Cabot, Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard. Her latest novel, Monticello: A Daughter and Her Father, was released in September 2016 to further acclaim. Gunning lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, with her husband, Tom, where her family history dates back three centuries. Elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and president of The Brewster Historical Society, she has helped to purchase and restore an 18th Century sea captain's home and researches and presents historical tours of her village. She is currently having fun digging out more buried stories in preparation for her next novel.