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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Garden State

I've been in New Jersey for a couple of days now. It's not an unfamiliar state; we had family in West Orange, and, as a kid, I went there often for holidays. We also vacationed on Long Beach Island. I have such fond memories of that place I set part of my first book, Like A Knife, there. And, of course, there's always Tony Soprano and his gang.

All that gives one a certain impression, and that impression is not necessarily of old and quaint New England towns.

Which is one of the reasons I've enjoyed my stay here so much. My future SIL toured me around Basking Ridge, Peapack Gladstone and Bernardsville, and the area is lovely. Much more built up than it was when he was growing up, but still bucolic despite the new office parks and strip malls. Lots of little towns separated by swaths of bare woods that will plump up green in the summer but now show the trunks of tall, straight hardwoods. The forsythia are in full bloom and deer crossings over the highway are draped in bright yellow.

There's a lot of wealth in the area--not only the upper middle class kind, but the kind that comes with horses and acreage. The King of Morocco had a home here, there is a Steeplechase every October, and the American Golf Association is headquartered here.

Of course I can't go anywhere without thinking about stories, and there's dozens here. Blair's Den, a creepy, decaying mansion high up in the Bernardsville "mountains" (my Canadian husband would scoff and call them hills), is said to be the setting for a honeymoon tragedy whose ghosts linger on; a part of the country road nearby is called Jacob's Ladder because of the seven large humps in it--each one the mound of a nun's grave; there's the nudest colony, the school for delinquent boys, and the Great Swamp, the perfect place to hide a body.

And, like much of the northeast, there is great ethnic food. I've had terrific Mexican at Casa Maya, and wonderful Thai at Thai Thai. I checked out the Short Hills Mall, too. Whew! Talk about rich... Fun to look at the clothes and try to imagine what it would be like to afford them.

Today is the shower, and I'm looking forward to seeing my sisters, my mom, plus friends and family I haven't seen in years. And to meeting the women who will make up my daughters new family.

New Jersey is the butt of a lot of jokes, but I found it be an attractive, interesting place. Just goes to show ya--personal experience is everything.

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Blogger Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Sounds like you're having a great time in NJ.

I have to tell you I just read the RT Author in Spotlight piece and I'm swept away by the excerpt from One Deadly Sin. Talk about creating a setting, tone, mood and atmosphere--wow. Sorry to sound like such a fangirl--which I am anyway--but that was a masterful piece of writing.

April 21, 2009 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

Wow, MN. Thank you! Can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Especially coming from someone with such great taste. Anyone who likes soaps and La Femme has to know what they're talking about. Now if ony I can turn you on to Farscape...

April 21, 2009 at 10:38 AM  

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