Once in a Blue Moon

A blue moon is a celestial rarity and occurs when there are two full moons in one calendar month--such as the one today. It refers not to the color of the moon, but to the wonder.  The title of my fifth novel (first published in 1993) is a play on that, and refers to the rare, once-in-a-lifetime love between Sheila and Eddie, the matriarch and patriarch of the Keating family. The title also refers to a long-disappeared section of sailor's bars and nefarious doings in Newport, Rhode Island.  The name "Sheila" was inspired by Sheila Dingley Mularski, one of my favorite little girls, who has grown up to be a Title One reading teacher, working with 10-12 year olds. Her school has a small library, but no librarian, so Sheila started volunteering her lunch hour to help kids check out books. Could we take a moment of appreciation for Sheila as well as your own favorite teachers and librarians, people who encourage and celebrate reading?

I have very happy memories about the publication of Blue Moon...  The Happy Carrot had just opened in Old Lyme, Connecticut.  It was a wonderful independent bookstore owned by Paulette Zander, and this was the first reading she'd hosted.  She decorated the store windows in such a mystical way, full of blue moon-inspired art, and it was the first of many great book events we would have together.

My launch party was held at the Old Lyme Inn--then owned by my dear friend Diana Atwood Johnson, who ran it like an artists' retreat and literary salon (she's an artist herself, I was honored to introduce her at last summer's exhibition of her bird photographs at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.)  For the Blue Moon party she served blue cocktails and seafood delicacies.  In the novel, Shore Dinners were served at the Keating family restaurant, and Diana outdid herself recreating the lobster-and-clam-bakes cooked by the Keatings.  She decorated the inn so beautifully, and we invited old and new friends.  I remember being totally surprised and delighted to look up and see the Reducers, a band I love, walk into this classic New England inn in all their black leather punk glory.

Blue Moon was later made into a CBS Movie-of-the-Week.  It starred Sharon Lawrence, Jeffrey Nordling, Kim Hunter, Richard Kiley, and Hallie Kate Eisenberg, and was filmed in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, one of the most beautiful seaside towns I've ever seen.  My love for Nova Scotia had already begun, but it certainly deepened during my visit to the set.

Happy memories...I am glad for the chance to share them with you.  The sky does inspire me.  I hope you look up tonight and all nights and enjoy what you see...

The old Blue Moon

BLUE MOON is now available as an e-book.  This gives me the chance to remember writing the novel, to be filled with all the emotions of the time.  The words "Blue Moon," as well as referring to the celestial phenomenon of two full moons during the same calendar month, is also the name of the old blood-and-booze soaked honky tonk section of Newport, Rhode Island.  My grandmother first told me about it--she was a "good girl," but as a young woman she and her boyfriend (who became my grandfather) were known to visit the Blue Moon district to meet their friends, cause some mischief, and dance up a storm.

I started writing the novel late one fall, when the weather had turned cold and storms had started down from Labrador, while driving in my car one day, I heard a radio report of a local fishing boat missing.  The Coast Guard search began, continued over Thanksgiving, and was about to be called off when flares were sighted.   Suddenly there was hope...but then the rumors began, that the flares had been set off by other fishing boats, doing anything they could to keep the search going.

That kind of love and loyalty hit me hard.  I decided to write about a family fishing business in Mount Hope (aka Newport) Rhode Island.  The  Keating clan owned a fleet of boats, then sold the catch at Lobsterville, their wharfside restaurant.   There are three generations of Keatings, all with their own loves, hardships, secrets, and joys.    I love that family still, and feel as if they're my own.

I  hope you'll download BLUE MOON and meet the Keatings.  Billy and Cass, married 10 years and with 3 kids, were known as "the batteries" --their attraction to each other  was so strong--and  I think I've gotten more reader mail about a certain scene in Billy's truck in a grocery store parking lot than for many other books combined--but who says married couples can't have fun too?

Sheila, the matriarch, is still in love with her husband, in spite of the fact he's been dead for years now, and she never stops dreaming of another dance at the old Blue Moon with him.

My kind of love.

Secret path

Hidden paths don't reveal themselves often.  They're best when you stumble upon one far from home, away from the familiar.  Taking a walk you might catch sight of of a shadowy opening, calling you to duck through a canopy of interlocked branches, or through an up-island gorse-covered dune Do you accept the invitation, follow the path?  I've done that many times.  They've led to buried treasure.  Not pirate's gold, but beautiful sights I wouldn't otherwise have seen.

On Swan's Island, Maine, through the thickest pine forest, the almost invisible narrow path paved with soft, golden needles, leading to a private crescent beach.

In Normandy, uphill through an apple orchard, to the crest with a view of wildflower fields, once painted by Boudin and Monet, sloping down to the English Channel.  Other byways through gardens, Impressionist landscapes filled with light and flowers.

In Ireland, in Youghal, following a path within sight of the River Blackwater, coming upon a medieval church dating back to St. Declan and the year 450.

Another day in East Cork, the Ballycotton Cliff Walk, a steep climb from the road, leads along the coast, high above the sea, with views of small islands grazed by sheep and goats, sea birds including terns and fulmars riding the air currents, white gannets plunging down into the rough blue sea, and the Old Head of Kinsale shimmering in the distance.  That walk, and a day spent in Kinsale, provided much inspiration for The Silver Boat.

