In my third Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery, Ghostal Living, rare books take center stage, which got me thinking about all the “rare” books I’ve found over the years in my local library. In Ghostal Living, a wealthy, rare book collector opens the Bibliophile Bed & Breakfast in Sag Harbor, New York. Each suite in the B & B is named after a famous author. My protagonist, interior designer and fixer-upper Meg Barrett has the lucky chore of filling the suites with books and antiques from the time period the authors were alive—as if they’d just stepped out for a bit of fresh air after a long day of writing.
A few years ago, I spent the weekend in Sag Harbor, picture taking and soaking up the history and beauty of the historic old whaling village that would be the setting for my next mystery. As soon as I saw the John Jermain Memorial Library, I knew it would be the perfect location for my novel’s first annual Sag Harbor Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair. The library was built in 1910 and is a wonderful example of Classical Revival architecture with its pediment and four towering Doric columns, reminiscent of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue—all that’s missing are the stone lions, Patience and Fortitude.
When I first entered the lobby of the John Jermain Memorial Library, I couldn’t help but wonder if Sag Harbor resident John Steinbeck had spent time inside. I could imagine him checking out a volume on King Arthurian legends, one of his favorite subjects. Or perhaps hiding between the stacks of books to read Shakespeare’s, Richard III, the play that gave him the inspiration and name for his novel, The Winter of Our Discontent that he wrote from his little glass hut overlooking Sag Harbor’s Noyac Bay. And I’m sure another Sag Harbor favorite son, James Fenimore Cooper would be proud to know his books are safely stored in the new humidity and temperature controlled archive in the third-floor History Room.
In Ghostal Living there is a Gatsby-style cocktail party to celebrate the opening of the Sag Harbor Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair. I used poetic license to say that a portion of the proceeds from the 1920s cocktail party would go to SAIL, an acronym I made up for Save America’s Invaluable Libraries. The name, SAIL, might be fictitious, but please count on me to do anything I can to promote our public libraries where “rare” accessible books are available to everyone.