Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, we decided to touch base with Judy Blundell, whose new book is High Season. The novel’s protagonist is Ruthie Beamish, director of a small museum who, to make ends meet, rents out her seaside home on Long Island at the end of every May to wealthy vacationers. It is a tradition her daughter has dubbed "the summer bummer.’’ Although this is Blundell’s first adult novel, you might recognize her name from What I Saw and How I Lied, her 2008 young adult novel that won the National Book Award.
What’s on your nightstand?
I’ve just finished a prepublication book tour. I decided since I find it depressing to see all those people on airplanes looking at their screens instead of books to buy a book in each airport and read it on the plane. Currently I’m reading The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. I’m recommending it to everyone I see. Tinti is a gorgeous writer. I’m in awe of her visual imagination and the precision of her language. The plot moves like lightning. It’s packed with suspenseful sequences and grounded with a deep paternal love story.
Can you explain how the idea of the families moving out of their homes during "the season’’ came to be?
My husband and I lived on the very tip of Long Island back in the ’90s, and we knew people who rented out their houses in the summers and crowded in with relatives or moved into trailers. That extra bump in income was crucial to keeping them afloat. That stayed with me, and later I would marry that idea to a story about the effect of summer visitors on three women of different ages. The idea of someone who has to let go of her beloved house in order to afford to live in it seemed like a natural space for drama.
What was the best summer read you ever enjoyed?
For the past 10 summers, we’ve gone to Cape Cod in August, and I have so many happy memories of books I’ve read there. Last year I read Less by Andrew Sean Greer and was knocked out by his ability to twine the everyday comedy of living with the silent agony of loss.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.