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Posts Tagged ‘nancy thayer’

Reader’s Guide: ISLAND GIRLS by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Thayer_IslandGirls Kick back and relax with a Random House Reader’s Circle classic! Nancy Thayer brings us another entertaining tale from Nantucket. If this is on your summer reading list, then be sure to check out our questions and topics for discussion below! And feel free to connect with Nancy on her Facebook and Twitter.

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

1. Arden, Meg, and Jenny come from what can be called a “blended” family. Do you know any families like this?

2. Do you think the relationship of sisters in a family whose parents never divorce is easer/less complicated/more loving than that of sisters in blended families?

3. The flap copy of Island Girls says: “. . . the push and pull of family altercations make us whole.” Do you agree?

4. Did you identify with any of the three young women? If so, which one? Why?

5. Did you identify with any of the three older women? If so, how?

6. How would you match these qualities to these mothers:
Nora Justine Cyndi
Romantic Martyred Practical

7. Towards the end, the mothers get together at the Nantucket house and end up being friends, or at least friendly. Is this realistic or idealistic?

8. Was Justine justified in exiling the two girls? Was she right to keep the information about Jenny’s natural father from her? Would you have done the same?

9. One of the themes in the book is that of self-esteem. Meg’s lack of self-esteem prevents her from believing Liam could love her. On page 238, Justine’s lack of self-confidence made her want to get Meg and Arden out of her life. Do you think women let the lack of self-esteem influence crucial life choices more than men do?

10. Do you think the women of the Rory Randall fan club made the right decision about helping Marcia? What would you have done?

11. Arden, Meg, and Jenny all have work they love. Which woman do you think is most likely to have children? Which woman is least likely?

12. If you had three months—or even one week—to vacation on Nantucket, away from work, home, and everyday worries, lying on a beach in the sun or walking on the beach looking at the stars, would it change anything in your life?

Author Spotlight: Nancy Thayer on Sisters

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Thayer_IslandGirls Nancy Thayer’s Island Girls comes out in trade paperback this month. The friendships throughout Thayer’s novels are heartwarming and often demonstrate the bonds between friends and sisters. Thayer’s personal experience is no different. Here, Thayer shares her thoughts on sisters and friendships so close you could call them your sister in a Random House Reader’s Circle essay.

Not a bad jumping point for a book club discussion, either! Enjoy!

NANCY THAYER ON SISTERS

In a catalog, I read this message needlepointed on a pillow: “Fate made us sisters, Hearts made us friends.” Such a sweet sentiment, but to my way of thinking not entirely accurate. If I needlepointed a pillow, it would read: “Sisters are created by genetics . . . but also by shared memories, passing years, and forgiven arguments.” Okay, probably too much for a pillow.

My inspiration for Island Girls came from the realization that my nine-years-younger, blue-eyed, blond, spoiled little brat of a sister grew up to be one of my best friends. I was fiercely jealous of her when I was young. But as adults, we grew close, partly by sharing humorous memories about our childhood spats and our clueless too-strict parents.

On page 218 of Island Girls, Jenny thinks, “She had had so little of this fierce thrust and yank of family altercation, the daily squabbling, making up, hugging, laughing, bickering, fussing, stomping, snorting, and simple collapsing side by side on the sofa . . . Now she saw how it made people whole, how life was made of dark and light, yin and yang, quarrels and peace. This was how a person learned to forgive.”

What makes a sister? There are a few women friends whom I consider my sisters, and not just because we’ve shared all-night laughing, sobbing, confessional sessions involving wine and chocolate. Not even because we’ve seen each other through seriously heartbreaking ordeals. Along the way, we’ve also had serious disagreements and snarling arguments—the sort of harrowing tests that make or break a tight connection.

I have a best friend, Jane. In our thirties, Jane and I were hiking in Scotland when we got hopelessly lost. She insisted on reading the map when I knew I could read it the right way. We were hungry, thirsty, cranky, and sure we’d never find our way out. We’d die among the trees, our starved bodies trampled by Highland coos and pecked clean by ravens.

I finally plopped down, exhausted, behind a bush. “Go on,” I told her. “Just go on.” Jane stomped off.