Our own Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, a mystical experience every time I take it, whether on a brilliant September day, or a snowy December dusk, or the hottest August morning.  Cliff Walk has figured in at least three novels of mine (Angels All Over Town, What Matters Most, The Geometry of Sisters) and probably more...  It hugs the coast for ten miles, past mansions of the gilded age on one side, the wild Atlantic on the other, through tunnels, past Marble House's Chinese Tea House.

Perhaps most dear to me, and not at all far from home: the secret path in all my Hubbard's Point novels, leading to a hidden beach where people fall in love and pick beach plums to make tea and jelly and see shooting stars and take midnight swims under the full moon's silver light.

(Painting by Claude Monet, Garden Path at Giverny.)

White sail, blue water

White sails stark against blue sky and sea.   Bluefish are running and spark the surface in feeding frenzy.  The sailboats leave fine white wakes.  They are on their way to Newport, Cuttyhunk, Edgartown, Christmas Cove.  I'm going with them. Photo: Merci (aka La Belle Poule) Maureen, Olivier, and Mia Onorato's new boat, Maureen at the helm.

Geometry of Sisters

Geometry of Sisters is out in paperback, and I'm so happy to revisit the characters Beck, Travis, Pell, and Lucy. They, and this novel where they first began, are very dear to my heart. Two sets of sisters converge at boarding school in Newport, Rhode Island, each lost in her own way. A reader recently wrote me, "I just read Geometry of Sisters and loved it—your descriptions of Beck's relationship with math totally blew me away." I so appreciate that she "got it." Because Beck and Lucy use geometry with such creative, magical logic—to try to regain what they most love.

Pell and Travis have no need of geometric help to find first love, forbidden by the school, but how do you stop a freight train?

Beck and Travis's mother Maura has been long estranged from her sister Katharine. There's almost nothing worse or more unthinkable, and writing their scenes both touched something painful in my heart and made me believe in possibility and goodness.

It's strange, because although I didn't love math in school, I felt something about geometry. The spatial plane, invisible connections. Researching this novel, I rediscovered the poetry and beauty of geometry. Don't think of it as math; think of it as a set of equations leading to love.

If you enjoy the characters in this novel, please read their continuing story in The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners...

The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners

A legendary island steeped in the mystery and wisdom of centuries… A runaway heiress learning to trust life, and love…

A mother and daughter, separated for years, searching for a way to face the future together… Luanne tells a powerful story of love, family, and friendship through the lives of two women who reunite at a place where dreams begin.

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What Matters Most

With every New York Times bestseller, Luanne Rice illuminates yet another of the secret wonders of the heart. Her unforgettable evocations of family, friendship, and loves lost and won in such novels as The Edge of WinterSandcastles, and Summer of Roses give voice to our most powerful emotions. Now she brings back two of her most beloved characters to tell of their journey across the sea to unravel the mysteries of a shared past—and two undying love affairs... Sister Bernadette Ignatius has returned to Ireland in the company of Tom Kelly to search for the past—and the son—they left behind. For it was here that these two long-ago lovers spent a season of magic before Bernadette’s calling led her to a vocation as Mother Superior at Star of the Sea Academy on the sea-tossed Connecticut shore. For Tom, Bernadette’s choice meant giving up his fortune and taking the job as caretaker at Star of the Sea, where he could be close to the woman he could no longer have but whom he never stopped loving. And while one miracle drew them apart, another is about to bring them together again.

For somewhere in Dublin a young man named Seamus Sullivan is also on a search, dreaming of being reunited with his own first love, the only “family” he’s ever known. They’d been inseparable growing up together at St. Augustine’s Children’s Home, until Kathleen Murphy’s parents claimed her and she vanished across the sea to America. Now, in a Newport mansion, that very girl, grown to womanhood, works as a maid and waits with a faith that defies all reason for the miracle that will bring back the only boy she’s ever loved.

That miracle is at hand—but like most miracles, it can come only after the darkest of nights and the deepest of heartbreaks. For life can be as precarious as a walk along a cliff, and its greatest rewards reached only by those who dare to risk everything…for what matters most.

The Geometry of Sisters

New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice explores the complex emotional equations of love and loyalty that hold together three pairs of remarkable sisters, in an unforgettable story of loss, redemption, and forgiveness. The storm off Mackinac Island that engulfed Maura Shaw’s husband and elder daughter, Carrie, also swept away the illusion of her life as the perfect midwestern wife and mother. Now, after years away, Maura has returned to Rhode Island to teach English at the fabled Newport Academy and to seek a new beginning. Newport has never failed to infuse Maura with a sense of mystery and hope, but ever since the accident, her younger daughter, fourteen-year-old Beck, has retreated into the safe, predictable world of mathematics. Without Carrie, Beck has lost half of herself—the half that would have fit into the elite private school she and her brother, Travis, will attend. The half that made things right. Sixteen-year-old Travis is also struggling to adjust—juggling a long-distance first love and an attraction to a girl with a wicked sparkle in her eye. And for Maura, ghosts linger here—an unresolved breach with her own beloved sister and a long-ago secret that may now have the power to set her free. . . .

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