"Nancy Thayer!" I squealed. "I love her books!"
"That's good," my agent said, "because she loves yours."
Nancy Thayer, like the heroines of her intimate family sagas, seems to have come to rest in an enchanted place. For the past thirty years, she's lived in a lovely historic home in Nantucket with her witty, good-looking husband, Charley. She's been on the New York Times bestseller list 157 times (roughly.) Her life is enriched with kids (2), grandkids (4), cats (several), and the praise of book reviewers everywhere. Her newest book, The Guest Cottage, is out now, just in time for your Memorial Day weekend.
I’m delighted that Julia Spencer-Fleming invited me to write a guest post on Jungle Red Writers. I’m a mystery fiend. Just ask Julia, who sat in our Nantucket living room with our bookshelves packed with books and after a moment asked me, “Why don’t you write mysteries? That seems to be all you read.”
Or ask my good friend Jill, who knows about my obsession and made me a notebook cover AND a fleece-lined throw out of Nancy Drew material.
What IS it about a good mystery that is so inviting and delicious? Part of it is, maybe, the brain-fun of trying to solve a puzzle. Much of it is getting to know the characters who become part of my life. (When I first met Julia, I hope I said hello before demanding: “Does Clare have her baby?”) It might also be the location, the sense of being in another place while tucked away at home. There’s the excitement, too, the What’s-Going-to-Happen? that makes my heart pound and keeps me reading until I’ve finished the book. And, for me, I suppose much of it comes from the sense that by the end of the book, someone will have set things right, at least for a while.
Oddly, my favorite season for reading mysteries is winter. It’s great to know I won’t be interrupted. Nantucket is crazy busy in the summer, and lonely, dark, and isolated by gale force storms in the winter. This is what you see on my little book shrine when you enter our front door in December.
I’m also fascinated with women who write mysteries. I write novels about families, and to me families are enormous mysteries. My sister and I still argue about whether our father loved her more than me. (He did.) But I haven’t yet succeeded in writing a mystery. . .maybe someday.
Now that I’m a grandmother, I’m happy to say I’m continuing the tradition of mystery reading in my grandchildren.
One of my top five favorite pleasures is curling up with a brand new mystery and a huge bowl of popcorn, or a nice box of chocolates. I take the phone off the hook and silence my cell for 45 minutes. My husband and children have learned not to speak to me when I’m in my special zone.
I wonder: Do any of you have a similar habit of curling up in/with a book?
Nancy Thayer’s newest novel is The Guest Cottage. Sophie and Trevor are strangers dealing with deep personal losses in their lives. They rent a house on Nantucket for the summer to help them and their children heal. When it turns out to be the same cottage, they decide to make it work, and all is well, so extremely pleasant that they begin to fall in love with each other. But a handsome, wealthy, gentle European pursues Sophie and a hostile, gorgeous, territorial widow tries to claim Trevor. In the midst of this all, Sophie rediscovers a talent that awakens her to the joys of life.