I thought of all the things about her that made me furious— how she’s disorganized, impatient, and bossy. Then, after a time, I admitted to myself that I’m also disorganized, impatient, and bossy. I staggered through the thickets and eventually found the way out, and my friend was waiting there. We looked at each other with dirt on our faces and leaves in our hair and burst out laughing.

But when we travel, she still insists on reading the map. Jeez Louise!

I have a crush on Russell Crowe. Jane calls Russell Crowe “greasy.” What? Greasy? Russell Crowe? She thinks the same of Sandra Bullock, which drives me out of my mind, because I adore Sandra Bullock. She thinks I don’t get off Nantucket enough. I feel she never comes to visit me on the island. (She was here last week.) She loves jazz. I don’t. She wants to change—in her mind, correct—the punctuation in my books. I want my prose and commas just as they are. She hates breakfast and stays up till one in the morning. I love a hearty breakfast and am snug in bed at ten. Oh, yes, and like my birth sister, she’s younger, blue-eyed, and blond. Eye-catcher. Not that I’m jealous.

Jane is brilliant, articulate, and incredibly generous. She’s endlessly kind. Most of all, she’s hysterically funny. My husband always knows when I’m talking on the phone with Jane because I’m shrieking with laughter. Best of all, we share memories of days long ago when we were divorced from our first husbands and were single women with little children in a conservative town. I babysat her daughter the day she got divorced. She traveled with me to Milwaukee where I spoke about my newest book for a library. Later that day, as we crossed the wide street in front of the library, a policeman roared up on his motorcycle and, nearly spitting with fury, arrested us—for jaywalking. She’s the only person with whom I’ve ever been arrested. A definite bonding moment.

She is, as they say, like a sister to me. We share memories, we’ve had disagreements, we’ve laughed till our sides ached. I would do anything for Jane, and I know she would for me—except watch a movie starring Russell Crowe and Sandra Bullock!

But these are minor disagreements. Many women I talk to say that the more profound issues of money, men, and children can be relationship breaking points. If your sister marries a wealthy man who buys a mansion and treats his family to educational cruises to the Galapagos while your own husband has lost his job and your child needs expensive physical therapy, can you still remain true sisters? I asked my daughter, who has only one brother, what makes a sister.

She said, “Tactlessness.” I would like to think she meant honesty, and if so she’s right. You can say to a friend, “That dress makes your butt look big,” but only to a sister can you say, “Um, could I point out . . . the clothes you buy for your daughter accentuate her weight problem.” If we can share the pains and sorrows, if we can fight and then forgive, if we can admit we have differences but promise we’ll still be there holding hands in the hospital room or retirement home, if we can be our truest worst and best selves together, we are sisters.

In my new novel, Nantucket Sisters, I explore these questions of belonging, insulting, arguing, separating, and forgiving. Two young women, one wealthy, one not, meet as children and dis- cover they’re kindred spirits. In Island Girls, three women manage to forgive and overcome and forge a lasting sisterhood. In Nantucket Sisters, that wonderful bond is tested by different stresses— circumstance and class and money and men! That’s taking an age-old conflict to a whole new level. Fasten your seatbelt, sister.

Giveaway Opportunity: A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS by Nancy Thayer

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Thayer_Nantucket Christmas The holidays are right around the corner, so now is the perfect time of year to curl up with a favorite holiday book (or author)! This year, we are excited to read New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer’s A Nantucket Christmas. We have some copies to share, so enter below for your chance to win!

Holidays on this Massachusetts island are nothing short of magical, and the season’s wonderful traditions are much loved by Nicole Somerset, new to Nantucket and recently married to a handsome former attorney. Their home is already full of enticing scents of pine, baking spices, and homemade pie.

But the warm, festive mood is soon tempered by Nicole’s chilly stepdaughter, Kennedy, who arrives without a hint of holiday spirit. Determined to keep her stepmother at arm’s length—or, better yet, out of the picture altogether—Kennedy schemes to sabotage Nicole’s holiday preparations. Nicole, however, is not about to let anyone or anything tarnish her first Christmas with her new husband.

Nancy Thayer’s wonderful tale reminds us that this is the season of miracles. Before the gifts are unwrapped, surprise visitors appear, and holiday joy comes to all, both naughty and nice.

