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Jane Green of Westport wrote her 14th novel, "Family Pictures," cozying up to the fireplace at the Bee & Thistle Inn in Old Lyme last winter. The "New York Times" bestselling author returns to the inn in warmer weather on Aug. 23 to introduce her 15th novel, "Tempting Fate," as the featured novelist at The Big Book Getaway lunch and book talk.
"Tempting Fate" is a novel about a middle-aged wife and mother who is feeling betrayed by the onset of wrinkles and growing children who no longer need her as much. In turn, she betrays the husband she's been happily married to for 18 years when a handsome, younger man becomes enamored of her. The novel examines the consequences of one's actions and what happens to a marriage when it's put to the ultimate test.
Green talked about "Tempting Fate" in a recent Daybreak interview.
Q. You wrote a lot of your last novel at the Bee & Thistle. What put you in front of the fireplace there to write?
A. Most of my career I have written one book a year and one book a year is entirely manageable - as I'm also a wife and mother. Then (the publisher) switched to wanting two books a year and it felt like an impossible task. I thought I'd get much more done if I removed myself entirely and went to a little inn or place where I didn't talk to anyone and immersed myself in writing. I found the Bee & Thistle online. It wasn't open the week I wanted to come, but they said they'd open it and let me stay there. It might have provided too much distraction if other guests were there. It remains my favorite retreat. I wrote like 50,000 words in five days. It was peaceful, beautiful and the perfect environment to allow me to lose myself in my characters. This was the first year I attempted two books a year. I couldn't have done it if I had not been to the Bee & Thistle.
Q. Are you happy Dorie Greenspan is introducing you? I hear you like to cook and include recipes in some of your books.
A. Yes, I have always been a big cook. I went to the French Culinary Institute last year. Dorie's book, 'Around My French Table' is one of the books I use all the time. I only found out last week that she was going to introduce me and I was completely thrilled and star struck.
Q. 'Tempting Fate' looks at infidelity, marriages on the rocks, in a very nuanced way. There are no bad guys and good guys but people who sometimes make bad or not well thought out choices. Can you talk about that?
A. I suppose that what I'm most interested in when I'm writing is the nature of our flaws. We are all flawed, we all make mistakes, and I believe that's where our humanity lies and I wanted to write about a happy marriage and people who were likable. I wanted to write about good people who make mistakes in as nonjudgmental a way as possible. I believe no one ever goes into these things thinking 'I'm going to have an affair.' Things can snowball very quickly and I really wanted to show the human side of that. I wanted to write about a happily married woman who is seduced, despite the fact that she loves her husband.
Q. You've published 15 novels. How do you keep coming up with ideas for the next one? Why this one about adultery and relationships of people in their 40s?
A. I've always drawn from my life without ever writing about my life. I found myself in my mid-40s living in this suburban town and looking around me at women my age suddenly announcing they'd been unhappy for years and were leaving their husbands. They got skinny and glamorous and glowing and you would find out 9 out of 19 of them were having an affair. This was their soul mate, not just a fling. It was the tennis coach or the art instructor or always someone inappropriate in every way - the diametric opposite of their husbands. I wondered why in their 40s was this happening? I wondered why in the suburbs, particularly in the wealthy suburbs, these women have given up their jobs to be wives and mothers and do everything for their children and suddenly they wake up and they're 45 and their children no longer want or need them and these women are left feeling invisible or irrelevant or unseen. For some women, this is a very vulnerable time. If someone comes (around) and pays attention to you, this can be very seductive. It's the thrill of being seen.
Q. How was the novel inspired by your own life?
A. This book was inspired by these women around me, but (it was also inspired by) a night out in New York. I got out in Grand Central and there were men all around me, but I felt completely invisible. I went to a book festival and a very handsome, youthful guy started to talk to me and then email me. I'm married to the greatest guy. I adore my husband. But getting these emails from this young author was the most exciting thing that happened to me. I didn't want to have an affair, but I realized how these things can happen.
Q. A lot of the communication between your protagonist Gabby and Matt, her love interest, happens via email. They seem to open up more online than in person. Why is that?
A. I think what happens with email and Facebook is that none of us are being honest; we're presenting the best version of ourselves that we can, but we're embarking on relationships built via social media that are based on false constructs most of the time.
Q. You're English and so is Gabby. She loves living in the U.S. but never feels like she totally fits in. Have you felt that way?
A. Yes, completely. I came here in the beginning of 2001. I think once you leave your country of birth when you've lived there a long time you become displaced. You can't go home, either. You end up being this displaced person that makes half a home wherever you go.
Q. What life lessons do you hope to leave readers with when they finish reading 'Tempting Fate?'
A. The big lesson I would hope people learn is that many of us live our lives thinking the grass is so much greener and I have come to learn the grass is greener where you water it. Really, marriage is about kindness and consideration and not growing complacent.
What: The Big Book Getaway — Lunch with Jane Green
When: Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: The Bee and Thistle Inn, 100 Lyme St., Old Lyme.
What to expect: Green will give the
keynote talk, introduced by award-winning
cookbook author Dorie Greenspan of
Westbrook. Both women will sign copies of their new books, which will be for sale: “Tempting Fate” by Jane Green (St. Martin's Press), $25.99, hardcover and “Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere” by Dorie Greenspan (Rux Martin Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $40, hardcover. Mystic's Bank Square Books is the event bookseller.
How much: $45 ticket price includes lunch and dessert. Tickets can be purchased at www.thebigbookclub.org or www.banksquarebooks.com.