Author Mary Simses recalls Darien's hometown inspiration before Saturday's library event
When the Darien Library offered to host an event Saturday, June 10, for my novel, The Rules of Love & Grammar, I couldn’t have been more excited, because Darien isn’t just my hometown. It’s also a big part of what inspired me to create the town of Dorset, Connecticut, where the novel is set.
Grace Hammond, a grammar guru, likes to fix everyone else’s mistakes. After losing her job, boyfriend, and apartment, she flees Manhattan for her parents’ home in Connecticut, where she ultimately winds up fixing her own problems.
The idea for Love & Grammar came from my childhood and teen years in Darien – specifically, a magical experience at a ninth grade dance, as well as a terrific best friend and a wonderful English teacher, two people to whom the book is dedicated. I now live in Florida, but return to our Fairfield home every summer, and love seeing the Darien stores and businesses that were there when I was a kid.
One of them, the Sugar Bowl, was my teen hangout, and it inspired the Sugar Bowl restaurant in Love & Grammar, where Grace overhears that her old high school sweetheart is also back in town.
In creating Dorset, I borrowed elements from other Connecticut locations as well, including the Rowayton harbor and the village greens in Fairfield and Guilford. I love the gazebo on the Fairfield green and the concerts held there on summer evenings, and they ended up in the book as well.
An apple orchard I called Miller’s Orchards was inspired by Silverman’s Farm in Easton and Blue Jay Orchard in Bethel. Grace’s reminiscence about the first time she picked an apple off a tree and ate it came from my own experience of eating a fresh-picked apple at Silverman’s. Sidewalk sales, a farmers’ market, and a town Founder’s Day celebration also made it into the book. It was fun creating my own town and filling it with the things I love about my childhood, hometown, and home state. That also includes bicycles. An important storyline in the book involves Grace’s desire to restore her sister’s old Paramount Schwinn bike, a key link to the past.
This Saturday, June 10 at from 2 to 3 p.m., everyone who attends Books & Bikes at the Darien Library can enter a free raffle to win one of two Schwinn bikes, bike accessories, or a copy of my book. I’ll talk about Love & Grammar at the event, which is co-sponsored by Schwinn Bicycles and will honor Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Connecticut. Shake Shack will be scoping free ice cream. What a great way to kick off the summer!
New England is also the setting of my first novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, which became a Hallmark movie. Having spent most of my life in Connecticut, I still consider it home.
Please introduce yourself to me on Saturday, when we can share our love of Connecticut, Books & Bikes, and I’ll introduce you to The Rules of Love & Grammar.