Author Spotlight: Thanksgiving Recipe from Nancy Thayer, author of A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Thayer_Nantucket Christmas No Thanksgiving feast is complete without cranberry sauce! Nancy Thayer, author of the recent holiday favorite A Nantucket Christmas, shares her homemade cranberry sauce recipe. The recipe calls for: bourbon, cinnamon, cranberries, and sugar- all ingredients help you bring this fresh and essential item to your Thanksgiving table.

Nancy & David’s Nantucket Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
1 tsp bourbon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring contents to a boil. Add fresh cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat, add bourbon, and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat, stir in spice and zest, and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until it’s time to eat. Makes approximately 2-1/4 cups.

© jessica hills photography

© jessica hills photography

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe to share? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us on our Facebook page.

Giveaway Opportunity: SUMMER BREEZE by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Thayer_Summer Breeze “Nancy Thayer is the queen of beach books.”—The Star-Ledger

June 21st is the official first day of summer. Why not kick it off with the must have summer read? Nancy Thayer’s SUMMER BREEZE should be in your bag when you pack for your next vacation!

In this captivating novel, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer tells the wonderfully moving story of three women who forge a unique bond one sun-drenched summer on New England’s Dragonfly Lake. Thirty-year-old Morgan O’Keefe put her science career on hold to raise her young son. Though Morgan loves many things about staying home with her child, she feels restless and ready for a change. Struggling artist Natalie Reynolds, fed up with New York City’s hectic pace, moves to the Berkshires for a year to house-sit her aunt’s fabulous home on Dragonfly Lake, where a handsome neighbor becomes her unexpected rescuer. After her mother breaks her leg, Bella Barnaby quits her job in Austin and returns home to help out her large, boisterous family. While an attractive architect has designs on her, Bella harbors long held secret dreams of her own.

Summer on Dragonfly Lake is ripe for romance, temptation, and self-discovery as the paths of these three women unexpectedly intertwine. Summer Breeze illustrates how friends, old and new, can offer comfort, infuriate, or even open one’s eyes to the astonishing possibilities of life.

Connect with Nancy on Facebook and Twitter.

Enter below for your chance to win!

A Reader’s Guide: SUMMER BREEZE by Nancy Thayer

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Nancy Thayer on The Perfect Man

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark,” a flaw is removed from a woman’s face and she dies, because a perfect person can’t live.

But modern-day women still cherish the dream of the perfect man. In some novels, they ride horses, own castles, give diamonds. In real life, we hope they’re employed, have all their teeth, and behave with kindness to dogs, cats, and offspring.

I write about contemporary lives and people like the ones I know, with problems, flaws, hopes and dreams common to us all. I could invent a perfect man—but first, I’d have to figure out what the heck that means.

In Summer Breeze, I had the pleasure of writing about four good men. Even though he is a bad boy, I include Slade in that category. Can I tell you how many of my readers love Slade? My sister called me to protest because Bella chose Aaron when she could have had sexy Slade. But seriously, would you want to marry Slade? Would you really want to get pregnant, blow up like a turnip, give birth and not have sex for a few weeks, all the while worrying that Slade was flirting, or worse, with the delivery room nurse? (Not that I’m picking on nurses for flirting. My sister is a nurse. I worship nurses.)

No, I think we must rule out Slade as a candidate for the perfect man. But wait, maybe not! Maybe the question is: The perfect man for what?

Naturally—and I mean that in a few ways—we want our perfect man to be sexy. We fall in love with men in real life and in fiction because they’ve got serious sensual power that draws us to them. Of course not every woman feels that for every long-lashed man with bedroom eyes, which is, after all, a good thing.

Slade is sexy, but he’s also a player, a charmer, and a bit of a wheeler-dealer. He’s not completely trustworthy. He makes choices we might not approve of. He’s the man our mothers warned us about, which is no doubt part of his appeal.

There’s something inherently delicious, something inherently alive, something basically good in wanting to be bad, just for a moment, a moment out of time. Perhaps there are times when imperfection seems like just what the doctor ordered. We want to leave behind our routine lives with grumpy husbands, unpaid bills, whining children, critical mothers-in-law, dust balls under the sofa. Isn’t that why we read?

But if in real life we want a man for more than a toe-curling fling, we want someone reliable, generous, capable, and well, good. True, we want that zing when we fall in love with a man. Each time we look at him, we want our hormones to light up like fireworks on the Fourth of July. But eventually, we’d really need a man who would lovingly give our kids a bath and put them to bed when we have to work late. And hang up the wet towels. Am I asking too much? Well, a girl can dream . . . or write fiction.

