For many readers books about books, bookstores and authors are the penultimate read. There’s something magical about discovering books within books or uncovering the reason why an author writes that makes these kinds of books a pure pleasure to read. That is certainly the case with “The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses)” by Terri-Lynn DeFino.
“Bar Harbor” will take readers by surprise. Showing authors in the twilight years of their life in a retirement home designed specifically with them in mind, the novel brings about a bit of sadness and nostalgia as it touches on the darker side of aging and how it affects the creative process. It asks the question, what will we, as readers do, when our favorite authors are no longer able to provide us with our favorite stories?
Despite such a dark question lingering in the back of the reader’s mind, there is hope and joy in the novel as the elderly characters join together to help the younger generation discover a love for themselves, each other and writing.
The authors are crotchety, playful and scheming. They work together, sometimes unwittingly, to bring the “youngins” together. Their schemes are worthy of some of the best rom-com movies from the 1990s. Many of the most memorable moments in the story involve the antics Alfonse and his friends devise to bring Cecibel and Aldo together and to get Cecibel to discover her passion for writing.
The magic of “Bar Harbor” is that it is a novel within a novel. Cecibel inspires Alfonse to write again. With Cecibel as his muse, readers see the magic of the creative process. They also discover that it takes more than one person to write a book. Once Alfonse’s writings are discovered, the other writers clamor to help him get his story written knowing that Alfonse’s (and their) days are numbered. Their collaboration, add polish and layers to the novel being written as it is being read.
DeFino gives readers an inspiring story showing the possibilities of love and acceptance through two beautifully told novels in one small package.