For me, a trip beach is inextricably linked to reading fiction.
When I was young, my father’s parents had a house in Water Mill, Long Island; my mother’s parents in Sea Girt, New Jersey. On the day school ended, my father’s mother would show up at our home in New Jersey in her white Thunderbird to pick up my brother and me, and we would take off for two weeks on the Long Island shore. In August, the ritual would be repeated, but with my mother’s parents, who arrived in a sensible Dodge, not a Thunderbird.
In both places, we went to the beach everyday there was “enough blue in the sky to make a Dutchman’s pants,” as my New Jersey grandmother would say. On Long Island, we played in the waves, went to the Penny Candy Store, visited a swimming pool that belonged to a family friend. In New Jersey we built sandcastles, took walks on the boardwalk, and played mini-golf.
And always, we read. We read on the beach, of course. To this day, reading when I am completely disconnected and relaxed, with waves breaking in the background, and the smell of salt in the air, is one of my favorite things. I remember just as fondly the rainy days at the beach, when it was possible to stretch out on the living room floor and read all day. In Water Mill, I plowed through my grandparents’ Agatha Christies and Dorothy L. Sayers. In Sea Girt, I read all the Earl Stanley Gardners that were stored on the guestroom bookshelf, always looking for the part about the naked woman on the cover, always disappointed. But I loved the stories anyway.
Those rainy days made me the mystery writer I am today.
When my children were young, my parents revived the tradition of the beach vacation. They rented a house in Stone Harbor, New Jersey and all of our activities continued–the beach trips, the mini-golf, the Jersey corn and tomatoes. And the reading.
This is one of my favorite photos from the beach. Three generations all with their noses buried in books, except my nephew Hume who is looking at the camera. I think there’s a book hidden in his towel.
The tradition fell apart when the grandchildren got to high school and had summer jobs and sports camps. After my mother died, my sister-in-law had one request. “I want to go back to the beach.” So now we’ve started it up with a whole new generation, my granddaughter and grandniece—and two new babies and a new nephew-in-law in the wings. August can’t come soon enough.
Barbara Ross is the author of six Maine Clambake Mysteries. The seventh, Steamed Open, will be published in December 2018. Her novella featuring Julia Snowden is included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in Eggnog Murder. A second anthology, Yule Log Murder, is coming in October 2018.
It’s June in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and Julia Snowden and her family are working hard to get their authentic Maine clambake business ready for summer. Preparations must be put on hold, however, when a mysterious yacht drops anchor in the harbor—and delivers an unexpected dose of murder . . .
When Julia’s old prep school rival Wyatt Jayne invites her to dinner on board her billionaire fiancé’s decked-out yacht, Julia arrives to find a sumptuous table set for two—and the yachtsman dead in his chair. Suspicion quickly falls on Wyatt, and Julia’s quest to dredge up the truth leads her into the murky private world of a mega-rich recluse who may not have been all that he seemed . . .
Praise for Iced Under
“Ross knows her Maine coast and her snowstorms. Both provide an atmospheric backdrop for a cozy that . . . picks up its pace when its focus returns to the living and the newly dead.” —Kirkus Reviews