Summer Breeze characters Aaron, Ben, and Josh are sexy, too. They’re also smart, kind, and dependable. But are they perfect?

Josh kept an important secret from his wife, Morgan. He told Natalie the secret—was he a bad husband? Or was Morgan a less than perfect wife?

Ben’s a scientist obsessed with his work, which makes him seem distant and, as he puts it, “mentally underground.” He does his best to express himself with Natalie. But will that be good enough for a long-term relationship like marriage? Will he talk to his children?

In my humble opinion, Aaron is the best of the lot. Not only is he intelligent, handsome, and patient, but he truly wants Bella to find the work that will make her heart sing, and that was the starting point for this book, as it is the foundation of my life. I want the work I love and a good man. I want my women characters to have all that, too.

Perhaps I treasure the work I love and my good man because I once, long ago, knew a Slade and can still pick up a book or pop in a DVD and see a Slade.
My own daughter—my intelligent, feminist daughter, married to a wonderful and handsome man, with three children—surprised me when she told me she would choose Slade over Aaron. Perhaps it had something to do with the passage where Bella and Slade are looking at Mr. Wheeler’s furniture: “Bella wanted to kiss Slade . . . Among all this antique furniture, she felt caught in a dream: She was the maid, he was the master; she was the peasant selling flowers, he was the soldier. He was the pirate. She was his plunder.”

Does this antiquated image thrive in all our feminine dreams?

Let me ask you: if you were Bella, who would you choose: Aaron or Slade? Or how would you describe your perfect man? Email me at nancy@nancythayer.com to let me know, and I’ll post the results on my website.

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Bella is so attached to her home that she considers breaking up with Aaron so she can stay at Dragonfly Lake. Why do you think she feels this way?

2. Do you identify with Bella’s fear of change? Why does she finally decide to move to San Francisco? Would you have made the same decision?

3. While Bella finds comfort and nostalgia in the gargoyle cabinet and family antiques, Morgan feels trapped and isolated by the design of her luxurious new house. How can the appearance of a house affect the mood and family relationships within it? What is the difference between a house and a home, and does it have anything to do with furniture?

4. On the day that Natalie and Ben decide to stop talking about science and art, Natalie comments that their work is “the most interesting part of us, or the defining part of us.” Do you agree? What would you identify as the defining part of yourself: the roles you play, your interests, your personality traits, or something else entirely?

5. Why does Natalie and Ben’s relationship work despite their different interests?

6. Slade, the bad-boy, wheeler-dealer antiques aficionado, tells Bella that he would give up his playboy lifestyle to be with her. Why do you think he makes that declaration? Do you believe him?

7. How does Slade’s decision to bring Dina Hannoush to the dinner party at the end of the summer reflect on his character?

8. Although we often don’t see it, Josh struggles with pursuing his dream, supporting his family, and spending enough time with his wife and son. How well does he manage the balancing act?

9. Is Josh right to conceal his novel from Morgan? How would you have handled the situation?

10. While Natalie’s exterior is that of a sleek and sophisticated New Yorker, she often believes that her thoughts and feelings are those of a child. Does the summer represent a growing-up process for Natalie? How do her attitudes towards Marlene, her mother, reflect her maturity?

11. Which of the characters do you identify the most with? Why?

12. The lakeside community seems like such a wonderful place to live. What is your ideal community?

Jane’s Bookshelf: The Books in My Summer Beach Bag

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

JVMWhat does a publisher at the world’s biggest publishing house read for pleasure? (And how does she find the time?) Jane von Mehren is the Senior Vice President and Publisher of Trade Paperbacks at the Random House Publishing Group. Every now and then, she’ll be featuring her favorite reads in her Reader’s Circle column, Jane’s Bookshelf—books that she thinks you’ll love, whether you read them solo or with your club! And if you’re on Twitter, you can follower her tweets at @janeatrandom.

When I was a kid, summer meant long sunny days in the ocean, tons of fun with my four siblings, and lots of reading in the hammock. Those long days with few responsibilities gave me a love of summer reading that I still indulge in. Deciding what to read while on vacation can be agonizing: I want books that will keep me turning the pages, discovering new authors, or finally reading something I’ve meant to get to. Having just come back from a week at the beach, I’m excited to share my early summer reads!

