Ruthie Beamish takes sanctuary in her quiet Orient home near the sea. She has a befitting, albeit stressful, job at the local museum, a teenage daughter growing into her own and a not-quite-ex-husband. Their home is their nest egg— her daughter’s college fund, retirement account — and a hard fought investment.
While most visit their North Fork home during the summer, Ruthie has to leave hers. To afford it, she is forced to rent the house out during the prime season. A wealthy widow of a blue-chip artist has taken up residence there, displacing Ruthie — but she’s fighting back against all the things chipping away at her life.
This is, of course, a fictional interpretation of Orient life. The story of character Ruthie Beamish is told by award-winning Stony Brook author Judy Blundell in her page-turning summer read, ‘The High Season.’ Fictitious as it may be, Blundell draws upon inspiration from real life locales in Orient and the Village of Greenport, where there’s a certain unnamed restaurant that only serves oysters and chowder along with a “good wine” list that is referenced. “The oysters were so cold and briny, the place was packed, I loved the owner,” one of the characters says.
“I hope Little Creek Oysters will forgive me,” Blundell said. “It was the only place something in the book was really modeled on, because I just love it.”
Another North Fork treasure gets a shout out from Blundell in the acknowledgements of the novel. “A special thank-you to the stupendously talented baker and owner of the Orient Country Store, Miriam Foster, for the afternoon iced teas and perhaps the only factual element in the novel, the greatest salted oatmeal cookie in the world.”
Blundell often visited the Orient Country Store to get a sense of the community.
“I wanted to be welcoming to her… I didn’t feel like we were being researched,” Foster said. “There were many layers to the community in the book. I think she got that right.”
The author also has the characters converse about the woes of helicopter noise and joys of local farm stands. Though Blundell is not a North Fork resident, she is a Long Island native with ties to the area. She has been coming to the area since she was a child and she often visits friends in Orient. To research the novel, Blundell rented an Orient home twice — for one month during the winter and one month during summer.
“I wanted to make sure I was getting it right,” Blundell said of capturing the Orient lifestyle. “I talked to my friends who have homes in Orient, I hung out at the Orient Country Store, and I eavesdropped a little bit. But the book is imaginary. I stretched things so it finds the structure of the plot.”
The High Season is Blundell’s first adult novel. She’s published more than 100 young adult novels throughout her career and won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her novel, ‘What I Saw and How I Lied’.
North Fork Table & Inn in Southold is teaming up with the New York Times bestselling author for the launch of the novel. The collaboration includes culinary events and a special High Season Getaway for two at North Fork Table & Inn.
The package, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, includes a two-night stay, two dinners (a chef’s tasting and a 3-course meal), lunch at the North Fork Food Truck, a complimentary cocktail, wine tasting and full breakfast. A copy of the book is also included. The cost is $1,000 per couple.
On Sunday, July 1, there will be a Brunch and Book event where Blundell will sign books, conduct a reading and answer questions. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. and costs $75/person.
On Thursday, July 5 at 5 p.m., families are invited to dine al fresco at the North Fork Food Truck during another book-related event. Offerings include lobster rolls, burgers, banh mi and pastry chef Claudia Fleming’s cookies. Blundell will mingle with guests and do book signings. The cost is $30 per person.
The High Season is now available at local bookstores and online through publisher Random House.