In the tradition of Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, BY THE SEA is a four-book series that sweeps from the Gilded Age through the Gatsby Era's Roaring Twenties and then on to the Great Depression, culminating nearly a century later in Newport, Rhode Island, wealthy and alluring "City by the Sea." Set against a backdrop of mansions, the glorious America's Cup Yacht Races, and new money, the series traces the passions and adventures of three families from three different classes.
Book One: TESS. From the wild decadence of late nineteenth-century Newport comes the tale of Tess Moran, a beautiful Irish housemaid in one of the grand summer "cottages," who makes a dark bargain with a man of commanding wealth -- and falls in love in the bargain.
Book Two: AMANDA. Marrying American money to an English title is a tradition of its own; but Amanda Fain, a brash heiress with money to burn, has a fondness for Bolsheviks and bootleg liquor that makes her an unlikely match for the reluctant, ironic, and impoverished English aristocrat Geoffrey Seton, who has been ordered to America to find someone who can pay the bills for the family estate back home.
Book Three: LAURA. While the Great Depression grinds relentlessly on, Laura Andersson, a Midwestern farm girl with an improbable love of the sea, embarks on a bold adventure that promises riches but delivers passion, one that threatens all she holds dear.
Book Four: THE HEIRS is the dramatic conclusion to the four-book series BY THE SEA. Economic hard times are a distant memory in high-flying, recent-day Newport, home of the oldest and most prestigious trophy in the world, the Holy Grail of sport--the America's Cup. Here, the descendants of Tess, Amanda and Laura play out their destinies, their paths crossing in unforeseen ways: Mavis Moran, Neil Powers, his daughter Quinta, and America's Cup skipper Alan Seton all find themselves caught in a web of mystery, sabotage, and conflicting desires.
"A quality novel [that] contains many of those little epiphanies, those moments of recognition. [Part 1, TESS,] is what makes Stockenberg's book stand out from the rash of novels on class conflicts between Irish servants and their Yankee masters."
"A riveting saga/mystery. Ms. Stockenberg is a master of intrigue and romance ... she expertly leads readers through nearly a century of drama in the elegant, fascinating, and thrilling world of yacht racing [culminating in] a compelling mystery. This novel will provide smooth sailing for summer reading."
I have three sisters, all of whom I love dearly. The amazing thing about us is that despite the differences in our personalities, we all get along well together. I'm the oldest and, yes, the bossiest. When I was six, I told my twin sisters that I could fly, and if they did what I said, I would teach them to fly too. (I really did think I could fly if I could just figure out how to get up on the roof, so I wasn't actually lying.) They let me be the ringleader for a while, until they developed independent streaks of their own. By that time my youngest sister was born, so I got to be boss again, but in a more maternal way. Then, wouldn't you know, she too became independent.
What to do.
I didn't realize it at the time, but it turns out that writing about sisters lets you be the boss again -- until the characters, like my real-life sisters, develop independent streaks of their own. So it is that in DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, ten-year-old Isabelle shows a fearlessness that surprises her older sister Elinor -- who is pretty fearless herself, fending off an English Baron who is determined to buy back his ancestral home from Elinor's family and move it from the banks of the Hudson River in New York (where it has no business being) back to England (where it stood for centuries and where it belongs). A temperamental artist crossing swords with a cool-headed software engineer over a stone castle: there's a battle that will take no prisoners.
In EMBERS, Meg Hazard is the responsible oldest sibling, trying hard to keep her family afloat in a rambling Victorian that she's more or less forced them into converting to a Bed and Breakfast in the tourist town of Bar Harbor, Maine. The extended family all live in the back rooms and serve as host and staff. For the most part, they get along well. But when money's tight and space is tighter, there's bound to be some friction. And when one member of the family -- let's say, the youngest, spoiled, and very beautiful Allie -- doesn't always pull her share of the load, the friction can ramp up. When the two sisters both fall for a guest at their B&B who happens to be a recovering cop, loyalties will be tested and choices will have to be made.
And, finally, A MONTH AT THE SHORE. This novel was inspired by a family nursery I once visited that had a sad and woebegone look. Plants were unwatered, the greenhouse a shambles, the rose arbor rotted and falling down. I wondered what circumstances could have contributed to such decay. I wanted whatever family owned the nursery to pull together and make it work. And so the book was born. Sweet Corinne Shore has stayed home to keep Shore Gardens afloat. Ambitious Laura and black-sheep brother Snack have both fled the failing business -- and their failed family -- for different reasons, but Corinne persuades them to give her a month of their lives to turn the nursery around. Can Corinne convince them that there's no place like home? It may be where the heart is, but for Laura, it's where the heartbreak happened, and the cause of that heartbreak still lives there.
Family, romance, suspense, mystery, and a touch of the other-worldly: you will find it all in these three novels. Enjoy.