My son and I read THE HUNGER GAMES together – some of it aloud and some of it by trading the book back and forth. Suzanne Collins has an incredible gift for driving a story forward; we were both utterly taken by Katniss’s prowess in the woods, strategic instincts, and fierce loyalty. I appreciated her emotional complexity more than my son did – especially when her feelings towards Peeta blossomed (which he did not approve of, but at 10 years old, love is not on your radar!) It was so much fun to discuss the moral complexity of the world Collins has created in THE HUNGER GAMES – I’ll be reading the rest of the trilogy soon.

Playing Dead So many people have raved about Gillian Flynn’s writing in the past few years that I had to pick up GONE GIRL. The voices are pitch perfect and the incredible twists and turns in the plot are jaw-dropping, but so believable. Even though you know Flynn was inspired by many a true crime episode about “the missing wife,” you can’t help wondering how she transforms it into such a psychological tour de force. GONE GIRL reminded me of Julia Haeberlin’s debut novel, PLAYING DEAD, which starts with a young woman who receives a letter from someone claiming to be her mother, saying she had been kidnapped 30 years ago. What at first seems completely implausible turns out to be more deliciously complicated and suspenseful than you can imagine – plenty of great plot twists here too!

Going back to an author you haven’t read in a while is one of the pleasures of summer reading and I picked up Ann Patchett’s THE STATE OF WONDER for that very reason. I loved the worlds she creates – Minnesota in winter as compared to the Amazon jungle – but more than anything, I adored the main character, Marina Singh, who goes to find out what happened to her colleague in the jungle and comes face to face with her own memories of tragedy and heartbreak as she navigates this hot (and at times terrifying) world. In the midst of the characters’ compelling stories, Patchett also “presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation.” (Wall Street Journal)

Heat Wave And let’s not forget that summer reads are also known as beach reads—and for the quintessential beach book I turn to Nancy Thayer. Often set on Nantucket, her novels always feature wonderful female characters whose stories of family, friendship, love, and betrayal are a true delight. Every time I look at the cover of her newest paperback, HEAT WAVE, I wish I were on that beach in a red bikini! I’ll be taking another week off from work in late August – what should I take with me for my second spell of summer reading?

The Beachcombers sweepstakes: Win a trip to Nantucket!

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Enter for a chance to win a trip to Nantucket!

Celebrate Nancy Thayer’s Beachcombers with a New England getaway this summer. You and a guest could win roundtrip airfare and two nights on beautiful Nantucket. Relax and explore the island’s unspoiled beaches and lighthouses on foot or by bicycle, and visit the antique shops and galleries along the cobblestone streets of Nantucket Town.

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer

“A charming and fun summer read.”—The Plain Dealer

Enter by June 13, 2011 for travel between ?July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
Click here for complete rules and conditions.*

Summer House by Nancy Thayer

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

SUMMER HOUSE by Nancy Thayer

(This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who participated!)

Thirty-year-old Charlotte Wheelwright seems to have at last found her niche, running an organic gardening business on the island of Nantucket, thanks in large part to her spry grandmother Nona, who donated a portion of land on the family’s seaside compound to get Charlotte started. Though Charlotte’s skill with plants is bringing her success, cultivating something deeper with people—particularly her handsome neighbor Coop—might be more of a challenge.

Now the entire Wheelwright clan is making its annual summer pilgrimage to the homestead, including Charlotte’s mother, Helen, who brings a heavy heart as she confronts a betrayal that threatens her sense of place and her sense of self. Bringing together three generations of strong-willed women, each wrestling with life-changing decisions, Nancy Thayer’s luminous novel shows that no matter where life’s path may lead, love always finds a way back home.

Watch Nancy Thayer read from her new novel BEACHCOMBERS

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

beachBeautifully written, powerfully felt, full of both abundant joy and heart-wrenching sorrow, BEACHCOMBERS is an extraordinary novel that centers on the bittersweet reunion of three captivating, very different sisters on Nantucket over one gorgeous, exhilarating summer.

Standing in front of Surfside Beach on the island of Nantucket, bestselling author Nancy Thayer gives you an early read from her new novel BEACHCOMBERS.

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