Lisa Greiner’s guest blog takes us back to those first readings of Emilie Loring’s books and shares the enthusiasm that drove her to learn more about their author.
How old were you when you read your first Emilie Loring book? Do you remember which one it was? Was it set in the big glittering city of New York; or perhaps in the wilderness of Alaska? Did you thrill along with the heroine as she steered a dinghy through turbulent waters? Or maybe you longed to wear a glittering frock and go out for an evening. Could you feel the breeze blowing through your hair as you rode with a handsome man in his roadster? Did you, like me, run out to find a copy of every one of Emilie’s 50+ novels?
I didn’t read my first Emilie Loring novel until I was 18 years old. My family had recently moved to a new town and I found the book in our local public library. I was immediately captivated. I still remember opening the pages and seeing with my mind’s eye a young lady crouching among the trees with her little dog beside her. I could smell the spicy scent of pine and balsam trees in the Maine summer air.
From that moment on I was hooked. I began reading every one of her books that I could get my hands on. My local library had a few; and sometimes I would find the paperbacks at book sales, but somehow or other I managed to find, and voraciously read, every one of her novels. I especially liked the ones that were set near the coast of Maine. As I read, I pictured a vast blue sky on a summer day, a cool breeze blowing off the water, the hum of a roadster passing nearby . . . I was transported from the hot Texas summers in my small town to a different place . . . another time.
I also loved Emilie’s novels for the wholesome, happy-ever-after inspiration they provided. In many ways, they helped to form my approach toward life. Emilie’s heroines exhibited the character qualities that I admired and wanted to emulate – always confident, loyal, intelligent, charming . . . I wanted to be the heroine in her novels, experience the excitement of mystery and suspense, dress up in colorful evening frocks with glittering jewels, fall into the arms of a handsome stranger who just happened to be rich and from a good family . . . okay – so maybe they were a teensy bit unrealistic. I loved them anyway! They gave me tangible dreams and positive role models.
I was curious to know more about the woman who wrote such wonderful stories so, after a bit of internet research, I planned a trip to Boston where Emilie lived most of her life. Along with my Mom and her little shih Tzu “Snuggles”, we drove from Charlotte, North Carolina to Boston. Our first stop was the Mugar Library at Boston University to see the “Emily Loring Collection”. What a joy it was to open those boxes and delve into Emilie’s world! The boxes contained letters, transcripts, media interviews, and newspaper clippings – wonderful behind-the-scene glimpses of Emilie as an author.
In the afternoon we rode to the beautiful town of Wellesley Hills (a suburb of Boston) where Emilie, and her husband Victor, built their family home in 1895, laying out gardens and orchards filled with fruit trees and the colorful flowers Emilie described so frequently in her novels. The current owner graciously agreed to let me take a photograph of the house.
The following day, Mom and I enjoyed a narrated bus tour of the city of Boston. We absolutely fell in love with its beautiful architecture, historic churches, friendly people, and the wealth of history to be discovered there. We strolled along famous “King” Street and stopped at a local bakery for cupcakes.
In the afternoon we hiked up and down the very steep streets of the lovely and historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. We were ecstatic (and exhausted) when we finally located the Chestnut Street address for Emilie and Victor’s residence during much of Emilie’s writing years. Of course, I snapped a few pictures!
Leaving behind the wonderful city of Boston, we travelled to Blue Hill, Maine where Emilie and her family vacationed each summer. Although the weather was cool with a light rain, it did not detract from the loveliness of this quintessential Maine village, nor did it diminish at all our enjoyment of it. We had lobster rolls for lunch at the Fish Net restaurant and then visited the Blue Hill Library which houses an impressive collection of Emilie’s novels. The Librarian at Blue Hill provided several folders of information about Emilie’s “Stone House”, and gave us directions to the house so we might see it on our drive out of town.
On our return drive home, we spent an afternoon in Kennebunkport (also a lovely town). We stopped in for a treat at a local coffee house/bakery and discovered it was one of President George W. Bush’s favorite places to run in for a cookie (of course we had to have one too!). Leaving Kennebunkport, we meandered our way down the coast of Maine. We so wanted to see Bar Harbor, Maine where, I believe, Emily and Victor vacationed in their later years, but our trip was winding down by then and we needed to return home. But what an enjoyable trip it was – my Mom still says that it is her favorite destination of all the vacations she and I have taken together!
Patti, I look forward with eager anticipation to reading your biography of Emilie Loring – “Happy Landings” (a very fitting title!!); and I wish you every success as you work toward its publication. If you are ever in the vicinity of North Carolina, I would enjoy the opportunity to have “tea” with you and talk of everything Emilie Loring.
Thank you, Lisa. We will have a lot to talk about!
Have you taken an Emilie Loring tour? Write in and tell us about it!